Birthday Shopping in My Attic and a Non-Consumer Birthday Cake

For some reason, one of the hardest thing for me to reconcile with our bonus baby is what to do with the toys from the first batch. When children are born a couple years apart toys are naturally passed down, but with a 14 year gap between my second and third child, the toys had already been packed away in the attic for our future grandchildren.

I struggled with whether I should start from scratch and buy Rew all new toys. That seemed unnecessarily expensive, plus the toys in the attic were actually made in America and Europe. Should I bring all the toys down? That seemed like it would be overwhelming, as well as increase the likelihood of spoiling Rew. So I sat down with my older kids and we came up with a plan: Whenever a gift-giving occasion occurred, they would “shop” in the attic for a present for their younger brother.

Andrew's 3rd bday 2010 036 Andrew is quite happy playing with a regifted train he received for his birthday!

Non-Consumer Birthday Cake
I wanted to make an airplane cake for Andrew’s birthday, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I asked my older kids for ideas and we were leaning towards making the top of the cake look like the deck of an aircraft carrier and putting toy airplanes on top. However, when I took my oldest son “shopping” in the attic, he found an airplane and control tower that went with the Thomas items he had picked out for Rew and suggested I use them to decorate the cake. We washed them off and used them to make this birthday cake:

Andrew's 3rd bday 2010 005 What I like most about this cake, is that everyone was involved in creating it, including my husband who marked the runway for me. Later that evening I told my oldest son, that I didn’t remember buying that plane set for him and he said that I bought it for him at a thrift shop in Virginia. So we reused a reused toy to decorate the cake!

Have you ever regifted or given a used item for a gift? I have to admit that I was a little uncomfortable with the idea at first. However, when I was looking on the web for some items for Rew’s Easter basket, I saw his favorite stuffed animal, which is a hand-me-down from his big sister for sale for $89.00 on Apparently, at some point items stop being old hand-me-downs and start becoming valuable vintage items!

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday, because regifting is working for our family. Even more so, since we decided to join The Compact and not buy anything new for a year.

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About Alea Milham

Alea Milham is the owner and editor of Premeditated Leftovers. She shares her tips for saving money and time while reducing waste in her home. Her favorite hobby, gardening, is a frugal source of organic produce for her recipes. She believes it is possible to live fully and eat well while spending less.


  1. The Saved Quarter says:

    Yes, I've given my kids used gifts! My son's favorite Christmas present last year was a kid's camera, bought for $1 at Goodwill. He loves taking his own pictures, and I love that I didn't spend $50 for new packaging.

    It's the thought that counts, and a used gift can be just as thoughtful as a new one. In the case of the camera, it was more thoughtful than new – buying one thing he loves at $1 meant that I could buy other things to add to the gift, whereas had I bought the same thing retail for $50, I wouldn't have had the money for anything else.

  2. I always worry a little about giving used gifts as presents, but most of the people that I give gifts to appreciate the sentiment and that I'd go out of my way to FIND those items for them. I think it takes a lot more effort and thought into finding a suitable secondhand gift that you KNOW will be useful and appreciated by someone than it is to go to Walmart and just buy whatever!

  3. The Prudent Homemaker says:

    A friend of mine just gave me several used dresses for my new baby. These are smocked dresses, and they retail new for about$45-$80 each. She spent about $5 on each one, and they look brand-new! I don't mind at ALL! I've bought used dresses like these on ebay before, and I spent a lot more on them!

  4. Excellent solution to avoid spoiling Rew by "shopping in the attic" — AND it keeps with your Compact Pledge! I soooo miss the days of clothes shopping in my crawl space — three nieces older than my daughter provided an abundance of clothes for many years!

  5. I think regifting of truly special items is a fabulous thing! My son has received as gifts several toys that I, his dad, or my brother saved from our childhoods. You should have seen his face on the Christmas morning he found a 1970s Fisher-Price castle under the tree! He loves these things, and they're often better than the newer versions.

  6. Yes, I do regift. I also buy second hand items to use as gifts if I see something I know will be loved by the recipient. I figure it’s more about honouring the person than spending a bunch of money. I know that I’m always happy that someone has thought of me and that the gesture always means more than the gift.

  7. Love this idea (and the cake, too!) Jack has all of Daniel’s Matchbox and Hot Wheels from when he was a kid. He loves them just as much as his newer cars. Daniel’s a packrat, just another reason I’m glad we had a boy. :)

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