Holiday shoppers save big celebrating 'Thriftmas Christmas'

Thrift store shopping over the holidays can be a way to save on spending while helping the environment at the same time.

Winnipeggers find creative ways to give while cutting back on spending and waste

Holiday shoppers save big celebrating 'Thriftmas Christmas'

7 years ago
Duration 2:13
Thrift store shopping over the holidays can be a way to save on spending while helping the environment at the same time.

The holidays are a time to give, and for many families giving means spending. But not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag, Hilda Penner says.

Penner has been volunteering at the Kildonan MCC Thrift Store for eight years. Her family celebrates "Thriftmas Christmas."

Nancy Stefanato is a long time thrift shopper who finds everything she needs for gift giving at the thrift store. (Holly Caruk/CBC)
"Several years ago, we as a family decided that for our gifts we would purchase them all at thrift [stores]," she said.

Penner shops for the entire family throughout the entire year.

"We decide on an amount of money, then I get to do all the shopping.... Christmas day, they don't know what they are getting or what they are giving," Penner said. "I like the fact that it's a gift that gives twice."

The MCC Thrift stores are run by the Mennonite Central Committee, which uses the money raised be selling the donated goods to fund various charitable projects throughout the world.

Long-time thrift shopper Nancy Stefanato shops at the Kildonan MCC daily.

Hilda Penner shows off one of the unique items that the thrift store has to offer. (Holly Caruk/CBC)
"I love the hunt and finding that special item that is either special to me or special to someone else," Stefanato said. She also shops for Christmas gifts year round, and keeps her eye out for those special collector's items that can't be found in the malls.

"The shopping and the massive crowds and the traffic. I can't stand going to the malls. I avoid it at Christmas time," Stefanato said.

She said she finds everything she needs for the holidays at thrift stores. Decorations, stocking stuffers and gifts — and all for a great price.

"Not everything is gently used or used, there's a lot of stuff here that is brand new," Stefanato said. "There's nothing wrong with it, it's great for gifts."

Good for your wallet, good for the environment

Saving money also translates to saving on waste. Giving second hand goods a new life means keeping them out of landfills.

Nancy Stefanato loves the thrill of the hunt for those one-of-a-kind vinatage finds at the thrift store.
Jennifer Feschuk, Waste Reduction and Composting co-ordinator at the Green Action Centre, said thinking about waste reduction is key when it comes to gift giving with a conscience.

"A lot of it has to do with the wrapping. There's ways that you can reduce the wrapping and thinking about re-usable items for wrapping your gifts," Feschuk said.

Shopping at thrift stores can be a way to buy low-cost re-usable items like baskets or fabric to use in place of wrapping paper. Buying used toys and board games also cuts down on packaging.

"A lot of times the packaging on toys, for example, that stuff all ends up in the landfill," Feschuk said.

"If you're mindful in your gifts and you're thinking about reducing your packaging, then you're thinking about reducing your impact as well."

Feschuk added that giving experiential gifts is a way to cut back on waste while providing the gift of time and memories as well.
Jennifer Feschuk, of the Green Action Centre, says cutting up last years Christmas cards is a great way to make your own gift tags. This cuts back on waste and saves you money. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"Nowadays we really have to focus on trying to make experiences and not clutter ourselves with stuff," she said.

"You can purchase something that is an experience for them: tickets to a show, or a gift certificate for a restaurant … something that is more about the experience that you can build a memory from, instead of just an object that will eventually just end up in the garbage."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?