Friday, November 22, 2013

Thrift Shop Gift Buying: - The Do’s and Don’ts

With the Holidays quickly approaching and many people working with tight budgets we hope shoppers will consider shopping Goodwill for gifts this season. We asked Lindsey Wilson of Kalamazoo Gift Company to give us her tips for Thrift-Store Gift Buying:

DON’T - Be afraid of buying someone a gift from a thrift store. Thrift stores can be a great place to discover unexpected treasures that make amazing gifts. Follow these tips below to help you!

DO - Keep an eye out for brand new items. Yes, it’s possible! Items still in their original packaging, and new clothes/accessories with tags intact can all regularly be found at thrift stores. Sometimes people donate things they never got around to using/wearing and just want to get it out of their house. However, even if it appears to be brand new, be sure to give the item a twice-over and check for any damage before buying.
DO - Keep an eye out for antiques. Albeit rare, it is possible to come across a true antique with a high value. The last time I tuned in to a few minutes of Antique Roadshow, they showed a man who bought this old wooden box from a Michigan Goodwill store.

He said he bought it for less than $5. It is actually an original ammunition box from the Civil War and AR appraised it for him at $7,000. Pretty nice pick-up! What is interesting here is that he was not an antique collector, or a war expert. He simply picked up an inexpensive item he thought would be interesting to have. How does this fit with gift giving? Well, imagine you came across a box like this and gave it to your brother or husband who enjoys learning about American History. This box would be a gift that comes with the adventure and excitement of researching and discovering it’s origins. Depending on what they learn - it might just be the best gift ever!
DON’T - Force it. If you see something you like, but aren’t in love, put it in your basket and walk around the rest of the store as you think about it. If you still aren’t sure - it’s probably not a good gift. You should have a good feeling about your gift. Trust your instincts!
DON’T - Under any circumstances, no matter how great of a deal, ever buy something as a gift that is broken, chipped, missing a piece, stained, odorous, etc. The only exception would be an Antique/Vintage type item that includes imperfections as part of it’s patina (i.e. - a Shabby-Chic Style Jewelry Box with worn paint).
DO - Take the time to properly “prepare” your thrift store gift. For example, if you are giving a silver jewelry tray, look up the best way to clean and polish it, and do it. It would be an extra nice addition to beautifully handwrite these cleaning/care instructions on a card for your recipients future reference and include it with the gift.
DO - Put time and effort into the packaging of your thrift-store find.
Kalamazoo Gift Company
The packaging sets the tone for the loveliness of the contents. Do not put your gift in a gift bag and call it a day. Nothing says “I put exactly 5 whole seconds into preparing this gift for you” more than gift bag. If gift wrapping isn’t your thing - take your gift to a professional gift wrapping service. If you want to DIY, be sure to start with a nice box to place the gift in, and use quality wrapping paper and fabric (not paper!) ribbon. Be sure to include a small note card with a meaningful message. It doesn’t have to be long and elaborate. Something like: 
“To Betty - My best friend who makes me smile every day. Love, Helen”.

See - short but sweet!
DON’T - Give up on thrift store gift shopping after one trip with no luck. One of the great things about donation-based thrift stores is that there is new inventory set out every day. Many of the best items only last on the shelf for a very short amount of time - hours, even minutes! It may take a trip or two before you are the lucky shopper to discover a recently stocked treasure before anyone else!
About the guest author:
Lindsey Wilson is a professional gift wrapper and owner of Kalamazoo Gift Company a national online gifting service.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas Gift Projects from Thrift store finds

It is dark now around six o'clock here in Michigan, but that doesn't mean going to bed early! We've put together a collection of gift ideas you can make from thrift store finds that you can work on during these long, dark evenings.  You will find something for everyone on your list!
Succulents are the "it" plant this year. Find a beautiful container at the thrift store to hold a collection of succulents for mom. Visit to learn more about succulents and a few more container ideas.

Does your girl friend love glitter? Make this pillow from a glittery thrift store dress! Go to for instructions.

Find a working thrift boombox and hand paint it in cool, funky colors. Be sure to add to this gift a couple of cassette from bands you liked and couple blank cassette tapes so he can make his own mix tape. Retro is cool!
Psst! Men love candles too! Here is an easy idea for a "manly" candle. Paint a thrift store candle holder with black matte paint. Wrap a pillar candle with a black and white checkered or paisley ribbon. Look for these candle scents for men: Bacon, Whiskey, Pine, Coffee or Campfire.

Check out for the directions to make this cat home from a thrift store dresser. This is a labor of love, but a great payoff! Also visit a previous Treasure Chest post for more ideas for your pets. Cat and dog beds fit for royalty!  

Give her a nail polish organizer. Scoop up an old spice rack from the thrift store and paint it a fresh color, or find out which color would match her room. Purchase her a few nail polish colors to get her started. Sweet!
How about this simple and stylish eyeglasses case for Grandpa? It all starts with a thrift store tie.

Bet grandma doesn't have a potholder rug! This idea is super cute and funky! Visit for directions.
This clock is made from cd's and a thrift store desk clock. Check out  for complete details to make this unique gift for Dad.
What little girl wouldn't love to play house with a handmade play kitchen? This DIY started as an old nightstand. Another labor of love, but so worth it! 
This Pinner on Pinterest shared this idea. She used wonder-under to attach fabric character cut-outs and thrift store ties.  

Enjoy and Happy Treasure Hunting!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Yes, you can make that in a quesadilla maker!

You've probably seen these quesadilla makers at your local thrift store, or maybe even have one stowed away in your kitchen cupboards.

 Let's heat them up and have some fun! You may be surprised at what you can make!
Weird, but true! 

Pancakes can be made in your quesadilla maker. Try your store bought mix or visit for her recipe tips: explains how to make S'mores Quesadillas - Yum!
Serve up hashbrowns and sausage in your quesadilla maker! Read how this mom blogger did it:

Skip the tortilla and use Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. Pillsbury Chicken-Bacon Quesadilla
Truly easy party food...
Invite over your friends or family for a make-your-own-quesidalla night. Put out some familiar ingredients like grilled pork, cheddar cheese, lime and cilantro. 

But also try some new quesadilla flavor combinations:
  • Hawaiian pizza would include Canadian bacon, pineapple tidbits and mozzarella cheese
  • Sophisticated flavors of grilled chicken, apple and brie
  • Fresh Greek combo of plain Greek yogurt, feta cheese, cucumber and olives.
  • Robert Irvine, from Food Network's Dinner Impossible, Tuna Quesadillas are simple to make with salsa, cheese and scallions. 

Staying True....
Enjoy this Taco Bell copycat recipe for a classic tasting quesadilla courtesy of 

Have fun with these recipe ideas and if you are feeling particularly adventurous follow this link to learn new ways to cook with your coffee maker! Coffee Maker Cooking

Happy Treasure Hunting!