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How to Shop on Etsy—and Our Shopping Editor’s Best Finds

Updated: May 18, 2023

Shopping on Etsy can be overwhelming, especially for those unfamiliar with the site. Read our Shopping Editor's tips for securing the best finds.

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How To Shop On Etsy—and Our Shopping Editor's Best FindsRD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)

I like to think of Etsy as the small business alternative to Amazon. While Amazon has thousands of bestselling brands (along with free shipping for Prime members), Etsy boasts some of the best handmade gifts available online. Because of the vast selection of jewelry, art and clothing that’s available, shopping on Etsy feels a lot like shopping at a flea market. Don’t worry, though—just keep a few Etsy shopping tips in mind to score unique finds for anyone on your gift list.

Apart from being a handmade marketplace, Etsy is also one of the best online thrift stores—it’s the perfect place to find vintage clothing and housewares, too. As a shopping editor, I spend 40 hours a week seeking out products that Reader’s Digest readers love. When it comes to browsing Etsy, there are a few things shoppers should keep in mind. Luckily, I’ve been shopping the platform for at least 10 years, and I’ve even sold a few things on there, too.

The best Etsy shopping tips

Browse the curated shops

Etsy typically curates a list of bestselling items for upcoming holidays. As an example, their Mother’s Day shop contains hundreds of finds from a huge swath of top sellers. It’s always worth taking a peek at these curated finds—they’re a good indication of current trends and hot items that make timely gifts.

Maximize results with search

As Etsy mentions in their help guide, using specific keywords is the best way to ensure your search yields good results. Think about the difference between searching for “bracelet” and “rose gold zodiac charm bracelet.” Another good tip when it comes to searching is to use a minus sign (-) in front of a word to exclude that term from your search. This is helpful for excluding certain colors, sizes or materials from results.

Use filters

Utilize Etsy’s robust search filters. Limit search results to items with free shipping, finds on sale or picks from star sellers. Shoppers can filter results to include estimated arrival time, price, color and shop location.

Keep an eye out for badges

Badges appear on search result photos, and they look like little banners with colorful backgrounds. There are a few different badges, and they all mean different things.

  • Bestseller: Bestseller badges indicate a high sales volume in the past six months. This is handy for locating items that other shoppers have their eye on.
  • Etsy’s Pick: Etsy has a number of style and trend editors that handpick items for campaigns. The Etsy’s Pick badge means the item was chosen by these editors for a featured collection.
  • Free Shipping: This badge is pretty self-explanatory. Any item with this badge ships free.
  • Star Seller: Star Seller badges are reserved for shops with a history of great customer experience. These shops show a high percentage of five-star reviews, on-time shipping and fast replies.
  • Selling Fast: Items with the Selling Fast badge are either low in stock or are selling fast. Items with these badges are high sellout risks and should be purchased soon.

Message sellers with questions

One thing that I love about Etsy is how easy it is to connect with sellers. Go to any shop page and click on the “contact” button to connect with the seller via private message before making a purchase. Use this handy communication tool to ask questions about listings, shipping or anything else. Some sellers do custom listings for special requests if asked.

Read shopper reviews

Like Amazon, reading shopper reviews is one of our best Etsy shopping tips. Reviews are found at the bottom of item listings. They can also be located in a section at the bottom of a shop’s page. My personal best practice is to aim for sellers with four stars or above.

If you see something you like, buy it

My last tip—and the most important tip of all—is to buy your favorite finds ASAP. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of times I found the perfect handmade gift—only for it to go out of stock in a matter of hours. So disappointing! Avoid this tragedy at all costs by securing gifts as soon as you can. Waiting too long may mean missing out on unique handmade items.

Silky Pajamas
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Our favorite Etsy finds

Silky pajamas

These smooth, silky pajamas have a lot of similar qualities to our favorite pajamas, and I found them using my own Etsy shopping tips. A classy collar, contrast piping and cute front pocket will have you wishing you could wear them indefinitely. Available in nine different shades and with options to add personalized monograms, these PJs make a pretty present for mom, sisters or bridesmaids. They’re currently up to 50% off depending on the style.

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Personalized Wooden Recipe Book
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Personalized wooden recipe book

This pretty wooden recipe book makes the perfect last-minute Mother’s Day gift—and it’s 40% off. Each book comes in one of three sizes and boasts 100 pages to record the recipient’s favorite recipes. Choose from different book colors, paper colors, cover styles and add a personal message to the front at no extra charge. It arrives with handy dividers to organize recipes by type.

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Custom Watercolor Portrait
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Custom watercolor portrait

Give dad a personalized Father’s Day gift he’ll treasure with this custom watercolor portrait. Choose between several different canvas sizes, or have a digital print sent over at a reduced price. Simply provide the photo and note and special requests—the artist will ship a custom-wrapped canvas as soon as it’s ready.

Use our Etsy shopping tips to find a custom frame for displaying it.

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Birth Flower Sweatshirt
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Birth flower sweatshirt

Accompany those Mother’s Day flowers with this floral birth flower sweatshirt while it’s 35% off. This top-selling sweatshirt allows shoppers to select the birth flowers of the recipient or the recipient’s family and friends to print on the front. It’s such a cute gift idea from kids to their mom.

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Birth Date Candle
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Birth date candle

Birthstone jewelry is super popular right now, opening the gates for all sorts of products that celebrate an individual’s birth date. This soy wax birth date candle comes with a custom label with the recipient’s birth date and name. Choose from several different scents, including black velvet, secret beach and tranquility. Add-ons are also available at an additional cost, including wick trimmers, gift bags and pretty matches.

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Self Care Gift Box
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Self-care gift box

This self-care gift box arrives with a whole host of items to make any day feel like a day at the spa. From a box with a cloud-like blanket and adorable succulent to an assortment including chocolate and a journal, there’s bound to be a version for any recipient. Snag it as a Mother’s Day gift basket while it’s 10% off, or use the Etsy shopping tips to find a similar box that’s more mom’s vibe.

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Custom Song Art
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Custom song art

We’re obsessed with sound wave prints. The seller converts a sound wave from a loved one’s voicemail or beloved song to a flat 2-D image. The wave is printed on a canvas, poster, or in some cases even a glass ornament. A thoughtful Mother’s Day gift or memorial, this classic print comes in several different styles and sizes for almost any occasion.

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Love Letter Blanket
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Love letter blanket

Add this custom love letter blanket to a gift basket for dad. The seller provides a template for the shopper to write a personal note that’s printed on a cozy cotton throw. It’s a one-of-a-kind keepsake item that’s also affordable at 20% off, and it’s guaranteed to make grandparents, parents or homesick college students smile.

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Organic Leather Slippers
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Organic leather slippers

One of the top trending items on Etsy is these handmade organic leather slippers. Not only are they some of the best slippers in terms of color selection—with 29 colorways—but these sheepskin slippers also mold to the foot’s shape. Enjoy unbeatable comfort, and they’re a fraction of the price of big-name brands.

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Photo Projection Bracelet
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Photo projection bracelet

Even the best jewelry brands can’t beat a custom find. This photo projection bracelet is a lot like a locket, but the built-in photo bead projects the picture on a wall using any phone’s flashlight. Simple and sweet, this elegant piece matches perfectly with other jewelry thanks to a selection of several different metals.

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