A Very Vintage Christmas: Indiana/Midwest Holiday Shopping

Hello, beloved!

I’m starting a new series this year entitled “A Very Vintage Christmas,” and for my first post in the series, I want to share with you a list of some amazing holiday markets.

I know I won’t be able to make it out to all of these events; less is more, especially around the holidays. This is my vintage Christmas shopping bucket list, if you will (or even if you won’t).

Hobnob Holiday Market–Danville, IL

The Hobnob Market takes place a few times a year in Illinois, and is “not your Grandma’s antique show.” The indoor Holiday Market features more than 100 antique, vintage, and junque vendors and artisans. The best part is that you can shop to the sounds of live holiday music while enjoying a snack from a number of food vendors or sipping a cocktail.

This year there are two weekend markets–a total of four dates–with completely different vendors each weekend. Tickets are limited for the exclusive, first-look “Making Merry Parties” on the evenings of Friday, November 20 and Friday, December 4. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the Party, but your ticket for the Making Merry Party is also good for admission to the Market the next day.

At only $5, the price of admission to the Hobnob Holiday Market on Saturday, November 21 or Saturday, December 5 is a steal! At that price, you can afford to attend both weekends.



Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com

Horton’s of Tipton Christmas Vendor Market–Tipton, IN

Overwhelmed by large markets, but still looking for the charm and variety of a vintage holiday market? Horton’s packs a whole lot of French and farm-inspired charm into a smaller space. Admission is free, and Horton’s seasonal markets always feature a great range of reasonably-priced gifts, handmades, antiques, furniture, decor, and general  vintage wares from a number of vendors. You’ll also find a case full of homemade fudge, as well as Christmas trees, garlands, and wreaths. There’s nothing like the shopping a Midwestern small town has to offer for the holidays! This year’s market is December 5th.


Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton

Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace Holiday Shoppapalooza–Indianapolis, IN

Of all the Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace events that take place throughout the year, the Holiday Shoppapalooza has to be the most fun. Around 100 vendors take over the South Pavilion of the Indiana State Fair Grounds with everything from clothes to jewelry to decor to furniture and beyond. If you especially fancy mid-century modern, this is the place for you. Food trucks and adult beverages add to the fun for junquers. You can find many of the Midwest’s favorite vintage vendors and artisans at any given Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace–imagine this event covered in Christmas! Admission is just $5, but be prepared for some serious shopping–over 1,000 guests are expected to attend this year’s event on November 21!


Featured, Hoosier Sister. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy
Featured, Hoosier Sister. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy
Featured, Urban Barn. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy
Featured, Urban Barn. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy

Chandelier Barn Market Country Christmas–Montgomery, IN

The Wilson family opens up their working farm, packing barns full of vendors and shoppers for the Chandelier Barn Market. Live music, food, primitives, upcycled goods, jewelry, clothes, and handmades of all kinds can be found both indoors and outdoors in a great country setting. The event has already passed this year, but prepare for a great, early holiday shopping adventure on the farm next November! Admission this year was $5.


Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Featured, Pretty Pistol. Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Featured, Pretty Pistol. Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket

I would love to hear about your favorite holiday markets in the comments below! Stay tuned for more in my series “A Very Vintage Christmas.”


DIY Cabinet Door Coat and Key Hanger

Today I’m sharing about one of my favorite finds, which became one of my favorite little projects, of all time—this cabinet door turned coatrack/key holder!


A couple of years ago, we were out to eat with my family at a sweet place called The Local. Everything on their menu consists of locally sourced and often organic produce and meat. You can always count on places like this to have some sweet décor, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s simple, but classic and trendy all at the same time. I noticed that their coat hangers by the door were simply hooks mounted on old cabinet doors. I was determined to copy this look at home for a much needed space by our front door to hang coats and keys.



I had some old cabinet doors in my basement (ones that actually came from our kitchen cabinets), but they didn’t have much character. I decided to keep my eye out for one, or even just a piece of wood with great character, and if I didn’t find one, I’d settle for one of the doors we already had. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I’m a big believer in working with what you have.



Wouldn’t you know it…not long after, my husband and I went for a walk around town one summer Saturday. We came across an estate sale, and even though we didn’t have any money on us, we decided to stop in. We wandered around in the house and had fun looking, but didn’t see anything we had to have. On our way out, we meandered through the backyard. Amongst lawn furniture and tools, we found one old, random cabinet door. It was perfect—painted white over layers of green and black, which could be seen where the paint was chipping on the sides, with just the right balance of vintage imperfection and sturdiness. I wouldn’t have to do anything to it to get the look I wanted!



The door wasn’t marked with a price, so we tracked down the owner and asked how much he would like for it. He replied, “I’ll give YOU $4.00 to take it off my hands.” Right answer, sir.



With a free cabinet door in our possession, all we needed were some hooks to complete our shabby chic coat/key hanger. All of the hooks came from Hobby Lobby and were 50% off, for a total of around $10.00. I spray painted the cross white, and that was the most effort I had to put into the whole project, because my dad actually screwed the hooks onto the door. I’m still learning to be handy with stuff like that. I have the ideas, but the carrying out of the ideas often depends on my husband or my dad.



So there you have it! It’s one of my favorite things in our house, and it is also one of the things for which we get the most compliments and questions. I love telling people I got that door for free!

On Your Own Front Door

Before you start judging me for writing a Christmas post on January 6, let me just say that a) being the 12th Day of Christmas, yesterday was the last official day of Christmas, so I really only missed it by a hair! b) I wrote this post on December 10, in plenty of time for Christmas, but our computer charger died, we didn’t buy a new one until a few days before Christmas, and I was having too much fun to sit down and work on my blog! c) In my opinion, we all need a little leftover Christmas to get us through the month of January. Plus, you all Pin Christmas stuff throughout the year–I’ve seen you!–so, you’re welcome!

This is, in part, a story about our cheap, beloved Christmas decor.
I actually get nervous to post pictures of our house on my blog. I LOVE our house, but nothing steals your confidence or joy faster than comparison! Compared to some of the blogs I follow, my house and decor is nothing to write home about. BUT, I share because I hope it inspires and entertains you, nonetheless, and to remind you that your home is a reflection of your own personality and interests. Everything in my house has a story, and that helps tell our story!
We’re a frugal bunch–both out of necessity and a desire to live simply. SO, if you’re looking for decorating inspiration from a real person who decorates on a dime, you’ve come to the right place. I’m a big believer in working with what you have, adding to your collection a little at a time, and using elements with real character. Our Christmas collection has only had three and half years to build, but I love it. I’ve both gotten rid of some stuff and added some stuff along the way. I mean, how many Christmas decorations does one actually need, anyway?
 Our first Christmas was spent in our apartment in South Bend. We actually had more money then than we do this Christmas for decorations, but we bought everything at the dollar store and the dollar spot at Target, except for our little three-foot tree, which we bought for $12 at the shop where I would end up having a booth space later on. We had two red, felt stockings that we hung with string from our bookcase; a box of miniature red, silver, and white ornaments and a strand of lights for our little tree; a few vintage Christmas cards that I also hung with string; a glittery, silver star for the top of our tree; and a small vase filled with red and green berry-looking things (ok, I lied…the berry-looking things were from The Christmas Tree Store).
Tony and I started a tradition on our first Christmas to give each other an ornament each year, but no other gifts. We didn’t have any ornaments, except for the box of nine miniature ornaments I bought from Target, and we figured it would be something unique, thoughtful, and inexpensive we could give each other. We felt like we would be able to put more money toward gifts for others and for giving to those in need if we kept it simple in our own little family. This is our fourth Christmas exchanging ornaments, and we’re sticking with it!
I got this one for Tony from the fair trade store where I used to work. It was made in Palestine from olive wood. Part of the significance for us–apart from the obvious ties to the birth and life of Jesus–is that I took a trip to Israel and Jordan in college, and I remember learning about how olive trees thrive in conditions which most other plants cannot survive at all. It has seemed to be a theme throughout our marriage. And, anyone that knows Tony will tell you that he embodies the concept of peace.
This ornament was personalized by Bronner’s, the largest and most amazing Christmas store in the world, in Frankenmuth, MI. 2011 was the year we got married and the year we went to Ireland for our honeymoon. Our wedding rings are claddagh rings, which represent friendship (hands), loyalty (crown), and love (heart). We got engaged just before I went to Ireland for an internship, so it seemed fitting. I actually bought Tony’s ring in Dublin for about $12. I told you–we’re frugal!
2013 was the year we adopted our sweet Wilson. Neither Tony nor anyone in the world could find a dog on an ornament that looks like Wilson, but he came pretty close.
To represent Tony’s first year of gardening, and the overabundance of tomatoes grown.
At one point, my husband was an avid cyclist. He biked from South Bend, IN to Seattle, WA when we were in college. I once biked to the ice cream place and back :).
Since our first two Christmases were in apartments, we didn’t really have space for a big tree, let alone space to store one all year. Last year was our first Christmas in our very own house, so we celebrated by going out on Thanksgiving weekend and getting ourselves an artificial 6-foot tree, on sale, for less than $30! I wanted our tree to have a theme or a color scheme, so we kept our sweet, little tree, and the ornaments that we buy each other each year go exclusively on that tree. At some point, our ornaments will outgrow the little tree and we’ll have to figure something else out, but it works for now!
I went for neutral colors on our big tree last year and this year, with just a hint of red. It’s nothing close to a flocked Christmas tree, but I added a little bit of a “snow” to it by dabbing white acrylic paint and sprinkling very fine glitter on the branches. It’s just a simple, cheap way to “spruce” up your tree…see what I did there?
I made ornaments with a package of clear, glass ornaments from Hobby Lobby (Note: Buy them when they’re half off or with a 40% coupon from the website. This year I was able to find them even cheaper at Michael’s.) and shredded pages from an old Bible that I got (for free!) at a flea market. I made a lot of these for my booth this year, and I was nearly out before November was over. I also had a lot of these little skeleton key reproductions laying around, leftover from bookmarks and jewelry I made to sell in my booth, so I figured I would use those up, as well. I used whatever ribbon, string, and twine I had on hand (and I do always have that stuff on hand. So useful for hanging banners and gift wrapping and such!). I used a couple of spools of wide burlap ribbon for garland (again, these are a great deal at Hobby Lobby if you have a coupon or if you wait until they’re 50% off). I bought the star and crown ornaments for $1 each at an after-Christmas sale last year. All the other ornaments on this tree were gifts from my mom and mother-in-law. We still have that glittery, silver star tree-topper from our first dollar store Christmas!
The tree “skirt” is simply a square yard of fabric from Hobby Lobby. I can’t sew, and I also couldn’t find a tree skirt cheap enough that I loved. I really wanted something frilly and lacy and French-inspired, but my mom talked me into this red and white chevron pattern while we were out shopping. It’s just cute. Everyone needs a little bit of red in their Christmas decor, and who doesn’t love chevron?
My grandmother made these ceramic Santa Clauses in the ’80s, and guess what? I still love them. They adorned the fireplace mantel in my parents’ house ever year when I was growing up. They just remind me of home and great Christmas memories, and I’m still really impressed that my Maw-Maw made these.
I have three spray-painted Goodwill frames that I almost always use on the mantel for seasonal decor. I just switch out the prints in the frames accordingly. Check out my “DIY/Inspiration”, “Holidays”, and “Decor” boards on Pinterest for a wealth of sweet printables.
Old blue Ball jars are a staple in vintage decorating. You can’t pass these up for just a few dollars at auctions and flea markets! The white ceramic deer was a lucky find at Goodwill.
I also have a small collection of old books that I use year-round in my decor. It works out well for Christmastime that most of these books are green, but I’m on the lookout for some red books to add to the mix. Most of these books are from garage sales, flea markets, etc., but a few of them are special. I have a Girl Scout book that belonged to my mom, and a Boy Scout book that belonged to my dad–it even has his name on the front. My mom found this 1951 copy of The House at Pooh Corner at a garage sale, and I just adore it. I loved Winnie the Pooh growing up. Even then, I was way too interested in decorating. My room was decorated in Classic Pooh. Not Pooh, but Classic Pooh, and that’s the way I wanted it.
I’ve been in love with lanterns for several years, but I just have one, which I got at a garage sale. Again, they’re expensive, and I’m on the hunt for ones that I like at the right price! They’re so versatile–they’re beautiful with candles, or really any kind of seasonal decor with which you want to fill them year-round. My husband was kind enough to gather a whole bunch of pine cones for me to use in our Christmas decor. I was content to just buy a couple of bags of faux pine cones from Michael’s, but Tony’s even cheaper than I am! 🙂 I have several of these vintage metal/wire baskets, crates, and lockers that I’ve collected from flea markets and antique stores over the years, so I filled one up that wasn’t being used with some garland and pine cones, and draped a green, plaid scarf that my husband doesn’t wear anymore over the side. Ironically enough, I bought the scarf for him as a Christmas gift before we were married. I’d love to fill a crate with greenery and birch logs for the porch next year! In case you’re wondering, I use the other crates for organizing books and food–not in the same crate ;). I have some of those collapsible cloth organizing bins, too, but these just have so much more character. When I can find them cheap, I snatch them up!
The burlap stockings were $4, and I decided to add some “chic” to their shabby look by hot glueing some simple embellishments.
I don’t have a ton of outdoor decorations–partly because we don’t have electricity outside for lights–but I think simple, pretty decorations make a great statement. My sister was getting rid of these cute little trees in a garage sale, and when I asked her about them, she was kind enough to give them to me. The wreath matches the garland in the wire crate, and–get ready for this–I got both of them and two other berry garlands for $4.50 from a local garage sale page on Facebook. Next year, I’m hoping to make a rustic sign that reads “peace” or “joy” (you know the ones…you’ve seen them all over Pinterest!) and maybe add some vintage ice skates, skis, or a sled to the mix!
There you have it, folks. A Christmas home tour with some stories and money-saving tips/inspiration thrown in. Merry Christmas! I hope you all have loving friends and family with which to spend the holiday, as well as a warm place to share and call home.
Oh, and happy bargain shopping! 😉
“But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.”



How to Trace Vintage-Inspired Advertising onto Glass

Hey, guys! Ok, really quickly, I have to share a story about “hey, guys”. I went to Ireland for an internship between my junior and senior years of college. I helped at Dublin Christian Mission’s summer youth camps. All the kids thought it was so funny when I would refer to them in a group as “guys,” so they would make fun of me in their best American accents and say things like, “Hey, guys. Let’s eat a SUCKER and then go get a COOKIE at Staaaaarrrrbucks.”

My husband and I went back to Ireland for our honeymoon, and we took a couple of Paddywagon tours to travel around the country (I would HIGHLY recommend Paddywagon if you go to Ireland. SO fun.). We had three different drivers, and one had actually gone to school at Indiana University. He had picked up some American phrases and added them to his regular vocabulary while living in the States—one being “guys.” Our next driver loved to do impressions of our previous driver, saying things like, “Alright, GUUUUYYYSSS! Come on, GUUUUYYYSSS! Hey, GUUUUYYYSSS!”

I can’t think of a better way to address a group, so I’m sticking with “guys,” no matter how funny that sounds.

Anyway, I moved into my new booth space over the weekend! I wanted to share it with you, especially one project in particular—my corner cabinet–because I used a technique I had never tried before, and I think you’ll want to try it yourself as soon as you see how easy it was and how it turned out.

I decided I needed one good display piece in the booth, and by that I mean one that is not for sale. In my previous booth space, we would get a big hutch or pie safe or bookshelf or cabinet or what have you, make a great display in it with all of our little pieces, and then it would quickly sell. The little pieces would be a mess on the floor or just placed awkwardly wherever the buyer could find a space for them, and it would be another couple of weeks before we could get another big piece in to replace it.

Tony’s late grandfather bequeathed a corner cabinet, as well as several other pieces of furniture, to us. Corner cabinets are great, and I know buying a new one is really expensive. This one was immaculate, and we very much appreciated it…buuut we didn’t have a space to put it, and it was rather outdated. With a little bit of work, we thought this would make a perfect display piece for the booth. I wish I would’ve taken a before shot, but I was too eager to get some Annie Sloan chalk paint on her! I used my go-to colors, Paris Grey and Old White.

It looked beautiful with just the paint, but I wanted to do something to make it really unique. I thought about replacing the glass with chicken wire, but I just couldn’t bear to bust out this perfect glass. Authentic and faux advertising pieces are super popular (and one of my very favorite looks), and I’ve really been wanting to try my hand at it. One of the easiest ways to achieve this look is by tracing advertising text onto glass—BRILLIANT!


My inspiration for painting advertising typography on glass: http://thegraphicsfairy.com/painted-french-windows/

I searched through some old advertising pieces for inspiration on Graphics Fairy, and found one that would be perfect for a China cabinet. I wanted to change the text to something more my style and perhaps easier to trace, so I made my own signage in Word. You can do the same! I suggest using landscape format (turning the page horizontally), and adjusting the font size to fit your project. If none of the fonts in Word thrill you, you can always download free fonts from sites like dafont.com. Check out my DIY Pinterest board for lots of downloadable fonts.


My inspiration for China cabinet advertisinghttp://thegraphicsfairy.com/vintage-advertising-clip-art-ironstone-pitcher/

Once I got my advertising printed out, I cut down the unnecessary blank space at the tops and bottoms of each page and taped them to the inside of the cabinet door with painter’s tape. I used this acrylic paint marker that I got from Hobby Lobby for about $4 to do the tracing and filling in of the letters on the outside of the cabinet door glass. This is a medium sized tip, but they come in different sizes (as well as different colors) for smaller and larger jobs. I suppose you could use a Sharpie, but I think it would turn out rather streaky. The paint marker was especially great for filling in the traced letters. You can fix mistakes as you go while the paint is still wet, but once it’s dry, it’s permanent.



You might notice some of my Downton Abbey references.


I don’t have a very steady hand or great handwriting, so if I can do it, you can do it! I didn’t worry too much about getting it perfect. It is hand drawn, and it’s supposed to look hand drawn. It adds to the character and the shabby, vintage look.



I took the signage down once I traced the letters so I could see better to fill them in.


 Hope you’re enjoying the reflections of our very old basement in the glass…


I removed and painted the hardware with Paris Grey.



Everything’s dry and finished, and ready to move in to the booth…

And here she is in all her glory and filled with merchandise in the booth!


I’ve already had several people inquire about purchasing it. My urge is to just sell it knowing that there are buyers ready and waiting, but I think I would kick myself once it’s gone. It makes sense to use a piece that was free to me for displays, rather than to go buy a piece for displays…I think. For now, at least.


In the process of moving in…


I love that there is storage down below, too!


My husband very patiently decopaged all those book pages onto the wall while I worked on price tags and inventory. The pages are from an old songbook and an old Bible that I bought at an auction and a flea market, respectively.

One last thing I want to point out…this tub. There are few things more adorable than a claw foot tub, but it’s hard to find old ones in good shape. I found this one at an estate auction. The couple had used it in their garden, which I think is an adorable idea, but it had been out in the elements for a long time. The inside was covered in dirt, rust, and algae, and the outside had been spray painted a pretty hideous color of bright blue. After a lot of scrubbing, cleaning, painting, and heavy lifting (it’s IRON, folks), it’s gorgeous again and waiting for someone to do something adorable with it. I hope whoever buys it sends me a picture of where it ends up. A lady at the auction told me she bought one once and made a garden fountain out of it by installing a pump and a plug. Her grandkids love to play in it. CUTE!




Thanks for reading, GUYS, and don’t forget to check out my booth, Bird and Tree Vintage!

What to Know If You’re Headed to an Auction (For Beginners)

I used to be really intimidated by auctions. I grew up going to auctions with my parents, who are antique collectors, but I never paid enough attention to learn anything; I’ve just had to learn these things through my own experience. When my mom, sister, and I started a booth space at Logan Village Mall in Historic Downtown Noblesville, I got talked into attending an auction with them. We offer unique home decor, furniture, antiques, gifts, and handmade and repurposed items. There really is no better place to find these things, especially for great prices, than auctions. Once you go to one (as long as it’s a good one), you’ll be hooked! Now I attend auctions for things for my own home, in addition to items for our booth.

You can find all kinds of stuff at auctions—tools, lawn care and farming equipment, sporting gear, kitchenware, furniture, antiques, collectibles, and even automobiles. Don’t count out an auction just because all the stuff is old…yes, it’s old, and it’s even USED! I can totally understand why people might be turned off by that, but if you’re thrifty, let me tell you—just give it a chance! If you like the thrill of a great deal, this will be your new hobby. And P.S., you find new and next-to-new items at auctions, too. They’re not just for those of us in the vintage realm. 

Auctionzip.com is your best friend. You can put in your zip code and find auctions in your area. The auction services list the types of items and post pictures of many of the items they will be auctioning. You’ll definitely want to check out the pictures to see if this is an auction you’re interested in attending. I usually look for auctions that have many items I’m interested in, as I don’t want to waste my time going for one item with which I’m not guaranteed to walk out.

When you find an auction you’re interested in, here are some things to remember:

Show up about 15 minutes early, if you can. That way, you’ll have a chance to look at all the items up close before the auction actually starts. Once the item is sold to you, it’s final. I’ve bid on items impulsively before that I can only see from my seat, only to be disappointed when I got them in my hands and realized they were broken, stained, etc. Most auctioneers will let you walk around and inspect items during the auction, but you might miss something, as they won’t be taking a break while you’re perusing!

Bring cash and/or checks with you, as well as a valid ID/driver’s license. Some auction companies will allow you to pay for your items with a card, but they will likely charge a buyer’s premium. It’s a good idea to check the information on Auctionzip.com, as accepted forms of payment are often mentioned in the auction listing. One good thing about cash is that it ensures that you stay on budget–once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you bring checks, you may just bid your little heart out and then feel it coming up in your throat when you’re writing your check and realize how much you’ve spent.

Get a number from the clerk. This may seem obvious, but you can’t bid without a number. They will usually ask to see your ID and for your telephone number. This is so they can track you down if you’re a scoundrel and leave without paying or write a bad check. Don’t do that.

While you’re getting your number, look for a sign describing the auctioneer’s policy on buyers’ premiums. Beware the buyer’s premiums–an extra percentage that is charged on each item you purchase. Not every auctioneer charges a buyers’ premium, but this charge is often used to cover his or her costs of the facility and such. They usually range from 5-10%, and this can certainly add up. Most auctioneers will also post on their auctionzip.com listing whether there will be a buyers’ premium and how much the buyers’ premium will be.

Decide in your mind what your top bid for an item is before you start bidding.

Wait to see if an auctioneer will go lower before raising your number (and if you didn’t know, this is how you bid. Other acceptable forms of bidding are raising your hand or yelling, “YEP!” Unless you’re an old man in overalls and cool enough to do this, I would suggest just raising your number like a normal person.) . For example, if the auctioneer starts out with a high number (even if it seems reasonable or is below the top bid you have in mind), wait to see if anyone bids at that price. If not, the auctioneer will be forced to offer a lower price, and a lower price again if no one bids. Don’t miss out on the item, but give it time to see how low the price could get. The auctioneer may be forced to go all the way down to $1 before anyone bids. You don’t want to bid at $20 if you could’ve gotten it for a $1…see what I mean? Are you smelling what I’m stepping in? Are you drinking my sake, Kimosabi?

Keep track of the things you purchase and your total. You can write these things on your number card. When you are the top bidder on an item, the auctioneer will need to see your number, and an assistant or clerk will write down the information. That’s how they will know what to charge you when you pay to leave. I suggest writing your own information down, A) so that you know which items to collect before you leave, how much money you’re spending, and how much money you have left to spend, if you brought cash, and B) to make sure your total matches up with what the clerk is charging you in the end. Don’t forget to include sales tax (unless it’s an estate sale, in which case no sales tax will be charged, at least in the state of Indiana) and buyer’s premium, if there is one

If an auctioneer has several like items to sell, he may say that he’s auctioning these items “choice.” That means that if you’re the top bidder, you’re able to pick any of those items you want, and you can even take as many as you want. Just remember that the price applies to each item. For example, let’s say an auctioneer is selling five chairs, “choice”, and you’re the top bidder at $10. You can pick out one of those chairs for $10, or you can take as many as you want for $10 each. The slimmer the pickings get on those items, the lower the bids will most likely be. You can choose to bid higher when more of the items are available and have the best choice, or you can choose to bid lower and get a deal on what’s left over. Make sense?

If you purchase small items, you can go up and get them as soon as they are sold to you. If they are larger items that will need to be loaded in the car later, they will usually put those items off to the side or leave them sitting for you to take at the end. Don’t forget them, though!

That brings me to another good thing to keep in mind: don’t purchase things that won’t fit in your vehicle. If you don’t have a way to transport the item, even if it’s awesome—sorry, pal. You just can’t buy it. I’ve gotten in a bind where we’ve had to make calls on the spot and borrow trucks and such before. It causes a lot of stress, and we were just lucky to have people willing to help us right away. It is very rare to find an auction house that is willing to let you keep large items at the facility to come back and pick up at a later date.

If you are purchasing items to resell, keep in mind that you’ll want to make a profit. Don’t overpay for items. If you don’t think you’ll be able to get more than $20 for an item, don’t pay more than $10, especially if there’s any work that needs to be done to the item (painting, repairs, etc.).

Another tip for those who are purchasing to resell: bring your tax ID number and business license. As a vendor, items purchased for resale are tax exempt, but the auction service must have your business information on file.

You can leave before the auction is over, but you must pay before you load your stuff up in the car or take any items off the premises. My sister and I stayed at an auction for almost 8 hours last weekend, to the very end. I wouldn’t recommend it, but we wanted those deals and there was stuff we wanted that wasn’t for sale until the very end! I’ve never been to an auction that lasted that long, so don’t worry–it usually doesn’t require that much commitment!

Just have fun. Don’t get too bummed if someone bids you out on something you really wanted. Just buy some nachos at the concession stand and move on.

This is a useless tip, and really not a tip at all, but if there are Amish people at the auction, you know it’s going to be good. The coolest thing is when Amish people buy all these antique tools and butter churns and stuff and you know they’re going to go home and actually USE them. I like to imagine what they are thinking… “What the heck are these English people going to do with a washboard, hang it on the wall?! WHY?!”

Have fun, guys! I’m off to what looks to be a decent auction tomorrow night, myself! Let me know about your auction experiences in the comments below!

*These tips are based on lessons I have learned going to auctions in the state of Indiana. I’m assuming that auctions are pretty much the same everywhere (with the exception of getting in bidding wars with Amish people over antique tools), but I could be wrong.


Just a few examples of some of my favorite auction finds in my house. I bought the couch and chair together for $25…that’s $12.50 each. I mean, where else can you find a clean, like-new couch for $12.50?!



Our entertainment center–12 dolla bills, ya’ll! It had been a light wood stain with ribbons and flowers painted on the doors (your ’90s girly bedroom called and wants  its cabinet back), but I saw the potential and threw some of my favorite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White on it. HEYO!


Old mirror turned chalkboard–$10! I sprayed painted the mirror with Krylon Chalkboard paint, and what do you think I used to paint the frame, that had been gold? Surprise! Annie Sloan in Old White :). So trusty!