Charity shop challenge: How I got pressies for all my family for less than £70

From a gorgeous gold handbag to some retro furniture – not to mention a bit of a designer bling – I’ve managed to make a nice dent on my family Christmas shopping without having to spend a fortune.

Last year, Brits spent just under £400 each on pressies – but with the UK in the grip of a cost of living crisis, it’s no wonder a recent survey found that nearly half of people aged 16-24, and over a fifth aged 55 and up, have said they’re going to buy from charity shops this year.

I have always considered myself someone who shops sustainably – even hiring my party dresses from rental platform – but I must admit I hadn’t really considered applying the same to my Christmas shopping.

To be honest, I’ve always been slightly worried about what the quality might be like, or whether I could actually get anything of real value that someone would cherish.

However, when set the challenge to scour my local charity shops to see if I could source some truly decent Christmas presents for the family, I knew I had to give it a go.

Not only did I manage to walk away with amazing goodies, but felt a spring in my step handing over my money and knowing it was all going to a good cause.

I was also shopping local, supporting the high street and bringing my own bags, rather than contributing to the not-so-festive packaging mountain of online shopping.

Within minutes of starting the challenge, I’d spotted my first bargain without even going inside the Cancer Research UK charity shop in North-West London – it was literally staring me in the face hanging in the window front.

It was a Vogue-inspired montage framed print that looked like it had been donated by an art gallery. It was also in beautiful condition – perfect for my husband who has been collecting art for many years.

And picture this – it was on sale for £10. I was so shocked I was half expecting the shop assistant to tell me they had left a zero off the price tag!

As I scoured the shop for further goodies, I spotted a fake fur neck hot water bottle for my sister, who is constantly complaining working from her home office is giving her neck ache. I’d been eyeing one up for her elsewhere, so knowing they usually cost at least £10 grabbed it, here it was £7.99 and still had all it’s packaging so was still brand new.

Next up was a visit to the Sue Ryder shop –  a charity that supports people with terminal illness, the loss of a loved one or a neurological condition – where I discovered a retro chair with tassels placed in the centre of the shop.

I actually wondered if it was placed there for us weary shoppers to rest our legs. But no, this was on sale for £20 and perfect for my sister-in-law who collects antiques and I know she loves a bit of 70s kitsch. The only drawback now is how to wrap it, but at least I’ve got her covered.

My son would normally turn their noses up at me if I offered them a phone case for Christmas, but that’s because I refuse to spend money on a designer one.

However, that all went totally out the window when I entered Oxfam’s shop on Finchley High Street, where on display was a £19.99 Gucci phone case – bought brand new this would usually set you back at least £200. I was reassured this was the real deal – and not a fake one – so I quickly got my hands on it, as other shoppers swarmed in ready to pounce.

I also discovered an array of really cool handbags on the shelves – some designer looking ones and all in good nick. An embellished gold bag caught my eye, which I knew my mum would love. Although £9.99, it looked far more expensive than the price tag – and I knew it would be a lovely gift to give her when we go for Christmas lunch.

Oxfam has some incredible deals on its books. Hard-back Jamie Oliver cookbooks were on sale for just £1.99 each so I bought one for my best friend Rachel as she loves his recipes. I gave the book a quick once over – no torn pages or recipe stains – I’m pretty sure they have never been used, let alone opened.

Plus, another bonus was that I could pick up cards and gift wrapping in store, if I wanted to. I’m sure they were cut price as at 50p a card and £2.99 for recycled wrapping paper, both felt like bargains.

Once home I took a look at my haul and must admit I was pretty pleased with myself. I’d be fibbing if I said I wouldn’t be buying a few more gifts for the family this year, but by supplementing some of the cost through second hand shops, I know I’ve saved myself a shedload of money.

But being a savvy saver wasn’t the only thing I experienced – every member of staff had a smile on their face when I checked out; there’s a real good feel factor about buying gifts for our loved ones, and it goes without saying knowing your money is going to a charity shop, is an added bonus.


Husband – framed piece of art: £10

Best friend – cookbook: £1.99

Sister-in-law – retro armchair: £20

Son – designer phone case: £19.99

Mum – gold embellished bag: £9.99

Sister – faux fur hot water bottle: £7.99

TOTAL: £69.96

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