I work at the Hospital Thrift Store. First of all, I NEVER thought I would end up there. I also never thought I would actually enjoy working at a place like that. That's probably why I never thought I would end up there. I absolutely and almost totally enjoy my job. There are rough days of course. I'll give you a very recent example. It's Monday AND Valentines day. That is two strikes against a day, especially for someone whose relationship status isn't compatible for that type of holiday. I get to work to open the store and see that someone has left an after hours donation at our back gate. At first I was a little bit happy because we haven't had many donations in the last few weeks. HINT HINT! (go clean your house and donate your stuff) I walked over with trepidation though. Usually those type of donations are crap. Not in the literal sense luckily. They use our back gate as a dumping ground because they are too lazy to drive to the dump. They do it when we aren't there because then we can't refuse to take it! We were the lucky recipients of 2 icky doors, a grossed-out aquarium that hasn't been cleaned since the flood, a few bags of clothes that I was scared to look in, 2 kitchen sinks covered in the red dirt of our beautiful desert, and a toilet also covered in that same dirt which doesn't look quite so beautiful when it is marring the surface of white porcelain. Other than days like that though, I usually love my job. The day ended up turning out better than it started. Now that I have sufficiently veered off onto a tangent that really has nothing to do with the direction I had first intended for this post to go, I will cut across the median and get back on my original thought roadway.
I recently attended the wedding of my best friend. It was awesome! I wish that I had planned their gift better. I should have given myself 2 or 3 months to find exactly what it was that I wanted to give them. I almost never go out shopping at other stores, which is a good thing because it saves me money, so that means I have to plan my needful purchases and keep a sharp eye out for them when they are donated. I'm a fan for recycling items, the details of that probably belong in an entirely different blog post though. I have decided that I need to make a list of things that I should look out for in case I have more friends that decide they need to get married because they fell in love or something.
1. Old fashioned copper jello molds, especially the most common one that happens to be in the shape of a fish. The reason I think that one is the most common is because it is the most donated one. Maybe that isn't the reason I see it the most though, maybe it's the most hated one and everyone is trying to get rid of it. The reason it's donated though is entirely irrelevant. If you can find a fish one though, it makes the gift even better! It's quirky and something they aren't likely to get for their wedding. I would suggest getting a few packets of jello, some raisins, and dried carrots to go with this glorious jello mold. I would also suggest getting them a gift card for a store that would actually have useful items as well. That way they won't think you are just crazy and at least they will be able to buy something they need and didn't get at their reception. They can also get a laugh at your gift and quite possibly hang it on the wall and leave it there, or just donate it again to the nearest second hand store. May I suggest bringing your donations to 76 W. St. George Blvd. It is a convenient and centralized location in the St. George area. The profits from this organization also go back to the hospital. Those profits help pay for needed equipment, grants, scholarships, and other things of that sort.
2. A salad bowl and tongs. They are quite cheap at a thrift store and then you can crumple up hundred dollar bills and make them look like salad. Or you can use one dollar bills. It all depends on your budget and your love for the couple that is getting married. Sometimes you can find fake fruits and vegetables at thrift stores. They make great accents to your money salad. Wrap the finished product in some cellophane and you have a really unique and cute gift.
3. A small specialized kitchen appliance. Sort of like a waffle maker but even more specialized. We've had quesadilla makers and crepe makers donated. Those little machines that make grilled cheese sandwiches or mini pie pockets come in frequently as well. Fondue sets also make regular appearances among our donations. They are actually a more common wedding gift but getting one at a thrift store will save you a lot of money. Let's face it, most of those items were probably only used 2 or 3 times. They are practically new! I think that these gifts are perfect for the couple that has a lot of shelf room that they don't mind filling up with appliances that will get little or no use because their regular pots or pans can do the job just as well. I would suggest adding a gift card to a useful store to this gift as well for the same reasons that I stated up above in suggestion number 1.
4. Quirky ice cube trays. The cute ones that make different shaped ice cubes! Now most young married couples are inexperience with household items. They will totally dig these trays and then end up never using them because they will get forgotten behind their useful tupperware containers that will be saving all their leftovers in the refrigerator. I actually saw a useful ice cube tray once though that froze the water into long thin bars. The customer informed me they were perfect for shoving inside of water bottles. I know that I've tried to shove those banana shaped ice cubes, the ones your freezer makes for you, into water bottles and it was just a pain. After they told me what the ice was used for, I was sad that they bought it before I did.
5. Speaking of refrigerators, one of those small ones would make a fun wedding gift. They can have cold soda or water next to their computers. Then they don't have to get up to go to the kitchen during their raids pvp battles against Draenei shaman on the lovely world of Azeroth... or something of a similar nature. Understandably this gift would probably only work for a small demographic.
6. An orange shag couch for their first apartment. Now this may be a little tricky wrapping and transporting to the reception. We all need a couch like that in our first apartment though. Usually you can find one on the street next to someone's garbage can. They are hoping that the garbage men will have pity on them and haul the couch away. Or they are hoping that some poor starving college kids will drive by and grab it. When free roadside couches are at a minimum, you can always check at thrift stores.
7. A storage bin that will fit a Christmas tree. If you don't clean up your Christmas decorations fast enough and get to the store ON boxing day, there won't be any of those left. For some reason the Thrift Store I work at saves EVERY single storage bin that is ever donated, even the ones that are falling apart. I would imagine that some of the other thrift stores in the area aren't quite as attached to those items though. So many get donated that they are bound to put some on sale at some point. Storage bins are a great gift and you can get them for next to nothing, if a store decides to part with them, and they are easy to clean up. They might get the hint that it has been used before if there is black sharpie on the side stating it was Joseph's D&D figure collection "Don't TOUCH". If the surface is smooth, you can get that off by coloring over it with dry erase marker and then wiping it off. The clear plastic ones come clean relatively easy.
8. A Hospital Thrift Store Gift certificate. These work really well for those individuals that shun deodorant/antiperspirant because it is bad for the environment. They are the ones that were born in the wrong time period and look like they got their clothes from their relatives that lived during the 60s. They LOVE second hand stores. That is probably how they get their authentic vintage duds. They love looking for "antiques" that they can resell on ebay for a hefty profit. On a side note, I've figured out that the difference between antique and vintage is this. With an antique, you know the year and you can prove that it's as old as it looks. With a vintage item, there is no proof that it isn't some modern facsimile of an antique that your great-grandfather probably paid .35 cents for. Back then that was a lot of money! They slap vintage at the front of any description so that you can feel better about paying 50 bucks for something that is probably worth 5.
9. Athletic equipment. When I say this, I do NOT mean that you should get them used protective cups for all their sport needs. I mean treadmills or stationary bicycles. I was going to type exercise but I couldn't figure out how to spell it and I wanted to make a joke about athletic equipment. Spell check works though.
10. A crazy looking floor lamp. Let's face it, they probably won't be able to buy a nice generic lamp because it is out of their budget. You can help alleviate their lighting problems by picking up one of the lamps they offer at thrift stores. The bigger and gaudier the better. Really you are just helping them out. They will look at that monstrosity, or monstrosities if you can find a matching set, and be especially motivated to try harder at school/work so that they can upgrade in the future, hopefully the not too distant future.
If you don't think that the bride and groom will appreciate these items to the fullest, you can always go get them something at Target. Or supplement any of those gifts with a gift card. Target gift cards can be really cute by the way. I think that these ideas can give anyone a smile though. Especially for you, the gift giver, as you imagine the look on their faces when they open up something that has come from a thrift store.