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The List: 7 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Make From Thrift-Store Finds

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Gift cards aren’t the only last-minute presents you can give. Check out these thrifty gift ideas to keep your friends and families smiling.

If you still have a few last-minute people on your gift list, but can’t bear the thought of going to the mall (and it’s too late to order online), I’ve got a suggestion: Head to your local thrift store, or comb through your house, instead, and see if you can scrape up the materials to make these quick and easy projects. Bonus: Many of these are also great host gifts, so keep them in mind if you’re heading to a New Year’s party!

1. Personalized Wine Glasses: Raid the thrift store for some plain wine glasses, and get ready to decorate! You can pick up some etching cream at a craft store to make custom-made, etched wine glasses, or grab a permanent marker at home and draw right on the glasses. Freehand a design or use stencils — you can go as simple as initials, or make an elaborate (and festive!) design.

2. Mug Cozies: Use some old, colorful wool sweaters to make these cute cozies, perfect for making it more comfortable to hold a metal travel mug or a glass mason jar when the holidays keep you on the move. These cozies are also great to keep in your backpack or handbag to use at coffee shops, in place of disposable coffee sleeves.

3. Picture Frame Tray: An ornate picture frame, a couple of drawer handles, and a coat of paint is just about all it takes to make a pretty tray, perfect for serving up a cup of tea and a plate of cookies. Make it extra personal by using a photo of you and your gift recipient in the frame so it doubles as a memento.

4. Valet Tray: A smaller picture frame and a square of suede or other soft fabric can be made into a valet tray for the dresser to corral jewelry, keys, change, cufflinks, and other odds and ends. If you’re feeling especially generous, you could give both trays together as a matching set!

5. T-Shirt Superhero Cape: Old t-shirts, preferably ones with no printing on the back, can be easily transformed into a superhero cape for a kid who loves playing dress-up and saving the planet. Just use an iron-on patch or stitch a superhero logo or their initial on the back!

6. Chalkboard Mugs: Plain white mugs and a stripe of chalkboard paint make the most expressive ways to enjoy one’s morning coffee. If you’re good at freehand painting, you can even paint the chalkboard paint in the shape of a thought bubble.

7. Record Album Bowl: It seems like every thrift store has a section of old records. Find a funky album that fits the taste of your recipient to turn into a decorative bowl that makes a fun conversation piece.

Have you used thrift-store bargains to make a gift? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • Susan S. 2 days ago
    Here's something I learned from my Grandmother... She would save greeting cards and Christmas cards in a pretty basket and use them to make lists on. This way she was able to enjoy the card again and the thicker paper held up and was easier to find in her purse. She reasoned that people spend money and time picking out a card- why not enjoy it twice? I do this and love reviewing the cards and having a sturdy list.
  • Susan S. 1 month ago
    I use old t shirts to polish silver and as the last step for cleaning mirrors/windows to remove lint.
  • lisa p. 1 month ago
    the pledge was about halloween costumes so why continue to reuse this article about Xmas gifts that gets re-posted about twice a month? Please consider making at least a SMALL effort to match the day's pledge to a correctly themed article since you don't like to write new articles.
  • Gina L. 1 month ago
    The record bowl has always been favorite. I haven't tried it yet. Looking for thrift stores who carry colored albums.
  • Barbara C. 4 months ago
    You can also replace the picture frame's glass with a piece of plastic needlepoint "canvas". That way, you can use it to hold sets of pierced earrings (each earring goes through the hole in the "canvas". I painted several frames for gifts and added a pair of earrings I made for each of my friends.
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