New or used gift: Does it matter?

My daughter doesn’t differentiate between new and used. She’s 8 years old, and to her stuff is just stuff. Even in the case of a gift.

This story begins with a birthday party. I keep a stack of Barnes & Noble gift cards for kids’ birthday parties. I have the stack for a variety of reasons – the gift cards keep things simple, require little shopping, and I like to give books as gifts.

That said, my gift card stash was depleted and a birthday party was imminent. A Sunday morning bookstore dash was becoming likely, but I stayed silent. I wanted my daughter, who is an excellent problem solver, to come up with a solution. And she did.

Surprisingly and thankfully, my daughter didn’t mention going to a store. Instead, she started going through her stuff. Knowing that her friend loves Pokemon, she thumbed through her Pokemon movies. “How about this?” She offered up a favorite, Lucario and the Mysteries of Mew. “Sure,” I said gleefully.

There was a moment of silence. The gears in her head were spinning. “If I give this to Chaz, can we get another one?” Impressed that she was willing to give away a favorite, and excited about not going to a store, I said “sure.”

Gently used birthday gift with homemade card

What I appreciate about my daughter’s thought process is that she considered what she had, and not what the closest store had. She found a great gift and it didn’t matter that it was used.

I was thinking of popping out to buy something, but my daughter found a great gift amongst her things. In her mind, stuff is stuff. New or used, it’s all the same. And why not? A great gift is a thoughtful gift. It doesn’t matter if it’s used or new.

What about you? Do you give gently used gifts? Have you gotten a used gift? What did you think? Please share your thoughts in a Comment.

Postscript: We should be near the end of my daughter’s Pokemon phase. I’m hoping that if the dvd is replaced, it will be with something else – a different used dvd.

Postscript #2: I read this post to my daughter today and she thought I missed an important point. The dvd  was originally her birthday gift from me. She told her friend as much and he loved the gift.

Postscript #3: Enough with the postscripts. 


  1. Another great parenting moment! Congratulations! You gave your daughter the time and space to come up with a solution on her own, instead of rushing in and taking care of it yourself.

    She gains confidence and problem-solving skills and probably found her friend a gift he liked better than what you would have chosen.

    My niece is 8 and I often give her jewelry I no longer wear or doesn’t suit me. Of course she doesn’t even know it’s used, but she might like it even better if she knew it belonged to Aunt Angela first.

    My brother is going through a tough time and recently had a birthday. One of the gifts I gave him was a beautiful “worry stone” to rub on that my mother had given me years ago. I actually love it and didn’t want to part with it, but I wasn’t using it. So I told him he could use it until someone else in the family needed it more- maybe me!- and then he could pass it along. He really loved it.

  2. My daughter was given a “used” book for one of her birthdays. The friend who gave it to her chose it because the title was my daughter’s name and the book had belonged to her grandmother, who also shared the name, when she was a child. I checked with her mom to make sure it was okay since it was a family book and she said that her daughter had insisted that she wanted my daughter to have that book. My daughter will always treasure that gift.

  3. I have two weddings to go to this summer, and I am seriously considering re-gifting to both couples. I have two sets of glassware, both still in the box — one is glasses plus matching chip/dip set, one is glasses with matching pitcher. Both seem appropriate for the intended recipients. I don’t think either of the original givers to me would be offended. Saves me money, gets something I’m not using out of the house. But I’m having trouble making the mental commitment that yes, that’s what I’m giving to these people. Any thoughts? –Mary

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