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11 Ideas for Unique Vintage Gifts

Updated: Sep 14

Vintage gifts are hotter than ever. Not only do these retro gifts offer a soothing nod to nostalgia, but they are great gifts that have already stood the test of time – and are coming back for more! Whether you are gifting a reminder of childhood to a Gen-Xer, respecting the sustainable preferences of a trendy millennial, or recapturing the good old days with grandparents, vintage gifts are the total package, and they are here to stay.

People love personalized gifts. Great gift ideas come when we are trying to find the perfect gift to make someone happy – not the most expensive one. What is a unique gift that matches their personality or interests? What retro gift would capture their childhood and make them smile? Smiles are the ultimate gift idea goal.

What is a Good Occasion for a Retro Gift?

The correct question is – what isn’t a good occasion for a retro gift? The celebration of birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, graduations, and other milestones all benefit from a unique and nostalgic gift idea found in decades past. Vintage gift ideas show that you care and took your time to bring a little bit of happiness to the present with a memory from the past.

What is Unique About a Vintage Gift?

Vintage gifts have so many stories to tell! They are unique gifts that have been around a while, soaked up experiences, and shared joy with others before bringing happiness to the next. Retro gifts make the best gifts because they let the person we are gifting know that we spent extra time finding the right present.

Shopping for vintage gifts can be an adventure. The best way to find unique gift ideas is with a leisurely stroll through your local antique mall. Take your time exploring the miles of aisles and each attractively presented vendor booth that invites you to come in and stay a while. As you uncover coveted retro finds and memories from your childhood, keep these 11 unique vintage gift ideas in mind.

11 Vintage Gift Ideas

1. Vintage T-shirts

2. Vintage art

3. Vintage trinket trays

4. Vintage jewelry

5. Vintage handbags

6. Vintage glass candlesticks

7. Vintage cameras

8. Retro games

9. Retro shades

10. Vintage lighting

11. Vintage typewriters

1. Vintage T-shirts are incredibly cool.

Not only do vintage T-shirts have a cool factor that is off the charts, they also make a unique statement. Vintage T-shirts have retro designs or logos that are interesting and versatile, making these unique gifts very easy to wear. It’s always fun to build an outfit around a cool shirt with a vintage vibe.

The vintage T-shirt market is really on fire. You can break the bank with a rare vintage rock band T-shirt or keep it casual with a random fun find you know your friend will enjoy. Vintage T-shirts are a no-brainer in unique gift-giving – versatile, durable, and undeniably the most comfortable gift you’ll ever give.

2. Vintage art is the statement piece of any room.

Looking to give a gift that shows someone special how well you know them? Vintage art is a unique gift idea that makes a statement. Vintage artwork is commercial artwork that was produced from the 19th through the mid-20th centuries; it’s commonly seen in the form of postcards, posters, and magazine covers.

Full of color and cultural context, vintage art features a variety of subjects, from murals and furniture to propaganda posters and the Gibson Girl, once known as the ideal of feminine beauty. While original vintage art can be expensive, these works of commercial art were often reproduced and are available at a fraction of the cost. Let classic works of vintage art inspire gift ideas for all of your friends and family!

3. Give the gift of casual elegance and organization with vintage trinket trays.

Vintage trinket trays are a fashionable way to organize small objects like bracelets and rings. These unique gifts can be used in a variety of ways, including keeping paper clips corralled on your desktop or dishing up treats like candy or mints. Vintage trinket tray designs run from adorable to whimsical, with plenty of floral and color choices along the way.

Other Uses for Vintage Trinket Trays

  • Soap holder

  • Small plant saucer

  • Key holder

  • Loose change

A vintage trinket tray makes a clever catch-all for any counter or entryway table. You can gift a nostalgic design that is sure to bring a smile every day. This retro gift will continue to be used for years to come with a fond reminder of the gift-giver.

4. Vintage jewelry makes an ideal retro gift.

Not only is vintage jewelry an excellent value, but its quality is also often better. Made from 25 to 100 years ago, during a time when mass production wasn’t a thing, vintage jewelry designs are unique and still feel like a great treasure. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind vintage gift idea, vintage jewelry is the answer.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the vintage jewelry you are considering for purchase. Any vendor at your local antique mall will be happy to pull up a chair and educate you on the finer points of these unique gifts. Whether you are looking to add to your own collection or for unique gift ideas, a friendly antique mall vendor will quickly become your new best friend and go-to vintage gift finder.

5. Vintage handbags are making a really big comeback.

And just like that, Carrie Bradshaw made vintage handbags a hot gift idea. From sequined baguettes to quality leather backpacks, a vintage handbag is an affordable – and sustainable! – purchase. Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Pre-loved and vintage handbags have never been hotter, more affordable, and more sought after.

Most Sought-After Vintage Handbags

  • Hermes Kelly & Birkin

  • Fendi baguette

  • Louis Vuitton Murakami print

  • Prada Re-edition

  • Luis Vuitton Neverfull

  • Gucci Marmont

The vendors at your local antique mall are sure to have plenty of purses to peruse. Whether your unique gift involves beads and tassels or sequins and sparkles, you will enjoy searching each booth for the best retro handbag. Looking for something specific? Just ask – the vendors love to help!

6. Home décor makes a perfect vintage gift idea.

Vintage and vintage-inspired glass candlesticks make a thoughtful gift idea for the retro enthusiast. Blown glass, cut glass, and art deco etched glass all make an impactful and unique gift. Vintage candlesticks are for more than just candles -these retro gifts make eye-catching coffee table displays and small vases in a pinch!

These vintage gifts come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and heights. Vintage Hobnail glass candle holders make adorable little planters for succulents or party favors for a bridal shower. Create a memorable and unique gift with mix-and-match colored hobnail glass candle holders with a variety of tiny plants.

7. Vintage cameras have a lasting appeal and make a unique gift.

We aren’t developing the same love affair with modern cameras as we did for older cameras. The weight and feel of the camera in our hands, the focus and flash, and the satisfying click with each press of the shutter button – it’s just not the same with a smartphone. If you have a budding photographer on your gift list, they would be thrilled with a vintage camera.

The price of vintage cameras can vary widely, so take your time finding the perfect antique store vendor to help you with this unique gift. Developing a retro camera collection takes time, so this gift idea can be on repeat for all the big events in the life of someone special. Vintage cameras make a classic retro gift that can connect a modern hobbyist with photography’s roots.

8. Vintage games are a great gift idea for the ultimate gamer.

Retrogaming, classic gaming, or old-school gaming – whatever you want to call it, the obsession is real. Older generation console games, computers, and handheld devices are considered retro. But ask a current gamer the definition of an “antique game,” and it will involve an earlier version of Atari. (Ouch!)

What about a gift idea for those who like a nice board game or handheld puzzle? Antique malls are an absolute treasure trove of unique gifts for the game lover. Who’s up for a game of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland? For the individualist on your gift list, there is always the Rubik’s Cube!

9. A unique gift for someone with a future so bright they have to wear shades.

Vintage sunglasses are so in right now. This vintage gift has the perfect blend of nostalgia and style, making it the perfect statement piece for any accessory collection. Where can you find glow-up fashion at an affordable price? Your local antique mall has never been more on-trend.

Vintage sunglasses make a unique gift because the colors, shapes, and styles of past decades are decidedly different from the styles of today. How fun to have a totally affordable throwback moment in vintage sunglasses that defined an era! This is a gift idea that just keeps on giving as an accessory built to last.

10. Give the unique gift of inspiration with vintage lighting.

The right lighting feature can completely change the look of a room. Whether you are looking to gift a table lamp, wall sconce, or chandelier, this vintage gift is pure inspiration. Flip the switch on vintage gift giving with lighting designs and materials that were popular within the past 20 years.

Art deco lighting can be a solid retro gift choice for the person who favors those characteristics. Geometric shapes and symmetric forms with repeated elements are the hallmark of art deco and can be a fabulous find in your favorite antique mall. Not finding the vintage look you were hoping for? Ask a knowledgeable vendor and let them guide you to the ideal vintage gift ideas.

11. Is there a more unique gift than a vintage typewriter? I think not.

Want to inspire your writer friend with the ideal retro gift? A vintage typewriter is absolutely the right answer. They are a fantastic conversation starter and make a person feel like a bonafide writer just by having the typewriter on their desk.

No updates. No passwords. Even Tom Hanks recognizes the ultimate vintage gift when he sees it. Seriously, a vintage typewriter is just cool to use. And they appreciate in value, making it a financially sound decision and thoughtful retro gift.

Where Can I Find Inspiring Gift Ideas?

Retro gifts and unique vintage finds can be found online, but that assumes you know what you are looking for. The right person and the right occasion require the right vintage gift. Often finding the perfect vintage gift for someone special takes inspiration.

Few places are as inspiring as your local antique mall. The variety of goods and services coupled with the helpful, educated vendors makes time wandering the aisles incredibly well spent. Without question, a unique gift for any occasion is waiting for you within the vendor booths.

Shop Successfully for Vintage Gifts

Part of the fun of shopping in an antique mall is the wide variety of vendor booths and items you will discover. It is still good to have a plan. If you find something you like, take a picture and make note of the booth number it was found in. It’s a little like leaving breadcrumbs to find your way back to the treasure!

Consider making a list of all the special occasions you have coming up and the people you would like to give a unique gift to. You will love the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of finding the perfect vintage gift for everyone on your list. Don’t be surprised if you start making up occasions to give retro gifts just so you can spend more time at the antique mall!

Visit. Explore. Shop. Your local antique mall offers a community of vendors who welcome you to spend the day exploring each booth for unique gifts and finds for every occasion. Enjoy the truly exceptional shopping experience that comes with friendly vendors, clean spaces, and maybe even a café to stop for a bite!

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