Over here at The Mom Edit, we deeply appreciate a thoughtful, well-chosen, wildly unique gift. And as we brainstormed ideas for this holiday season, we realized that some of our best gift ideas (often based on favorite pieces at home) were items that didn’t necessarily need to be purchased new. And, in fact, some of these gift ideas were actually better – more unique, more charming, more nostalgic, perhaps – when they were sourced secondhand (not to mention, more sustainably sourced).
So we pulled together a list of our best vintage gift ideas. These ideas are gifts with wide appeal – they’re perfect for anyone who appreciates a truly unique, thoughtful gift – not just those who have no qualms about wearing a musty old coat. 😉
17 Gift Ideas That Are Actually Better Vintage (or Secondhand)
Below, we’ve rounded up categories of vintage gift ideas (depression wine goblets, for example, or vintage lockets), as well as our preferred online search terms and site. It turns out that “Daher tin” searched on Etsy (and/or Ebay, here) brings up much better results than, say, “vintage biscuit tin“. These search terms are important because most of the items we’re featuring are one of a kind, so will likely sell-out. That said, if you use our search terms, or – in some cases – recommended Etsy and/or Ebay sellers – you should be able to find similar pieces pretty easily.
Of course, if you’re a true treasure hunter, finding these gems in person would be a such a fun way to spend an afternoon. But, for the busy (or the allergic to dust, haha), we’re including the online sources as well.
1. Vintage Jewelry Boxes
Ditch the random jewelry dish and let your dresser take on a bit of a royal vibe. These scream luxury, even if the little pieces you’re putting inside of it don’t, haha. (Hey, inexpensive jewelry does do the job.) Would make a seriously beautiful gift for that person that has everything – and it doesn’t have to be just for holding jewelry.
2. Colorful, Antique Glasses (In A Mismatched Set)
I have a set of these at home – we bring them out for parties and nothing makes me happier. I highly recommend using Etsy Seller, Shop Penn Vintage. You can simply pick the number of glasses, the colors you’d like (you can also just ask for one color, if preferred), and they’ll put together the most incredible set for you. Etsy seller 1350 North Vintage does something similar, but seems to have more black/white glassware as well. My set has a mix of wine glasses and water goblets, but they’re all equally fun to drink out of.
Similar Vintage Glassware Sets
3. Vintage + Preowned Designer
Now THESE really give you that bespoke, suuuper special feeling – especially Coach (re) loved collection where there really is only one of each fabulous creation. It’s a fun way to be sustainable (especially in terms of giving not-so-sustianable materials like leather another life) and wardrobe-thoughtful (meaning they’ll likely have it forever, so choosing one in a style & color that they’d enjoy is key).
4. Pretty Biscuit Tins
I remember my parents having one of these tins on a shelf in the basement, so when I saw a similar one in Jess’ house, I felt a bit swoony. Apparently Jess noted my reaction, because she gifted me one on my birthday (looks a little like this). This tin remains one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received, and it looks so freaking cool sitting on my living room shelf. It turns out these are cookie (biscuit) tins, made by the Daher company in England. If you’re really feeling it, you could line one of these in parchment paper, and wrap cookies up inside.
Shop Similar Daher Tins
5. Old Books
When it comes to buying old books, there’s two ways you can *technically* go that any book lover would appreciate. There’s a ton of older, original editions on Amazon (and some previously-owned), or pretty recreations of classic stories (that you can probably find on most websites). But in light of us going truly secondhand, your best bet is Etsy or eBay.
6. Brass Candlesticks (Mismatched Set)
We originally started looking for silver candlesticks (so pretty, especially when the tarnished is cleaned off), but real silver candlesticks seem to be items that are highly valued by vintage shoppers and sellers alike. Which means, for us, the prices were really high, yet the selection was…boring. Old brass candlesticks, however? Ooooo. We especially love a mismatched set. Etsy was our favorite place to find curated sets, in addition to the two mentioned above, Etsy seller, Our Vintage Bungalow, also had some great sets.
And maybe consider a vintage candle snuffer, too. Such a fun little add.
Shop Similar Vintage Brass Candlesticks
If you know a comic/print/book enthusiast, it’s hard to go wrong with a super cool vintage comic. Also, if you know someone that you think would be a prime comic/print/book enthusiast, get their obsession started. (They’ll always have you to credit for it, hehe.) They’re really easy to find in your local home thrift/secondhand shop, and even easier online. This would be an easy, somewhat inexpensive collection to curate which makes it all the better (and makes finding the rare ones even more fun to splurge on).
8. Cute Teacups + Plates
Where to buy: Search “vintage teacups” on Etsy.
These are just so dang pretty, aren’t they? Another perfect gift for a friend who has it all (and, well, one that likes tea – or even coffee!). They’re so fun to look through on Etsy & make a really low-cost gift (even if you add on a tea sampler to go with it).
Where to buy: Etsy seller AllLittleCuteThings has a ton of vintage teapots, cups, saucers, mixed sets. Etsy seller DishUponAStar has an assortment of small vintage teapots, cups & saucers, too. (And $15 teapots).
For a tea or vintage homeware lover! We’re going to assume that if you’re getting a pretty vintage teapot for your friend that loves tea, they’ll just be putting it on a shelf to display their love and affection for the craft (of sipping!). And that’s perfect! These can be for use or for decoration, both are equally as great. I’d gift with a pretty set of teacups and a tin of yummy tea.
10. Vintage Magazines
Where to buy: The search terms will differ depending on what type of magazine your person would love, but we found some luck searching “vintage Vogue magazine” on eBay. Or search “vintage magazines” on Etsy.
11. Locket Necklace
For the jewelry enthusiasts! Charm jewelry has been popping up everywhere lately… so adding a bit of vintage appeal on top of current trends? That’s a home run of a gift if we ever heard it. It helps to know if your friend goes for silver or gold and/or if they have a simpler jewelry style or they go all out glam. Here are a top pick of each: silver, gold, minimalist, maximalist.
12. Mechanical Chess Clock
These are so freaking cool. Pair with a vintage chess set for the ultimate chess-lovers gift or tie a ribbon on that thing for a really gorgeous home decor present. This one is gold-rimmed and this one has a bit of neutral, modern flair. Love both.
Where to buy: Search “vintage maps” on Etsy, but go down to item details and check to make sure it says vintage and whatever year it’s from for the most authentic old maps instead of a reprint. You might also have some luck if you search “vintage cartography” on Etsy or eBay.
Unless your gift recipient is anti-tech (and good, optimal timing), we’re assuming that they’re either going to add these to a collection or frame ’em, so keep that in mind when picking through colors & designs. Pro tip: find a pretty obscure-yet-meaningful map if you can. It really ups the special.
Old vinyl records can feel really special, and I’d argue the pre-owned ones feel even more special. They were probably once loved by someone who’s now in their 80’s and saw rock bands perform at the peak of their careers. Maybe they even wore leather vests and flared pants but in the genuine, it’s-actually-the-70s kind of way. You can easily get a bunch of 99 cent or $2 records (or vinyl covers) at thrift stores or Etsy so they can be repurposed as art. But if you want the real deal – vinyl, cover and all – eBay is probably your best bet. Etsy has some bundles where they give you a bunch of random records for a pretty low price, too (and some will let you choose which ones).
If you have a sports fanatic in your life, there’s zero doubt they’d love a vintage pennant from their favorite team (especially if that said team won the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup etc etc, that year). But you can also find cool ones from different cities, states or landmarks on Etsy and eBay and — get this — I found one on Etsy from the ’40s of the Philadelphia Zoo. Sometimes it really is the little things.
16. Silver Vintage Frame
Where to buy: Etsy search, “vintage Sterling silver picture frame.”
These add a good bit of old-money charm to a space. They often come in very unique shapes with interesting little details. Super cool to add to really any style of space + it becomes even more meaningful if you throw a picture in there before you gift it (not necessary, tho).