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At some point we will stop talking about 2011 (it was such a great year!!) and start looking forward to what we have coming up in 2012, until then, read on about how I was able to do the majority of my Christmas shopping using estate sales and antique store finds…

I had to buy 17 Christmas presents for family this year. We have a big family (it takes approximately 7 hours to open presents!) and my goal this year was to get as many as I could from estate sales or antique stores, and stay within a $300 budget (less than $20 per person). I am happy to report that I was able to get 11 of these presents from an estate sale which gave me the budget to buy new for the remaining 6 people! — plus 2 gifts for myself. :)

How’d I do it, you ask?

My first gift (and the only one I bought before the semester ended) was a gorgeous navy and gold silk scarf for my Nana. Lainey and I were shopping one Saturday and went to this one sale that had a huge collection of scarves – the hard part was deciding which one to get!

My brother and dad are the outdoorsy types, and I was able to find vintage lures and a fly fishing reel from the 1920’s. For my dad, I got a piece of old barn wood from the back yard and hung each lure from a nail. My aunt also found a good use from some vintage lures and a bobber and made a business card holder for my brother to go with his reel.

At another estate sale, I found a 1950s Mr. Boston’s Bartending Guide that I gave my brother (along with the reel). It is interesting to see what drinks were popular back then and compare them to today’s preferred cocktails (like, we weren’t able to find a recipe for “Sex on the Beach”). I also found a TX license plate from 1981 (not quite vintage yet) that says “IM A TXN”. My brother currently lives in Boston, so we thought his roommates would get a kick out it (for them Texas is like a different country).

One of my other brothers is about to start medical school (I have 3 in case you were wondering), so I was really excited to find some medical related things that I thought he would enjoy. I found an small, old microscope at an antique store and a deck of playing cards that have medical related cartoons drawn on them.

I found my mom a Hattie Carnegie bracelet and earrings set (this was a little more expensive than the others). The earrings are clip-on so I suggested that my mom just string one on a gold chain for a necklace. Hattie Carnegie was a fashion entrepreneur in New York from the 1920s to 1960s (you can find more information about her here). I told my mom if she ever decides she doesn’t want these pieces as part of her jewelry collection, I get first dibs!

My brother’s girlfriend has beautiful dark brown hair and a very rosy complexion so when I came across this mother of pearl necklace, I knew it was perfect for her! This was one of my favorite gifts that I gave – and she never took it off that day (so I know it was a success!)!

The real key to my success this year was finding a bunch of vintage bottles at an antique store. I got my mom, 3 aunts, grandmother, and cousin different types of glass and crystal bottles, which I filled with reed diffuser refills. I put together unique home fragrance gift for each person. If you look closely at the brown bottle you may notice it is an old Lysol bottle – this one was one of my favorites.

As a reward for such unique and clever shopping, I kept a really fun beaded clutch that became the centerpiece of my New Year’s Eve outfit. I also found a really pretty crystal pitcher that is showing it’s age by turning a little purple (which just makes it prettier in my book). According to the Red Hen, old glass turns purple because of it’s exposure to UV light. Pretty pressed glass was often put in windows to catch and reflect light, and its time in the sun slowly turned the glass a shade of lilac!

The best part of all of this was showing my family how awesome and cool estate sales can be. Buying vintage and from estate sales made those gifts seem a little bit more special for me and the recipient. I have a lot of people who want to go with The Attic Birds this year as we scour TX and OK looking for awesome deals and cool stories.

Next year, I am hoping to find stuff for those that I couldn’t this year – like interesting things for my grandfather, teenage brother, and younger cousins.

Did I mention I got all of my finds in one day (minus the scarf)?! It was a HUGE day of estate sale-ing! Santa only wishes he could be this efficient :)

~Emily