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Thrifty Parenting: Shopping Used for Kids' Seasonal Items

As Halloween, Thanksgiving, and winter holidays approach, many parents feel like they're school shopping all over again. Suddenly, the fuzzy sweaters, jackets, and boots that kept the kids warm last year are nowhere to be found, or no longer fit. It's time to go clothes shopping again, or else risk showing up at holiday get-togethers with naked children.

If you're short on clothes for the little ones, and short on cash, thrift shopping can be a great way to save some money while finding unique and adorable seasonal outfits for kids. Use this style guide to bundle the youngsters without crashing your holiday budget:

  1. Look for Outerwear

    Thrift stores can be a great place to find jackets, gloves, and scarves for cooler weather. Sometimes, a good coat can be expensive, but thrifting can save you money, especially if your child is going through a growth spurt and will likely need a bigger jacket before spring. Be sure to check zippers and buttons to make sure the coat is in working condition, and leave a little room for layers underneath.

  2. Try to Mix and Match

    At thrift stores, you never know what you'll find. However, the eclectic mix can make outfit-building a bit challenging. Try to stick to neutral colors and pieces that you can layer to make many different looks from a handful of pieces. If you're looking for party-specific outfits, try to find fun or more formal outfits that can be worn again. That reindeer dress might be cute, but your daughter will likely only wear it once. A more simple red dress can still be festive without being disposable.

  3. Focus on Comfort

    Kids need clothes they can run, jump, and crash in. Resist the temptation to buy ill-fitting clothes just because they're at a discount price.

  4. Watch for Sales

    Another good thrifting tactic is to watch the sales. According to, thrift stores often run periodic specials, meaning you can save even more money by finding a half-off used item. Also remember to check the store frequently, since new donated items are brought out regularly, and you never know when your child's next favorite piece will arrive.

  5. Don't Forget Accessories

    Finally, thrift stores can be a great place to find fun and quirky accessories for extremely low prices. A belt or a unique bracelet might be exactly what your child's holiday outfit needs to look special and festive. At a thrift store, there are often dozens and dozens of unusual accessories to choose from, priced at no more than a couple of dollars. Even children's shoes and boots can be affordable thrift choices, since you know that the coming ice and mud will demolish at least one pair of your kid's sneakers.

Kids grow a lot. And they're messy. Maybe that's why the average American household spends $1,700 on clothes annually. This year, you can boost your holiday cash by saving a few bucks on seasonal children's clothes. Visit your local thrift store for funky fall and winter style, without breaking the bank.


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