Gag gift exchanges seem to be the new normal for holiday parties, and it’s easy to understand why.  You don’t have to spend hours deliberating over the “perfect gift” that shows how much you know your third cousin twice removed.  And then said third cousin doesn’t have to pretend that she really needed those new oven mitts.

Gag gift exchanges are fun – and they’re easy on the pocketbook.  My family puts a $5 limit on the exchange.  Now, I have mastered the skill of Goodwill shopping for my gag gifts.  Thrift stores are always great places to look for low-budget exchanges because our stores have so many unique items.

I see gag gifts as falling into two categories – ones that could be re-purposed and ones that are completely useless.  The type of gift you buy really depends on your audience, what type of reaction you are looking for, and the mood you’re in.  On a recent trip to the Benson Park Plaza Goodwill store, I found a few example of both.

Useful gag gift

On the more useful side, there is plenty to choose from.  Goodwill has odd decorations, interesting pillows, or unusual household tools.  Today, I found a Bubbles powerpuff girl pillow that could be re-purposed as a kid’s toy, three kind of cute half-man half-cupcake holders, a dancing chicken dressed as a Christmas tree that would be a unique decoration, and a creepy or cute sitting woman.

gag gifts_useless

Then their are completely useless gag gifts.  This category is definitely where my preference lies. I want the reaction from my gift to be something like “Uh… what? Where did you even find this? And why?”  (To which I answer, “Yes. Goodwill. Because it’s awesome.”)

There were some great finds at Benson Park this trip.  First up, a really creepy and sad seal statue.  This seal could haunt your dreams – perfect.  Next, a “Groovy Friends” door hanger.  These two groovy chicks are just hanging out, playing on their cell phones – awesome.  Third, a white toy cowboy hat – necessary. And last, my favorite, a copy of the riveting novel “Camcorder Basics” for those of us stuck in the 90s.

The best part about all of these gifts is the price – everything on this list was less than $3, which is well under my family’s $5 limit.  And when you shop at Goodwill, you help people in our community find meaningful employment.  People like Michael, who you can read about here.

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