A SAVVY mum has revealed that she’s buying secondhand gifts from charity shops and online marketplaces for her kids this Christmas as they “can’t tell the difference”.
When Jen Toll, 38, realised that her children, aged seven and three, didn’t care about the original packaging or condition of their toys, she made the decision to never purchase brand new again.
The mum-of-two, from Oxfordshire, previously hit the headlines after revealing how she cut her Christmas budget in half through gifting secondhand and charity shop finds.
Before, they used to spend over £250 splashing out on stocking fillers for the kids, but now, they’re spending less than £80 in total through giving “package deals” from Santa.
“The girls used to get so many presents at Christmas, which they didn’t need, but then a friend told me about a savvy rhyme,” Jen, who is the founder of Practically Positive and the co-founder of Festival of The Girl, told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“It’s a rhyme that creates a ‘package deal’ from Santa Claus, which makes sure there’s no over-spending.
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“It goes: ‘Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read’ – and I added four more – ‘something to play, something to draw, something to make and maybe one more.’
“It’s only small gifts, like secondhand books or puzzles, which are so cheap and often less than £1 from the charity shop.
“You can even get craft items on Vinted that are unopened, but still a lot cheaper than in the supermarkets.
“I also like it because it means there’s always a game or puzzle which is fun to spend time doing with them.
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“My youngest, who is obsessed with Spiderman, is getting themed gloves this year – which were £1.50 secondhand.
“My eldest had one new thing for her birthday, but that was it – the kids can’t tell when it’s new or not.
“It’s new to them and they’re happy.
“The jigsaw I’ve bought them this year is pretty battered, so they might notice this, but I’ll empty it out into a Christmas bag.”
Jen, who has also bought outfits for her kids to dress up in for £5, claims that each package costs less than £40.
She began the alternative shopping method in 2020 and since then, even her family have embraced the budget-friendly technique.
The mum-of-two said: “I’ve got lots of nephews and nieces around the same age, and it’s not even just about saving money, it’s environmentally better too.
The girls used to get so many presents at Christmas, which they didn’t need
“My mother-in-law bought all six of her grandchildren a Christmas party outfit from Vinted which was lovely and meant she could spoil them, while saving clothes from being dumped in a landfill.
“It’s more sustainable to regift toys that last, than brand new ones which break in the first few weeks.
“When I was growing up, buying from charity shops wasn’t cool, but now, it’s the opposite.
“It’s really important for me to teach my kids the value of money, as this does make you happier if spent on experiences, rather than material things, where the impact can wear off quickly.
“I really want to teach them that money is not equal to value.
“The reason I shop secondhand now is also because it’s more sustainable, and I want them to understand how to look after what they have rather than assume everything is replaceable.
“I’m not entirely sure they get it yet – though I think we’re on the right track.”
Now, Jen plans on reselling or donating the toys and items they have received in previous years, to make another child’s Christmas special – for less.
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Her top tip? Always search for the best deals.
She added: “Don’t settle on the first thing you find, and instead, ask around your local parent groups, or look online at other secondhand sites, like Facebook Marketplace.
“Lots of people do clear outs at this time of year and have well looked after toys that their kids might have outgrown.
“Arrange a secondhand gift swap and get together with some friends to bring along some toys and clothes that they no longer want.
“It’s only an issue if your kids are at each other’s houses a lot – but most of the time, they have no idea.
“Always make an offer. If you see the same of a few items and you think something is priced a little too high, it’s always worth bargaining.
“I’ve just got the same jumper for £3 from one seller, when it was listed as £12 by someone else.
“Remember that buying secondhand doesn’t always mean ‘old’ or ‘used’ – many things have never been worn or opened before.
“It’s always worth looking at charity shops, as there can be some real treasures found.
When I was growing up, buying from charity shops wasn’t cool, but now, it’s the opposite
“While Vinted is great for finding deals, remember to factor in postage costs.
“Look for bundle discounts or shop locally instead.
“My kids don’t know, nor care, as far as they’re concerned – it’s coming to them brand new.
“When they’re a bit older, they might be able to spot the difference and it may bother them.
“Or they’ll want something that’s much harder to get secondhand – but I’d like to think that actually, we can talk about the reason why and they will want to embrace this.”
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