What Old Is New Again: This Christmas marks my third as a graduate student and the second since our nations economy took a jump off a cliff. As a poor student with limited funds I, like many others have mentioned, needed to take a more creative approach to gift giving this year. What I found was that by frequenting antique shops and flea markets I was able to save a lot of money but find very unique and one-of-a-kind gifts for my loved ones. Here are a few ideas that I had for you to mull over during this last weekend before Christmas:

Used Books: If you in the North New Jersey Area, I highly recommend the Montclair Book Center. They specialize in first editions and out of print books, but I was able to find several inexpensive and darling treasures for my grandfather and my boyfriend’s mother. Books make great gifts—as we already know—but older books can often double as pieces of art of to accent a room. I tried to choose books with illustrations or decorated bindings. A history buff like myself, I got a two-volume set on English history for my grandfather. It was difficult not keeping them for myself! For my boyfriend’s mother, a Latin teacher, I found a cute and illustrated third year lesson book for her vast collection.

Flea Markets: At a weekly flea market near my house, I was delighted to find two very pretty pieces for my mother and aunt. An artist who works with silver and other metals had framed some vintage stamps and set them in a silver setting. Adorable! For my mother, I picked out an image of the Virgin Mary from Haiti and for my aunt, a native of Spain, a stamp from the era of Franco. My favorite find at the market was a book of North American folk songs printed in 1960. I bought it for my musical boyfriend. He’ll love it. New Jersey has a particular love of flea and antique markets, but to find one near you in your state, try this helpful website which lists markets state and town.

Vinyl Records: This last gift idea is very near and dear to my heart. I have worked for the last six years in one of the last independent record stores where I have very lovingly cared for our extensive stock of used vinyl records. I love framing interesting covers and giving them as gifts. If you’re not sure what to get a person I suggest finding an album by one his or her favorite artist. If that doesn’t work, I would try to jazz or international music sections in a shop for fun vibrant covers. I find that these artists love playing with type faces and color. You don’t know where to find records?! Good Lord! Good thing there is a nifty website for the Record Store Day collective. Here you can search for local record shops in your area. As for frames, many stores sell them alongside of the records but if you can’t find them, check out Urban Outfitters for some very nice ones.

Good luck and Happy Hunting!

Alexandra went to Drew University with Olivia. She currently lives in Mendham, NJ while finishing her M.A. in Medieval Studies from Fordham University. She recently bought a puppy, Otis, with her boyfriend and he currently takes up much of her time and attention. But when not on puppy duty she loves adding to her record collection and reading. Once her M.A. thesis is completed she hopes to go to Library School and specialize in archival work and preservation studies. Whew!

Leave a Reply