Tried and True Gifts Under $100

I love making gift guides because it’s basically an excuse to online “window shop,” but there’s something to be said for sharing products that I already have and love, too. Sometimes things look great online and then they arrive and are just eh, and when you’re giving gifts to others, you don’t want to worry about whether the recipient will want to return the item because you’re ordering from a new or obscure site and the quality may be iffy.

I’ve rounded up some products (some of which are little bit off the beaten path) that have made an appearance in my home tours for a good reason, and I can vouch that your loved ones will enjoy them as well. And the best part is…they’re all under $100 (except for one item which is definitely a splurge)! Oh, and speaking of home tours, I’m thrilled to share that I got some photos of our new place taken on Sunday, and I already received a few edited ones back and they’re looking great! I’m still waiting to see how the upstairs shots turned out, but the downstairs pictures are here and will give you a glimpse into a space I haven’t really shown or talked about much on here!

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Gold tray: This is an option for the perpetual hostess/glamour girl. I’ve talked about this tray in a previous post because it’s affordable, great quality, and everyone has it and styles it nicely. Whether you use it on a bar cart, a countertop, a dresser, or a vanity, it’s the perfect addition to any space and is pretty roomy. I’ve used it in three different apartments and it’s held up super well!

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Mackenzie Childs tray (c/o): Amara Living invited me to pick out a few products for my home and I happily obliged! I’d been wanting a Mackenzie Childs piece for awhile after having seen the unique pattern on many other blogs, and I got this one right in time for my shoot. It really popped on our marble coffee table and made the perfect display for some snacks. I know I’ll be using it again for entertaining!

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Press for Champagne ornament: Last year’s hit is back! I did notice that it’s no longer available for Christmas delivery, but you could always gift the recipient a bottle of champagne with a little note that the ornament is arriving later (maybe in time for New Years?!). Regardless, order it quickly because this did go out of stock for awhile last winter! I love mine and it’s a much cheaper alternative to Lisa’s larger design.

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Vintage Barbie and Ken print: Guys, this website makes me laugh every time I visit it. The prints are so witty (perfect for the quirky girl in your life) and also super affordable (the size shown above is only $30). My print is now hanging in my bathroom and adds the perfect pop of color and whimsy to what’s (obviously) a pretty plain space. Give it framed or unframed; I guarantee you’ll find a design that your recipient will love! Also, can you imagine if your job was staging these? So. many. ideas!

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Woven tray: There’s are all the rage (does anyone still say that?) right now and it can be hard to find affordable options, but Macy’s of all places has a great one! I actually came across this tray while stalking a favorite blogger Instagram account of mine and went to pick it up from the store later that day. Super easy! While you’re at it, you may as well grab these placemats. Love!

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CatStudio pillow: This is my splurge item, but I had to include it because it’s such a hit. CatStudio makes tons of different pillows (and tea towels, cups, etc) that correspond to tons of cities and states and really add a pop of color to a room. They’re definitely on the “busier” side, but they work well as an accent piece and are truly special gifts (each pillow is hand-embroidered and takes up to one week to complete!). I’ve received a ton of compliments on mine (which I purchased through a giveaway I won last spring) and I love how it looks in our living room nook area.

Photos 1, 3, and 4 by Hado Photo; photos 2, 5, and 6 by For Better Days Photography (forbetterdays4@gmail.com). 

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20 Gifts for Her with Free Shipping

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If you’re anything like me, you love knocking out your holiday shopping online but hate paying for shipping (and may end up buying extra items to reach a certain threshold, which doesn’t always end up being so great in the long run!). In order to simplify things and take out the frustration of paying an extra 5 to 10 dollars on shipping costs (because it certainly adds up, especially this time of year), I’ve rounded up 20 gifts for her that ALL come with free shipping (and are also pretty cute). Note: a lot of the PB Teen products have gone on sale since I picked them out last week (woo!) and Target is offering free shipping on any order through December 23 (they usually require a minimum purchase). Happy shopping!

Cocktail shaker/chocolates: Sugarfina is always a great choice for anyone on your list. I’ve given my dad some of their chocolates in the past and have also purchased many things for myself! I love that you can keep and use the cocktail shaker when the candy is all gone.

Diptyque candle: These are definitely pricy but smell amazing and will look super stylish in any room of the house. I always keep the candle jars after they’re empty and use them to storage makeup brushes or lipsticks/glosses on my vanity.

Leopard scarf: Anyone who knows me knows my love of animal print (but specifically leopard) and this adorable scarf is less than $20!

Planner: Help them get a jump start on 2018 with a colorful planner. This one is by Rifle Paper which never disappoints! If they swear by digital notes and to do lists, they could likely still use a fun calendar to spruce up their office space–this one is a pretty pick.

Pineapple shot glasses: These would be a great gift idea for someone who recently got (or will be receiving) a bar cart, because they’re just too adorable to keep hidden!

Moccasins: LLBean is known for these amazing slippers…I had a pair in college that I’ve since had to retire, but they were the best. I generally only wore them inside to keep them extra clean and fluffy, but I definitely saw people wearing them to the dining hall or library (#Maineproblems).

Journal: You can never have too many journals…at least I feel that way! This one would make a fun stocking stuffer.

Face masks: Does anyone ever get tired of these? (Nope, never!). Give the whole set or split it up and tie one to the outside of a wrapped gift or bag.

Storage bin: How cute are these pom poms?! It’s ships free with Amazon Prime membership and would be perfect in a dorm, closet, playroom, or nursery.

Lunchbox: This lunchbox (which can be monogrammed!) may change her mind about buying lunch out (those stripes!).

Rx Bars: My mom always gives my sister and me lots of practical gifts like this in our stockings…Luna bars, lotions, etc! Honestly Rx bars are kind of pricy and disappear quickly (I eat bars for breakfast all the time during the week!), so I’m sure a fellow fanatic wouldn’t mind receiving more.

Alarm clock: This is stylish and super functional…I definitely rely too much on my cell phone and probably should invest in an “old fashioned” alarm as a back up. I love the look of this one!

Bath bombs: I don’t have a bath in my new apartment, but I used to love getting these and they’re definitely a crowd pleaser in my opinion!

Throw pillow: Perfect for someone moving into a new place or living somewhere that’s less than cozy and in need of a fun touch or two!

Pullover: This looks like a Patagonia piece at a fraction of the cost…LLBean does it again!

Beach towel: Her winter getaway will be even more exciting and stylish.

Travel bag: This bag would work for weekend trips or as a carry on. Give it to the girl who’s studying abroad next semester (I could’ve really used something like this for 2-3 day trips!).

Mittens: Mittens always seem to get lost and worn out easily, so while investing in expensive ones isn’t always ideal, a pair that’s affordable and fun is always a practical gift.

Snacks: Give these to your coworker who is always craving chocolate at 2 pm (that would be me). Or send a sibling back to college with some non-dining hall snacks. These are delicious!

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Recreating a “One Room Challenge” Look

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Are you familiar with the One Room Challenge? It’s a “contest” where designers have six weeks to completely transform a room in their (or someone else’s) home and will chronicle progress each week to show what they’ve accomplished, what’s left to be done, and their vision for the new space.

I absolutely love how Michelle Gage’s room (which actually belongs to a friend of hers!) turned out. The picture above is my favorite shot…it’s boho without being overly so, looks incredibly cozy and girly, and has fun decor and accent pieces without looking junky, cheap, or cluttered. Doesn’t it look like it would be something that just belongs on Pinterest and isn’t actually real life?

Since I probably can’t have Michelle come down to DC and make me a similar-looking space, I took to the internet to find a few items that one could purchase to try to recreate this look.

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Rattan chair: This Anthro chair is actually a great deal at under $100! While it doesn’t have the unique detailing of the one in the picture, it’s still a pretty, affordable piece.

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Boho pillow: This Etsy option would look great on the Rattan chair and would make it a little cozier.

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Sunburst mirror: I actually own this mirror and have it over my bed–I’ve had it for a few years and love it! Plus, it’s insanely affordable (and on sale!).

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Rug: I reallllly want a Turkish/oriental rug and haven’t been able to find the right one for the right price. This one kind of reminds me of the option in the room but is teeny tiny (could work in a corner or beside the bed).

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Pouf: This pouf comes stuffed and ships super fast. It’s a steal given that stuffed poufs often retail for twice as much!

And while I’m swooning over Michelle’s work, here are a few more pictures of the room:

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FRIDAY FEELS, #16

What a whirlwind of a week. I’ve had a lot on my plate lately and am really, really excited for a calm-ish weekend in DC. I have a dentist appointment on Saturday (yuck), so I’m planning on spending Friday night at my parents’ house and catching up with them (they’ve been an amazing support system these past few weeks, and I’m very thankful for their guidance) and then hopefully going out and doing something fun in the city on Saturday night. I spent last weekend in West Virginia attending a Friendsgiving and freezing (ok, it was cold here, too!) and had a blast getting away for a bit, but it was such a short trip (about 36 hours including my 5-hour bus ride each way), which is always sad! Anyway, onto the post…

Bookmarked: Reese Witherspoon’s book recs! I’ve read some of her picks and will file the rest away for whenever I need some new titles. Check it out! Speaking of which, have you entered my giveaway on Instagram? Don’t miss the chance to win six great books!

DC to-do list: I’d love to check out a cidery over Thanksgiving weekend and have heard of a few different ones in the area but wouldn’t mind receiving some recs…let me know if you have a fave spot.

Pinning: The little bar cart shown above! I recently purchased a gold, bamboo-style cart at Miss Pixie’s for a great price and have been having fun moving around various accessories and making it look pretty.

Tackling: I’m excited because this weekend I’m having someone come and do a mini apartment shoot! We’ll just be focusing on my room and maybe the bar cart and some details downstairs, but it’s a start! I’ve been wanting some quality photos to file away for the blog, so I’m looking forward to getting this done. Plus, a shoot = a great excuse to snag some fresh flowers. 😉

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My Coat Drive Challenge for the Holidays

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The other day, I was reading a blog post and saw the cutest Nordstrom coat for sale. It was neutral-colored, stylish, would be cute for work and play, and was under $40. Nah, I still don’t need it, I thought. I have enough coats already.

I have enough coats already. I probably have NINE coats that work perfectly for winter and fall alike. Why? Because I like buying them when they’re on sale, and I like having options depending on the weather or my outfit or how I’m feeling that day. But who needs that many coats? Absolutely no one. No one.

Even as I’m writing this, emails are flooding my inbox alerting me of sales. It’s tempting to say, “Oh, this is a great deal; I’ll snag it,” when really, we just don’t need more. This time of year especially, it’s easy to get caught up in shopping and gift guides (guilty!) prompting us to buy, buy, buy. Even when we know that others are in need within our own community, it can be hard to know the best way to help or even where to go or what to bring.

However, there are plenty of people right here in DC and the surrounding areas who need a winter coat–just one. If I’m going to post gift guides, I also want to post something to do good. Something that may seem so small will really make a difference in keeping someone warm this winter.

So here’s where you come in: I’m challenging my DC blogger and reader community to join me in taking one coat (or more!) out of their (or their significant other’s/child’s) closet to donate to someone in need. Obviously, items should be in new/gently used condition—no holes or snags! I’m working with Martha’s Table (they have two locations in DC, one of which is on 14th Street) to gather coats for their discount store, Martha’s Outfitters, which provides low-cost clothing and home goods to people in the DC area. I’ve been familiar with Martha’s Table since my elementary school days, but you can read more about it here if you don’t know of the organization (it’s great!). The store is open from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, and you can drop off your donations there during that time frame. If you’re interested in dropping off a coat before or after work, Martha’s Table’s offices are a few doors down (click here for address information), and they can accept donations beginning at 7:30 am and until 6:00 pm.

All sizes and styles are needed, so take a look around your house (or your parents’/relatives’/friends’ houses!) for items you’ve outgrown, forgot to return to the store, or just don’t wear anymore.

When you bring in your donation, don’t forget to ask for a receipt if you’d like one for tax purposes. I’d also love to hear from you if you end up going–it would mean a lot! Send me a DM on Instagram or shoot me an email. 🙂

Questions? Ideas on how to make this even better? Let me know, and I’ll be in touch!

Thanks, blog friends. I know we can work together to do something great for our community.

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A Few Things to Try, Thanks to Pinterest (Round 3)

Happy Wednesday! I can’t believe Thanksgiving is a little over a week away. Where did November go?! I’m excited to lounge around at home and eat lots of good food (the best part is the leftovers, in my opinion. Turkey + cranberry sandwiches + a little bit of stuffing on the side + a pickle? Done deal).

Speaking of food…here’s my first Pinteresty thing to try:

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1) Make your own Chex Mix. Homemade Chex Mix is SO good. My mom would make it a ton when we were growing up, and a friend’s mom recently made pumpkin spice Chex Mix for Halloween and gave me a little bag…omg. It was gone within a few hours! This recipe looks delicious and is one I’ll be pinning and filing away for sure!

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2) Figure out a new weekday breakfast (when you actually have some time off and aren’t rushing around at 7 am!). I’m often really bad at eating at home (too sleepy!) and end up having some type of bar at my desk. If I do have time before I leave, I usually make myself an English muffin with peanut butter, but I’ve been wanting to try whipping up some overnight oats.

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3) Book a weekend trip for this winter. I still need to make it up to NYC again (and I’d love to go up before the holidays are over, because it’s so gorgeous with all of the decorations and lights). However, a cozy getaway to somewhere quiet doesn’t sound bad either…

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4) Start a collection and stick to it. I love how all of these matchbooks look displayed and want to collect my own. Or you could go in a different direction and look for something like vintage barware, which is always fun to find and set out (especially if you’re entertaining in the coming weeks!).

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5) Have a spa day at home (or just take a long bath and sit down and actually read that book you’ve been meaning to start). Honestly, the little things like this can really help during what can be an exciting (but stressful) time of year!

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My Favorite Instagram Accounts for Home Inspo

If you’re anything like me, you love discovering new people to follow on Instagram and then swooning over all of their posts. I’m sharing a few accounts that I’ve discovered within the past few months that never fail to inspire me when it comes to all things decor!

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1) @mckennabegin: McKenna’s Seattle home always looks super cozy and welcoming while still being totally stylish. Living with her significant other, she’s done a good job of making the space gender-neutral without it being boring. I absolutely love her barcart, too!

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2) @tinaheileman: Like McKenna, Tina also knows how to decorate a stylish home for two. Her posts always make me want to curl up and relax with either a coffee or cocktail (she frequently Instagrams both!), and best of all, she’s a fellow DC gal.

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3) @_harlowjames: Chrissy is a new favorite blogger of mine and her posts always give me tons of inspo. I definitely want to replicate everything she shares! I love her California cool aesthetic and the fun finds she shares (I also wish I had her baking skills!).

I’m always looking for new not-to-be-missed Instagram accounts, so send any suggestions my way!

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Gift Guide: The City Girl

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This is the first of four gift guides I’ve put together so far. I’ll try to space them out every few days, so check back for more in the coming weeks. Note: I really enjoy making these, so I hope they’ll be somewhat helpful to people! I’ve really just focused on gifts for women because I personally find moms/sisters/friends the easiest to shop for while male relatives/boyfriends can be a bit more difficult. However, maybe that’s just because I often find gifts for the women in my life while browsing in stores or on websites that I visit on a regular basis, so it doesn’t feel like extra “effort,” so to speak. I was telling a friend recently that I kind of stockpile gifts for her throughout the year (I do the same for my sister) because so many things I come across just call her name. It’s always super nice to feel prepared for that person’s birthday/housewarming party/etc well in advance!

When making these gift guides, I decided to pull items exclusively from four of my favorite stores: Waiting on Martha, Lulu and Georgia, Nordstrom, and TJ Maxx.com. I made myself stick with one item from each for each of my four gift guides, which was a good exercise in self control 😉 (but actually, I could browse those sites for hours).

Ok, enough rambling! Here’s what I picked for category one, “the city girl”:

1) Cocktail kit (Waiting on Martha)

2) Travel mug (Lulu and Georgia)

3) Fake plant (TJ Maxx)

4) City book (Nordstrom)

Not feeling any of the above? Here are a few other (more creative) items I’d recommend for the city girl in your life:

-An Uber gift card. If you’re anything like me (ok, actually I don’t think ANYONE takes Ubers as frequently as I do, because I often rely on them for my commute!), you’ll get a TON of use out of these. Uber is basically everywhere now, but living in a big city, it can be so nice to just call an Uber at the end of the day instead of hopping on the metro for an hour. I’d honestly rather get a gift card for an Uber than for something else “unnecessary,” like a manicure.

-A theater/concert ticket. I’m still just a littttleee bitter about the fact that my family didn’t get our act together early enough to go see Mean Girls the musical (it’s in DC!), but cities offer so many shows that play/musical/concert tickets are never a bad idea! Book of Mormon has also been in town, and summer brings tons of the country concerts!

-A cute reusable tote filled with “city essentials.” In DC and Maryland, plastic bags are 5 cents a piece due to tax regulations, so I try to keep a reusable bag with me at all times because why spend money on that (not to mention it’s a much greener solution). Pick up a fun tote (I own and love this one because it folds up and you barely notice it’s in your purse) and fill it with a little umbrella for emergencies, Rx or Luna bars, hand sanitizer, and the like. Germ-free commutes and a solution in case she gets super hangry? Check!

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Bedroom Nook Update + Where I Scored My Decor

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I wanted to share a little update on my most frequently-Instagrammed space in the new apartment…the little nook outside of my bedroom (excuse the iPhone photography!).

When I decided to live in the lofted room, I had a vague idea about how I wanted to set up this space, but I really found that seeing it in person on move-in day solidified how I wanted to arrange everything (isn’t it funny how you think you remember a space perfectly in your head, and then upon seeing it again you’re like, “Ohhhh.”?). The “living” area, or the space outside my bedroom, was going to house my little cane love seat (an awesome $55 Georgetown Flea purchase!), a desk/vanity I found on Craigslist, and maybe my gold trunk, but I wasn’t sure what would go where. Now, a little over a month after moving in, I think the space is finally complete (well, as complete as it can be for a girl who loves to decorate and rearrange every chance she gets!).

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My desk is on the opposite side of the room (I’ll have to snag a picture another time) and is directly under one of the windows that looks out onto our roof. I still haven’t sat there much yet but am hoping to get more use out of it on the weekends when I catch up on blogging. The cane couch is super comfortable and really pops (orange is so not my normal color of choice, but there was something cool and antique-y about it, so I just couldn’t say no!). Fun fact: I carried it myself about three blocks and then up the stairs into my old apartment. Yet somehow the weights portion of Flywheel still is super challenging… 😉

I couldn’t fully feel at home in the new space without a gallery wall, and I’m loving how this one turned out. It definitely took a few tries to figure out what should go where, but I’m liking the color scheme and mix of pieces right now. I kind of went for a “Parisian”/vintagey vibe.

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Andddd the find of the month…these adorable cane chairs (also orange!). I spotted them at my church bazaar over the weekend for $6 a piece (and got a lot of Instagram DMs about them!) and obviously had to bring them home! The other two are at my parents’ house (aka my furniture storage facility, whoops) for the moment, but I was able to fit two up here. They’re not only a similar shade to the couch but happen to be pretty comfortable. I used to think cane was kind of weird and old-person-looking, but the style has grown on me a ton within recent months–it’s a classic!

The gold trunk was a pricier Craigslist find but I knew it would look cool someplace in the apartment, so I purchased it right before my move! I like how it looks as a coffee table and it doubles as great storage for extra wall art/decorative accessories/etc. There are little feet that came with it but they may make it too tall for the area, so they’re being stored inside right now.

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I originally had a tall gold lamp (a $35 Amazon find) next to the couch but ended up moving my ginger jar-style piece into the area instead. It’s a little big for the side table but works for now–I think the chinoiserie style goes well with the other items in the nook. Best of all, the lamp was a $30 find at the Georgetown Flea and the brass bamboo-style table was $40! The aloe plant is from Little Leaf and adds some life to the area!

It was my mom’s idea to place the rug up here, and I’m liking the mix of colors it brings. Funnily enough, the rug only cost $50 thanks to a “sample sale” Rugs USA was having online this summer. It actually got lost in the mail for awhile and eventually wound up at my place a few weeks later (thank goodness!). I’m glad it finally did arrive and now has a home up here.

Also I realized that I haven’t really shown my bed area at all, whether on here or on IG stories, so here’s a (bad quality) picture I found of when I first moved in (as in, I didn’t even have pillows on the bed because they were packed somewhere still!). It’s changed a bit but gives you a good sense of the overall area. The two lamps were from Miss Pixie’s but one kind of broke, so I saved the shades and am using them on two other lamps I have in my room (I have a lamp problem and a mirror problem). The oriental-looking rug is actually another $50 find from Rugs USA’s sample sale. My headboard is from Target (I think it’s sort of plain, but I get a lot of questions about it!). The bench at the end of my bed is one my mom purchased for me from Ballard Designs like four years ago, and I love it!

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I’ll be sure to keep doing more apartment posts once I can get some good quality photos (like from a professional, rather than my grainy iPhone pics)! Thanks for following along on IG stories–I’m always happy when you guys approve of my little home updates or offer suggestions!

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Where I Buy Books for Cheap

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After posting this picture on Instagram the other day noting that I’d scored many of the above books for $2 or less, I got a TON of questions about where I score books for cheap, so I thought I’d do a post about it!

While most of these came from my church’s sale over the weekend (and I have another pile on my desk at work thanks to our school book fair–I’ll share those when I eventually carry them home!), there are lots of great ways to buy current titles without spending $$$ for something you’ll likely just read once.

Here are a few of my tips:

1) Sales and thrift stores. Yard sales don’t often have a ton of book options in the scheme of things, but it doesn’t hurt to take a peek. However, thrift stores like Goodwill are a great place to shop for books. I’ve almost never walked out empty-handed, and I own a lot of books already! Most stores have a whole section dedicated to books and most of them are fairly new and in good condition (though you do have to sift through the dated travel guides and textbooks). For $2 or $3, though, it’s worth it to do some exploring.

2) Amazon. I’m not talking about Amazon Prime here–I rarely purchase books that way unless I realllly want to read something ASAP (like if I’m going on a trip or am participating in a book club). Below the Prime option, you’ll also see pricing for used books from other sellers. They can go for as little as 99 cents (plus shipping, which is usually about $3.99)! This is a great option if you don’t want to head out to an actual used bookstore or have a specific title in mind (obviously when you’re at a place like Goodwill, you really never know what you’re going to get). Books usually ship within 1-2 weeks and I’ve never had any issues!

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3) Thriftbooks. I shared this site with a few of you who sent me messages because it’s truly amazing! One of my college friends (who I don’t think would ever set foot in a thrift store–ha!) has also gotten hooked and always sends me Snapchats of the titles she’s ordered. Books are priced starting at around $3.50, and you get free shipping if you spend over $10! If you log in with your account, you’ll accumulate points every time you make a purchase and will eventually receive $5 off after you’ve spent $50. I’ve gotten everything from novels to coffee table books on there for way less than what I’d pay on Amazon. Shipping is fast and reliable, and it’s a great site to know about if you love to read as much as I do!

Still trying to get into the swing of reading? Check out this post. Admittedly, I fell off the bandwagon big time this fall and am trying to make it part of my routine again now that I have so many books to dive into (the colder weather will likely help, too). Happy book shopping!

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