Holiday Shopping — Non-Consumer Advocate Style

by Katy on December 1, 2009 · 19 comments

I have started my holiday shopping in earnest. This does not mean that I braved the 4:00 A.M. crowds for Black Friday, nor does it mean that I clicked my way through the internet for Cyber Monday. Shopping for me means hitting the thrift shops with an eye for gift giving.

I drove my younger son and myself up to Seattle on Friday morning to hang out with my sister and her family for the weekend. This is not only frugal, (scamming her Thanksgiving leftovers, which we ate delicious three nights in a row!) but is also shoptastic, because:

Sisters Wolk-Stanley + holiday season = Goodwill!

And my dear sister taught me an awesome lesson, which is that Oregon residents don’t have to pay Washington sales tax when shopping in their fair state. It did require a few minutes to fill out paperwork, but it saved me a couple of bucks!

Katy Wolk-Stanley + Goodwill discount  = happy Non-Consumer Advocate!

We hit up both the main Goodwill and the Ballard store. (We pretended we were in the area to take the kids to the zoo, but who were we kidding?)

I bought:

  • An Asian style button up dude shirt for my older son.
  • An Asian style button up dude shirt for my younger son.
  • Three Japanese manga graphic novels for the boys.
  • A darling top for myself.
  • A darling skirt for myself.
  • A brand new Neopets trading card game for my younger son.
  • Twelve brand new wooden hangers. (I am slowly replacing all my plastic hangers with wooden ones.)

I normally buy gifts all year long and then fill in the gaps come December, but I have been very disciplined this year and mostly kept out of the thrift stores. But last year’s snow storm taught me a lesson to not put the shopping off until the last minute, and I’m really quite enjoying the whole digging through the crap to find the treasure experience.

What can I say? I’m a cheap date!

Are you in full swing for your holiday shopping? Please share your finds and ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla December 1, 2009 at 6:19 am

Actually we started “shopping” on our own bookshelves. We still have a number of children’s books which we shopped to give to our eight grandchildren. I didn’t find something appropriate for each child this time but it seriously cut into buying new books for them. (We have a formula: something to wear, something to read and something for amusement for each child. That’s it.)

Reply December 1, 2009 at 7:16 am

LOL – Shopping on bookshelves is what I did at a friend’s place last night. I couldn’t get the James Herriot book I wanted for my niece on so my friend who had it on her bookshelf told me to take her’s. So I did and will mail it up.

My thing at Christmas is getting ball gowns for the Mardi Gras season. I got a fabulous black strapless gown worth $100’s for $9.99 at Goodwill. Now I will sell a dress from last year at a consignment store to pay for the hemming of the new dress.


Kat December 1, 2009 at 9:29 am

I usually make as many gifts as I can as inexpensively as possible. I also only give gifts to three people: mom, grandma and my room mate. This year mom is getting a bound copy of my thesis (I had to have two copies bound for the university archives anyway), grandma is getting a thread crochet angel panel/doily and my room mate is probably getting a small gift card to a local hardware store where he’s eternally running to get odd nuts and bolts.
Last minute gifts, should there be any, come from the pantry or my stash of completed crochet projects.


Bellen December 1, 2009 at 9:45 am

You mentioned filling out paperwork? What was it for? I’ve shopped in NH when living in CT – they have no sales tax, CT does – and didn’t have to declare or fill out paperwork. Is this something new?

As an aside – our 3 grandkids live 1200 miles away and since we don’t know what they have or need and don’t like just sending money or gift cards, we decided this year to give EE Savings Bonds ($25 buys a $50 bond) for Christmas and birthdays. Monthly they receive a letter, card or postcard from us – they’re delighted to get mail.


Kristen December 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I am not doing well on shopping this year at all. Nor have I been good about a wish list for myself. I did order something for my mom yesterday online and I am working on homemade cards for my mom and mother in law. The boys in the family are much harder!

Does OR not have a sales tax? You are probably supposed to report those purchases on your OR income tax return just as an FYI. I work as a corporate tax accountant so I don’t know all the individual rules. However I know if you buy something online and don’t pay state sales tax you are supposed to report it on your actual return. I am not sure anyone does though!


ksmedgirl December 1, 2009 at 6:45 pm

You must have some really nice goodwill stores there. I can count on one finger how many times I’ve found a good deal at my local store.


Karen December 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

This tax thing seems so grasping! As a resident of
California, I was very irked when our tax instructions added the requirement to pay tax to the state of Cali on things bought in Oregon. Excuse me? If I bought it in Oregon, how could I owe tax to Cali, rationally or ethically. We visit beautiful Oregon every chance we get (both of us are grads of Marylhurst U), and yes, we do buy some stuff while there. Isn’t it enough to abide by the sales tax law of the state one is visiting? Interestingly, Cali did not push this requirement until the economy went south. Hmmm.

On the holiday shopping front, I have made a tiny start by buying luscious little cakes of French soap for the few people we buy presents for. At 1.29 per cake, this won’t break the budget ; )


Tracy December 1, 2009 at 7:04 pm

That’s how it works when I cross the bridge into Windsor, Ontario, Canada from Detroit. Americans fill out the paperwork to get back the goods & services tax we paid on anything we bought up to some amount.


Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet December 1, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I am by no means telling you to do something illegal, but how does Cali know what you bought in Oregon? I guess it would be the honor system, but that really doesn’t seem fair. On the flip side, it is awfully nice of Wash. to not tax oregon residents. Thankfully PA is still a state that doesn’t tax groceries and clothing.

As far as Christmas shopping, I’m about half way done. I do shop in regular stores, but we are not going overboard with our kids.


Tracy December 1, 2009 at 7:08 pm

We’ve got some really great resale stores around metro Detroit. I go in particular to an American Council for the Blind thrift store in Dearborn Heights, a suburb of Detroit, and a Value World (not nonprofit, it’s a resale store chain) in the suburb of Taylor. At the latter, a couple of weeks ago, I found a pair of black Liz Claiborne lined dress pants in my size with the tags from Lord & Taylor still attached, and the original price was $109. I got ’em for $16, which is high for Value World, but cheap for a new pair of quality pants.


amy December 2, 2009 at 7:42 am

We have some good Salvation Army stores in NJ where you can sometimes find good quality second hand clothes, furniture and other household stuff.


Pat December 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I’m like you in that I pick up stuff all year long. I’ve been done with the Christmas 2009 stuff for a while now and it is all wrapped and hidden away. I still keep my eyes open though just in case I stumble on something for any upcoming birthdays or next Christmas.


todd from mississippi December 2, 2009 at 9:31 pm

my system for christmas giving has evolved over the years to a very simple process. i discover one or two awesome items/projects/products each year, produce/purchase it in bulk, and send them out by the dozen.

one year, i gave just about everyone the soundtrack to motion picture “the mission” (if you haven’t heard it, you should). One year i found this great recipe for aging blackberries (that grow on my property) in over-the-counter, good quality brandy. the process took a year but the result was stunning. those that did not drink alcohol got the book “the greatest story ever sold.” this year, i found a place online that knits personalized 62″x62″ quilts for $30 each. i’m putting my farm logo on it and that is what everyone will get.

now, my daughter bought into the idea and gives all our family members a framed picture of herself. she was 6 when she started this and now she is 14 and everyone covets the annual photo … it catalogs/archives her life.


Brian December 7, 2009 at 12:27 pm

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