7 things I always look for (and find) in thrift stores, plus 3 to skip

HO HO HO! MEEERRRRRY... Thanksgiving. Yes, I'm thinking about Christmas, but no, I am not "celebrating" Christmas in any way yet--just preparing for it, in ways various and sundry.

Because that's the job of the momager, right? Make lists, check them twice, change the beds, and stock up on Pyrex dishes? We all know what's coming down the pike in six weeks, and as the beloved Mr. Ramsey is fond of saying, Christmas is not an emergency. Sean and I have set our Christmas budget, and I'm starting to stock up on some housewares I like to have on hand before things get too nuts. 

I think I've beat the dead and upcycled horse here about how much I love thrift stores and bargain shopping. Today I'm sharing the specific items I look for when I pop into Goodwill and its ilk on the weekends.

1. Books 
Biggest secret of MY LIFE right here: I have been known to give my kids used books as presents. GASP. Through the year I scan for titles I know they'll love receiving: the Narnia trilogy, anything with Star Wars, or Eric Carle picture books, and Sandra Boynton board books. These are usually .25 up to $1.99, and I stash them through the year for Christmas presents and other holidays.

2. Vases
One of my favorite, tiny little thrills in life is to be able to take someone flowers, either from my yard or the store, in a glass vase--and tell them to keep the vase. It's like getting to play the FTD florist delivery guy for a day. Give someone flowers they can just plop right down on their desk, no cutting or vase-finding required, and you get a big smile in return. I usually scan the vases at thrift stores for cute little ones that cost about a buck.

3.White bowls & serving pieces
We somehow go through all six of our cereal bows daily, and I'm often faced with the conundrum of having to wash the dishwasher only half full, because I need those dang bowls again in the morning. A set of four matching bowls can be hard to find, but two or three? Done. Same thing for a new-to-you platters and Pyrex dishes for Thanksgiving. Best to look for them now, before the hosting season draws nigh.

4. Juice glasses
I've got small children.
I've got tile kitchen floors.
Stuff shatters. Frequently. I know juice glasses are already fairly cheap at discount stores like Ross and Marshalls, but I can often get small juice glasses, perfect for little pre-school hands, for .25 cents at a thrift store.

5. Sports equipment
Baseball gloves, badmitton rackets, soccer balls, shin guards... both at thrift stores and Once Upon a Child, these items are usually easy to find.

6. Playing cards
I once nabbed a still-in-the-plastic set of Star Wars playing cards at a Goodwill for .69 cents. They are still a hit around here, although I think we're missing Yoda (he's the ace of spades).

7. Wreaths
Take a stroll down the "holiday decor" aisle of the moment at the local thrift store and I guarantee there will be a pretty darn nice wreath to be had for the front door. These cost so much less than buying them at inflated prices at Target or Michael's.

So vases, wreaths, books, serving bowls, playing cards, sports equipment and juice glasses--those are my wins!

Now, 3 things I always skip:
1. Boys' pants
Boys are just way too rough on the knees of their pants to buy these second hand. I've gotten burned more than once with buying a used pair, only to have my little guy come home from school that afternoon with a hole in the knee already. I almost always buy boy pants on super sales at Old Navy, or regular WalMart prices.

2.  Mens' pants
Same deal! Costco frequently has mens' jeans for $15 or less--and he can take them back if he doesn't like how they fit. And then he can pick out his own damn jeans. ;)

3. Toys & stuffed animals
Yeah, no. I just try to wait for major Black Friday sales to buy the kids their Christmas toys.

I'd love to hear what are your go-tos in thrift stores! Linking up (super late) with Kelly for 7 quick takes.

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