July is absolutely the season to be scouting for Christmas gifts.  It’s prime yard sale, flea market and auction time.  Avenues of approach are available to almost everyone that can help your family enjoy a debt-free holiday season, and find gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, house warming parties, or bridal and baby showers.

Yard sales are ‘prime hunting grounds’ for me as a place to find gifts for family and friends.  I’ve seen bread machines, kitchen mixers (even the big expensive stand models), toasters, blenders, all kinds of sets of dishes – china, stoneware, serving dishes, pots and pans both single and in sets, cookbooks, baking pan sets, sheets and pillowcases, towel sets, decorator items – you name it, I’ve probably seen it.

All of the above were in unopened boxes!  When I get brave enough to ask "why?",  The sellers usually tell me something like: "I already have one, or two, or three"; "I didn’t like the color, it didn’t match my kitchen"; "I don’t cook!"; "I’m not interested in ‘house stuff’ "; “We combined two households and already have two of everything and don’t need any more!"

I bought several things for gifts that day as the boxes had never been opened and were not scuffed up from being moved around. The bread machine was $5; a set of dishes for 8 was $15, a toaster was marked $3, and on and on (the gal said she just wanted to "be rid of the stuff”.
Sure did make my budget look a whole lot better, and the families I gave the things to got something they could really use.

If you plan to give food gifts at Christmas time, an auction is a good place to find canning jars (they are almost a dollar each in the stores).  A friend of mine got six boxes of jars at an auction for $2 per box, and there were three dozen jars in each box – complete with the rings to hold the lids on!
There is no better Christmas gift than some home-made wild grape jelly, a jar of strawberry jam or a jar of specialty pickles. Stash them on a pantry shelf to await the season.  These things are easily made while produce is very fresh and available at a reasonable price. Try the farmers markets – you get to talk to the folks who actually grow the produce and can find out how it was treated (sprays, etc., or not) and, you support your local producers who in turn buy your goods you sell in your stores. A win-win for everyone.

Another possibility at yard sales/auctions is old furniture (antiques) that are in good condition, but might need refinishing.   Years ago, I bought a solid wood highboy dresser at a household auction for the princely sum of just $9.  It had so much paint on it that nobody wanted to tackle the thing. I took it home and stripped/scraped off at least six very badly applied coats of paint. (I think some of the paint was old and thick and whoever painted the dresser just blobbed it on in spots. It was awful.)  But, it was summertime, and I could do about 99% of the work outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Sanded, stained and varnished, it made a perfect ‘antique’ gift.

Flea markets are a good place to find pretty serving dishes, sets of old linens (embroidered), vintage tablecloths, etc. Boxes of children’s books are another find, usually very inexpensive.

Some of the ‘box’ stores also start their ‘Back to School’ sales in July, and it’s a wonderful time to stock up on crayons, pencils, reams of paper (both colored and white), markers, etc.

Any of the above make wonderful birthday gifts as well as Christmas gifts and, encourages creativity in the small fry.

Christmas in July? Absolutely! Saves me lots of money and hassle (I hate shopping).
 Note from Pennywise:
As always, if you have tips or ideas to share, send them to me at Pennywise, Box 518, Kadoka, SD 57543 or better yet, email me at [email protected]
P.S.: Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond!