Yard sale shopping for gifts

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Like any kind of gift buying, gift shopping at yard sales is easier and more fun when you have plenty of lead time and know the person you're buying for well. This is particularly true for people who have passions. The friend who loves sailing or cats or cooking, for example, is a joy to have on a yard sale shopper's list.

Here is a smattering of yard sale gift ideas.

1. Make a collection around a theme. Start by look for those wonderful, glossy illustrated books that retail for upward of $30 and can be found easily at yard sales in mint condition for a few dollars.

2. Interesting pots and vases abound. Add the right plant or flowers -- from your houseplants, garden or the local supermarket. African Violets can be lovely in an old lidless sugarbowl.

3. For the new mother -- books on babies and children, a basket that you fill with good-as-new baby toys (dishwasher sterilized), a sterling silver baby spoon that you tie with a satin ribbon, and any of the infinite baby clothes that were never worn (wrong season, wrong size) that wind up at a yard sale for $3 instead of $23.

4. A basket of pastel bunnies or of teddy bears. Last week, I found a yard sale that had more than 100 beanie babies for sale at 50 cents each.

5. Watch for items that are new in box and still have the tags. A young couple were selling some of their unwanted wedding gifts. I found large made in Canada wind chimes and bought them for $10. When I checked the price online, they retailed for $69.

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