Alternative Christmas Shopping

So, since I just wrote a kind of anti-shopping post (over on SD Writing Women, if you didn’t see it) I thought I’d completely switch gears and write a post about shopping!

I absolutely friggin love going to the Swap Meet. First, it allows me to be smug about my eco-friendliness, and if there’s anything I like, it’s being SMUG. Second, you can find interesting shit at the swap meet*1. Third, it’s sometimes dirt-cheap. If I were a billionaire, or a millionaire, I’d go to the swap meet and I’d buy even more stuff. I’d probably take a truck with me.

Also, there’s a bag of donut holes in it for you, if you come with.

Gift Ideas

Anyway, the swap meet is not just a bunch of people reselling junk they bought at other garage sales *2. It’s also people selling stuff they made.

Vendors vary, but here are a few worth checking out if you go; or find them on the web.

Kreamy Soaps had a booth on Saturday, but not today. That’s right! I went to the SM twice in one weekend just for you, kind and dear readers.

These soaps are VEGAN all natural made with vegetable oil yadda yadda yadda. Who cares? They smell delicious, look beautiful, and are not very expensive.

I wanted to buy more today but they weren’t there, so I’ll have to go to their website, which is also running a deal: Buy 12, get 1 free.



I bought Sassafras and Anise. Yes, they both smell like dark licorice or root beer. My stomach growls when I sniff the bag. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

Bars are just 2.50 each. They also have apparently a miracle bar that is $10.


How about some used, kind of rare books for your book loving friend? I got these three for $10. The cheapest price I found online for the Handy Book was $7.



I picked up these three: the Mother Goose, because it’s hard to find a plain old nursery rhyme book; the Fanny Farmer cookbook, because I like old cookbooks; and my favorite, The American Boys Handy Book.

This is like the original Dangerous Book for Boys, and it is way more awesome.

Firstly, it is published by Tuttle, the same company that published THE AMERICAN WAY OF HOUSEKEEPING. You know, only the inspiration book for Housewife. I didn’t even realize it until today. I guess I’m a Tuttle magnet.


Would a modern book have SNOWBALL WARFARE?


How about how to bind a prisoner without a cord? Doesn’t everyone need to know that?


How about making yourself into a kite to skate across a frozen pond (before falling through to your icy death. Hey, this kid is only wearing like pajamas to play in the snow. That’s how tough people used to be).



My son will have the whole neighborhood crying in no time flat!

If only we had snow.

How about, how to rear wild birds? (even hummingbirds?)







For prefab stuff, this guy had Angry Birds and Domo, for around $15 apiece. And a lot of Hello Kitty. At least if you buy it from this guy, it’s going to a random local and not a big box store.




I also bought a tutu for Little Girl from this place. Charger colors, below. I did not buy Charger colors. (Sidenote: I am a more accurate thrower than Philip Rivers. I am not joking. I don’t close my eyes when I throw the ball). I’m saving the tutu for Christmas, so don’t tell.

By the way, did you know the Hawaiian word for Grandma is Tutu? It caused a bit of confusion for Little Girl when she started ballet.


And more tutus and headbands below:


Delicious local honey, from hives in San Marcos. They don’t have a website, but the guy told me his friend grows the honey there. The jars are a mite pricey; the Desert Blossom was $20, but they’re huge jars.



To sum up: go to your local swap meet or Farmer’s Market or Christmas craft fair to buy gifts. Sorry I MADE you read all that to get to the point.

Local mommy blogger La Jolla Mom also recommends checking out resale stores for more bargains or to unload your kid items for quick cash; check out her article for more ideas.


*1 And today there was literal shit there. In an antique metal bed pan. I hoped it was fake (Cadillac said it was NOT). UGH! I know that is disgusting, I don’t know what the vendor was thinking, and I’m sorry you now have to bleach your minds-eye. At least I did not photograph it.  And yes, I am FOOTNOTING my blog posts again.

*2 There are a LOT of clown portraits at the swap meet. Next Halloween I’m decorating all in the theme of scary-ass clown (which means ANY clown.)

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

One thought on “Alternative Christmas Shopping

  1. I have always wanted to go to the Swap Meet. So just let me know when you’re going next. I’m there! I find the most amazing things at Goodwill, so I’m sure I can find some treasures at the swap meet.

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