Second Hand Stores: 10 Ways to Make Hand Me Downs More Acceptable

saturdays childLots of families are looking for more ways to save and earn money these days and one of the mainstays of saving money is the tradition of hand me down clothes (passing clothes from an older child to a younger childor clothes from other relatives, friends, and neighbors). The concept is so popular it has become a complete industry with second hand clothing and consignment shops popping up in strip malls and retail centers across the U.S.  The concept just flat out makes a ton of sense.  Why not take a look to see if you can pick up some great clothes that were only worn a few times for a fraction of the price of new clothes?  Whether you have some old clothes you or your family no longer need, or you are looking for some here are ten ways to make hand me downs more acceptable:

1. Make sure they are cleaned and pressed – Presentation is everything. Used clothing doesn’t necessarily need to look used, especially when it is kept in good shape. A good washing and ironing may be all a piece of clothing needs to look almost new.

2. Clean smelling clothes make a difference – Sometimes hand me downs are in tip-top shape, but they’ve been stored for a while and can smell musty or old. Sprucing up the clothing so everything smells nice and fresh can make a huge difference for the recipient  (fortunately there are tons of products that make this super easy nowadays).

3. Make necessary repairs before giving – Have you ever received something from someone who said, “All this needs is a new zipper,” or some other small repair? Some people may feel like they are being considered a charity case when they are given hand me downs that “just need a little fixing!” If you are handing something down, see that it is in good repair before offering it to the recipient.

4. It’s vintage! – Fortunately, vintage is in. This by itself makes some hand me downs more than acceptable, especially for the younger crowd. Young people are raiding attics and basements everywhere trying to find old clothes that are “vintage”. Now is the time to take advantage of this trend.

5. Stress sentimental value – Sometimes a hand me down will be acceptable and take on special meaning if it has some kind of sentimental value. If you know there is a possibility of this, then capitalize on it.

6. Make alterations – Occasionally an alteration or two is all that is needed to make the item a perfect fit. When a garment looks good and fits well, the fact that it is a hand me down won’t even figure into the equation.

7. Add embellishments – Every now and then, a garment could use a little sprucing up by adding a little lace or changing out the buttons. The right kind of embellishments can make something old seem new again.

8. High end items – When you have designer fashions to hand down, you will probably meet with little resistance, as long as the items are still in fashion and appropriate for their next owner.

9. One-of-a-kind items – Some unique items are especially treasured. Hand crafted items that are in good condition can make wonderful hand me downs when given to someone who appreciates the work that went into making the garment.

10. Altered clothing – Some very creative souls will take hand me downs and completely change them so that they become a brand new piece of clothing. There are several books and magazines out now that show how to make altered garments. Many of these projects turn out to be wearable works of art.

Hand me downs don’t have to be the pile of cast offs that many people think of when they hear that term. It doesn’t take much effort to make a good used item look appealing, or at the very least, acceptable. In fact, with a little creativity and imagination, some hand me down clothing can really add to your wardrobe.  So don’t just throw out those old clothes, prep them and then make a trip to your local second hand store.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Portland, Oregon

While the City of Roses might be known as a haven for hipsters, there’s also a surprising number of attractions that will appeal to kids and young families. If you’re planning a family vacation and have an interest in visiting the Pacific Northwest, here are ten of the reasons why you might want to consider Portland a potential destination.

  1. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (Portland, OR 97214) – The USS Blueback, Kendall Planetarium and OMNIMAX Theater are among just a few of the many attractions at Portland’s Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which offers programs and exhibits for kids of all ages. The paleo, weather and watershed exhibits are not to be missed, nor are the physics, chemistry and laser labs inside the Turbine Hall.
  2. Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport, OR 97365) – Indoor and outdoor exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are home to more than 500 species, including the Oddwater exhibit, which showcases some of the more bizarre creatures that call the ocean home. The sea lions, seals and otters are perennial favorites, as is the seabird aviary.
  3. Laurelhurst Park (Portland, OR 97214) – For those moments on your vacation when your brood simply needs a bit of unstructured, outdoor play, Laurelhurst Park is one of the best choices in the city. In addition to the playground, soccer field and volleyball court, there’s also a disabled access play area and restroom on premises.
  4. Discovery Museum (Portland, OR 97221) – Boasting 20,000 square feet, the Discovery Museum is filled with plenty of interactive installations and hands-on activities designed to keep kids and adults engaged and entertained as they learn about sustainability and conservation of trees, both on a local and global scale.
  5. PLAY Boutique (Lake Oswego, OR 97034) – With more than 5,000 square feet of indoor play space, PLAY Boutique is an enriching and exciting opportunity for kids to engage in a variety of activities that encourage a sense of community and emphasize the importance of creative play. Parents can decompress in the parent lounge, or participate alongside their kids.
  6. Oregon Zoo (Portland, OR 97221) – Petting pygmy goats, feeding lorikeets and touring the insect zoo are only a small sampling of the activities available to your kids at the Oregon Zoo, but the real jewel is the African rainforest, which features a realistic thunderstorm every half hour. Don’t miss the elephant museum, or big cat and primate habitats.
  7. Tillamook Air Museum (Tallamook, OR 97141) – If there’s a flight-crazy kid in your family, you can’t skip the Tillamook Air Museum in nearby Tillamook, Oregon. Home to one of the nation’s best collections of War Birds, the exhibit all also features a collection of related aviation and wartime artifacts, and a jet simulator.
  8. Historic Belmont Firehouse (Portland, OR 97214) – There’s something about firefighters that excite even the most laid-back children, which is why the Historic Belmont Firehouse is sure to please. In addition to a collection of antique artifacts, fire alarms and an Amokeag Steam Pumper from 1879, the Belmont also offers programs on fire safety and education for youngsters.
  9. Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR 97209) – Budding visual artists and arts and crafts lovers will get a big kick out of touring the Museum of Contemporary Craft, which showcases the development of various crafts along the West Coast from the present back to the mid-twentieth century.
  10. Pittock Mansion (Portland, OR 97210) – While kids may not be overly enthusiastic about the idea of exploring the history of a family that contributed significantly to the city of Portland in the early twentieth century, they will be wowed by the eccentric architecture and lavish interiors of the Pittock Mansion. Picnicking in the outdoor gardens is also permitted, which offer stunning views of the city.

Known as a progressive, forward-thinking and eco-conscious city, Portland is a great choice for families that appreciate the outdoors and a culture of open-mindedness. While Portland is the largest city between San Francisco and Seattle, the vibe is much more relaxed and laid-back than other cities of comparable size. If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of living in a city with a more frenetic pace, Portland may fit the bill perfectly.

10 Things to Do With Kids in New York

The Big Apple is such a sprawling metropolis that there seems to be something to suit almost any individual whim or interest. Visiting New York with your children presents the opportunity for your entire family to make memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime, which can make it an ideal vacation destination. Though the reasons to travel to New York City are as varied as the local culture, here are ten of the things that make New York a great place to vacation with your little ones.

  1. Books of Wonder (New York, New York 10011) – Specializing in children’s books, both new releases and rare, out of print specialty items, Books of Wonder is paradise for young book worms. Be prepared to spend the better part of an afternoon wandering the stacks and watching little ones’ eye light up, and keep an eye out for special events and appearances hosted by the store.
  2. Wollman Rink (New York, NY 10021) – If you’re visiting the Big Apple during the colder months, a trip to Wollman Rink is a must. The iconic image of ice skating in Central Park is one that both you and your children will carry for the rest of your lives, even if you’re less than skilled skaters.
  3. Chelsea Piers Toddler Adventure Center (New York, NY 10011) – For active play in cooler temperatures, the Chelsea Piers Toddler Adventure Center is an ideal stop when you have little ones in tow. Featuring kid-favorites like a ball pit, trampoline, miniature rock-climbing wall and an obstacle course, this spot is great for burning excess energy.
  4. The Swedish Cottage (New York, NY 10001) – The rich history of the Swedish Cottage, which was constructed in Sweden in 1875 and moved to Central Park two years later, includes housing the Civil Defense headquarters during World War II and an entomological laboratory. Since 1947, however, the Swedish Cottage has been the home of a renowned marionette theater, beloved by children for decades.
  5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY 10128) – Programs at the world-renowned Solomon R. Guggenheim museum include those directed at young children, tweens and teens. Events change periodically, so be sure to keep an eye on the schedule in the weeks leading up to your trip.
  6. Wild West Playground (New York, NY 10001) – The wooden play structures of this famed playground within Central Park are reminiscent of a Wild West-era frontier town, incorporating traditional structures alongside sprinklers and an amphitheater setting that allows you to keep a close eye on your kids as they explore their own corner of the Park.
  7. Alice’s Tea Cup (New York, NY 10023) – The little princesses in your family entourage are sure to be delighted by Alice’s Tea Cup, a tea room with healthy fare, boutique teas and an air of fantasy that lends itself perfectly to daydreaming and make-believe.
  8. Lower East Side Tenement Museum (New York, NY 10002) – A guided tour through this living history museum allows kids to understand a bit more about the immigrant culture of the United States throughout the years, including costumed actors and a walk through a garment workshop.
  9. American Girl Place (New York, NY 10017) – Nestled in the heart of Manhattan is a little girls’ wonderland, filled with the American Girls books, the dolls inspired by them and a host of related activities. From buying outfits to match those of their favorite doll and enjoying a meal in the dining area, there’s no shortage of delight to be found here. Be sure, however, that you make reservations, as seating in the dining room and theater tend to fill quickly.
  10. Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Brooklyn, NY 11225) – Fifty-two acres of rolling hills, ponds and thousands of plants create a natural oasis in the middle of one of the world’s most bustling cities. While kids may not be overly impressed with more than a thousand varieties of roses, they’re sure to be enchanted with the Japanese gardens and the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum.

From the legendary shows of Broadway to the staggering sights of Times Square, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring landmarks and attractions in New York City. While your surroundings in the Big Apple can be quite dazzling, it’s wise to keep in mind that seeing everything on your list may not be possible. Rather than packing your itinerary too tightly, try to choose the most important attractions and take all the time you need to enjoy them.