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  • Kraig Brachman

Simple and Inexpensive Literacy-based Holiday Gift Guide

The holiday season can get extremely expensive and fast. However, if you set yourself a budget, and do a little extra work, you can cross off every name on your shopping list this holiday season.



I don’t know if you know, but at the Further Education Society, we love reading. Books of all types: big ones, small ones, picture, text, or a combination of both. Getting people to read more, and more frequently, is a key step of our mission statement.

Getting books into people’s hands is the best way to encourage people to read. They also make great thoughtful and inexpensive gifts. Here are our suggestions for finding books your loved one will enjoy:

Thrift Stores


Women in Need Society is a Calgary based thrift charity that has been operating since 1992 and has been providing basic needs, resources, and support to women and their families. As well, WINS has been a long time FESA Program Partner, hosting a variety of our free literacy programs over the years.


Goodwill is another nonprofit thrift store located in Calgary. Their history stretches back all the way to 1902 in Boston. Goodwill’s Alberta connection goes back to 1963 where the first good will opened in Alberta in 1963.

Used Bookstores

Fair’s Fair

Arguably the preeminent used bookstore in Calgary, Fair’s Fair has been serving Calgarians since 1988 with quality used book are fair prices. Their catalog is organized and easy to find any genre, as well as knowledgeable staff who can look up what’s available at their two locations.

  • Locations: 907 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0S5; 104 61 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2H 0B2

Books Between Friends

Books Between Friends is an organization that takes in donations of used books and works with charitable groups to do the selling to help raise funds.

  • Location: 14, 3434 - 34 Avenue NE Calgary, Alberta

Online Bookstores

If you are the type who knows what you are looking for and doesn’t want the hassle of the hunt, we suggest shopping online for used books. These online retailers connect you with used book sellers from all over Canada — and beyond if you so choose — to find a good deal on a specific book you hope to gift or even out of print books!



Much like books, thrift stores and used books stores are your friend when it comes to looking for used board games. If you haven’t been board game shopping in a while, we highly suggest you do a bit of further research as there are so many more choices these days than the old classics like Monopoly, Candyland, or Sorry.

If you are looking for used board games in person, make sure to check if all the pieces are in the box before purchasing – if you are shopping on online, you can message the seller if they don’t mention it.



You can find pretty much anything on Ebay if you look long and hard enough – or are willing to pay anything, but if you are reading this guide, we suspect that isn’t you.

On Ebay there are two options to purchasing an item:

  • The Bid

  • The Buy It Now

Bid means you put in an amount, the highest bidder after a set period wins the online auction. Buy it now lets you skip that by paying a defined price by the seller.


Kijiji is a Canadian classifieds website where people can post free or paid ads. Most Canadian centres are represented on the website. You can find postings for houses, cars, jobs, and even board games!

  • Tip: If you are meeting in person, you can schedule a meeting at any Calgary Police location for safety and helps ensure people will not try to scam you.



Art/Craft Supplies

Art supplies can be incredibly expensive, but there are ways to get a gift for the art/craft minded person on the inexpensive side.


Yes, the dollor store is a great place to pick up most arts and craft supplies. I knew a trained artist who regularly shopped there to supply their work. From canvases to paints, to colouring books and crayons. Threads and needles to puzzles! There are around 50 Dollaramas in Calgary alone. One, that’s a little mind blowing; two, if you need to find one close to you, try Dollaramas’ store locator:


A great thing about arts and crafts is that you can repurpose old, unwanted, and even broken items into new projects. You can source inexpensive household items at thrift stores to turn into fun art projects: plates, cups, drawers, mirrors, clothing, the thrift store is your oyster!


Physical Activities

If you are looking for gifts for a more active person, finding pre-owned bikes, toboggins, skates, and other sporting goods is the best way to get into an active while keeping a budget. Growing up, all my hockey equipment was second hand, and it allowed my participation in the expensive sport.

Used Sports Equipment


There are TONS of used sporting goods on Kijiji. Remember the tip from before; head to a local police station parking lot to do the exchange for safety and to prevent scams.

Two Wheel View

Two Wheel View (TWV) is a non-profit that uses programs around bikes to change the lives of your in Calgary. TWV has a Earn-a-Bike program uses the bike as a tool to develop leadership and teamwork skills as well as bike mechanic capabilities in youth ages 11-17, and Full Cycle encourages First Nations youth to attend school and to engage in positive activity that builds community and enhances youth resiliency. TWV also sells bikes to help support the organization: o

  • Location: 1725 10 Ave SW #101, Calgary, AB T3C 0K1

Play It Again Sports

Play it Again Sports has a wide variety of new and used sports equipment.



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