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Friday, December 18, 2009

My Recycled Christmas

My beautiful family, all 11 of us.

Growing up, Christmas wasn’t homemade – it was recycled. I’ve never been crafty, but I can always find just what I’m looking for at a thrift store.

Thrift store shopping started for me at a really young age. Growing up, my family was middle-upper class and my dad made a great living. We took trips to Disneyland, always had nice cars and a big house with a pool. When I was 11 years old, my dad lost everything in a real estate scam, leaving us one step away from poverty.

My dad went years struggling to make ends meet with odd jobs like delivering pizzas, door-to-door sales and network marketing. He is the hardest worker I know. I remember he cried when we moved out of state and had to leave our Collie dog, Lassie behind. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. From this point on, everything changed – I changed.

I started earning money babysitting, walking people’s dogs, cleaning houses and house-sitting when people were on vacation. Being poor, having a family I loved so dearly and earning my own money was key to learning essential bargain-shopping skills.

I’m the second oldest of nine children and did most the shopping for my younger siblings. My mom would have a baby and I’d find baby clothes at yard sales. My little sister needed a Halloween costume and I found a Cinderella dress at Child Crisis Thrift store. When I was 16 years old, I was shopping at a thrift store. I found a large box full of containers with protein powder, advertising it would help with weight loss. I paid the $6.00 and my whole junior year of high school drank that nasty protein powder every day for breakfast. It tasted like cement and was most likely out-dated, but I wanted to be thin (I don’t recommend buying protein powder from a thrift store). I never did reach my desired weight loss, but it wasn't for lack of trying, I'll tell you that.

For Christmas, my mom and I shopped Salvation Army, bringing home decorations for the Christmas tree. We were just giddy. Every cute little thing we found made us so happy and it made our family happy.

So what am I giving away this year for Christmas? I’ve found 90% of my gifts the same way I always have (and I give great gifts). My brother Matt is getting an Escada tie I found at a Cancer Society thrift store in Sedona. My mom is getting a Coldwater Creek skirt from the same store. Baby Sage is getting a denim Guess dress and Sam will receive a Nike sweatshirt and tennis shirt, both with new tags still attached. My dad loves books on World War II and I’ve got a great little collection set aside just for him. The counselor has moved up to XXL in shirt size, and I have an XXL pile of shirts I need to wrap and put under the Christmas tree.

As an extra bonus, I love giving my money to Goodwill or Valley Big Brothers & Big Sisters. This time of year, I know they really need it.

Go out and see what you can recycle for Christmas gifts this year. I’d love to hear your stories and I’ll post some on the blog. Merry Christmas to all my sweet friends.


  1. Oh sweet La-La. You are the QUEEN of GREEN. One of my favorite things about your thrift is how generous you are with it. You buy your thrift in bulk for others & it is always very much appreciated & fun to see what you scavenge for everyone. Can't wait to see that denim dress.

    You are a peach.

  2. You are such an inspiration. Love your site!