Zara Canfield shares her tips for shopping second hand at Christmas

My name is Zara and I have lived in Thame my whole life. I work for Oxfam in the Festivals & Events team and I love shopping second hand, in fact I love it so much I haven’t brought new clothes for well over a year! I also love shopping second hand at Christmas because I can find unique items, save the pennies and help the planet by not buying new.

Shopping second hand is a fantastic way to find a personal and thoughtful present and a sustainable way to refresh your winter wardrobe. According to new research by Oxfam shows that 74% of Brits are shopping more sustainably this festive season than five years ago and 3 out of 4 people have said they would be happy to receive a second hand present! Keep reading to find out my top tips for sprucing up your winter wardrobe and shopping more sustainably this Christmas (and beyond).

My top tips

1. Support local charity shops

More than ever, local charity shops need your support. On 2nd December I ventured out to the local charity shops and picked up a few Christmas decorations, a Christmas jumper for myself and some presents for my family. I also took a trip to the Oxfam Superstore (Oxford) which was packed full of second hand goodies. I brought some stocking fillers and small gifts for my family. You can also find lots of festive party wear and Christmas jumpers from your local charity shops.

Environmental charity Hubbub ran a campaign last year and warned against buying new seasonal garments after finding that up to 95% of them are made using plastic. The charity also estimated that in the UK will buy 12 million festive jumpers this year, despite already owning 65 million from previous years!

Hubbub says “we urge people to swap, buy second-hand or re-wear – and remember a jumper is for life, not just for Christmas.”

2. Spruce up your wardrobe

Shop your wardrobe!

As consumer we have been so used to buying new clothes for each occasion, when in fact we already own so much! Did you know that there are over £13 billion worth of unworn clothes in the nation’s wardrobes? Yet we always seem to have nothing to wear!

My top tip to tackle this problem is a wardrobe reshuffle and a stock check around each season change. When I do this, I designate items to be donated, swapped and sold on. I recommend getting to know everything in your wardrobe and bring items to the front that have been hidden and forgotten about. I recently found that I had two of the same cardigans and have now gifted one to a friend.

Share – borrow – give

Swaps are great ways to refresh your wardrobe and give items you own a chance to be loved by someone else. You could organise a clothes swap with a group of close friends, colleagues at work or in your community. Sadly with social distancing guidelines, this will be difficult to do on a large scale. But I have done this recently by taking photos of the items and sending them in a group chat with friends. They can request any items they would like and I donate the rest to my local charity shops. You could also post your items on Olio, Freebay or Thamebay.

Shop second hand

Like I said, I haven’t brought new clothes for over a year, but that does not mean I have gone without and you find more about my tips to ditch fast fashion here. My top tip is to start small, for example this Christmas say no to a brand new Christmas outfit and instead opt to buy an outfit second hand.

3. Shop second-hand present shopping

Buying presents and stocking fillers second hand is easier than you think. Although you may not be able to find exact items you are looking for, regardless you will be able to find unique items your friends and family can cherish.

Here are some second hand gift ideas:

  • Books – they make great presents and you can tailor the book to the person you are buying for. Be sure to check out the local charity shops, the Oxfam Bookshop and the Oxfam Online Shop.
  • Children’s toys – charity shops are great for used and new toys. You can also donate some of their used toys when purchasing some new second hand ones to free up space.
  • Gift wrap/bags – I recently brought some used gift bags for just 20p, as well as some vintage and winter scarfs that I can use to eco-wrap small items. (Read more ideas from Love Thame Hate Waste for eco-wrapping here)
  • Mugs – Why not buy a cute mug which you can then fill with some festive hand made treats or some hot chocolate sachets.
  • Board games & puzzles – charity shops and eBay are great for new and vintage board games and puzzles. I recently picked up a puzzle mat for £2 from Thame’s Shaw Trust shop and a couple of puzzles from Cancer Research & Sobell House. Ebay is also great for second hand games and I just brought 4 puzzles for £5 (just be sure to check the item description to make sure they are complete).
  • Stocking fillers – you can find lots of nic-nacs in charity shops, from key rings to socks. Many charity shops may also be selling sweets/chocolates so make sure you check out those. My favourite is the Divine chocolate that can be found in Oxfam shops.
  • Jewellery – some of my favourite jewellery is second hand. My top tip is to always look in the glass cabinet in whichever charity shop you are in, because there are treasures to be found.
Local charity shops (I highly recommend the Oxfam Superstore in Oxford!)
Oxfam Online Shop
Facebook Marketplace, Thame Bay & Freebay Thame
ASOS marketplace
CEX- great for second hand electronics, games and films (the local store is in Aylesbury)

Best of luck Christmas treasure hunting!

Have a wonderful Christmas!