Confessions of an ‘Allston Christmas’ newbie

What I learned the hard way in my quest for discount household goods.

Trash and furniture piled up outside apartments off Brighton Avenue in Allston. Chelsea Henderson/Globe Correspondent

Christmas came early this year. Three months and 24 days, in fact. 

Ask any college student in Boston, and you’ll learn the true meaning of the Boston holiday known as “Allston Christmas.” Every year around Sept. 1, the streets of Allston (and the rest of Boston) are overflowing with furniture, décor, and trash left behind by college students moving out of their leased apartments. For those who are starting their new leases on Sept. 1, this holiday provides the perfect opportunity for discount shopping. 

This year, I participated in my very first Allston Christmas. After years of living in on-campus dorms, I finally signed my first lease with friends. As a first-timer, here are my takeaways from the experience:

A gray couch left outside an apartment building near the Warren Street T stop in Allston. – Chelsea Henderson/Globe Correspondent

Start keeping an eye out early


Even though Sept. 1st gets all the hype, people start leaving their discarded belongings on sidewalks early. It was mid-August when I saw some of the first Allston Christmas contenders popping up on the streets: used desks, bookshelves, etc. As the weeks passed, more and more furniture items joined them. The week before move-out, people started to leave items in front of the trash room in my building. I snagged a few golden, perfect-condition picture frames with prints. You know what they say: Another man’s trash is a college student’s treasure. 

Act fast …

With so many college students in Boston, the good items from the street get picked up quickly. When I was walking down the street near my school one day, I saw a lovely white dresser. I didn’t want to make a decision then and there, and I wasn’t in a position to carry it away, so I kept walking. Twenty minutes later, the dresser was gone. If you see something you’re dying to have, make a quick decision. 

The wooden desk in Allston I wanted to take but couldn’t carry away. – Chelsea Henderson/Globe Correspondent

… But don’t be too hasty

It’s important to note that not everything on the streets is fair game; some stuff may just be unattended. And even if something is free for the taking, it may not be worth lugging it. While driving around Allston with a friend, I saw a beautiful wooden desk on the sidewalk. It was scratched, but with a little TLC, it would’ve been a great find. I was blinded by its beauty, but the more I looked at it, I realized it was too heavy and scratched. I’m sure my perfect desk is out there somewhere.


Look online

When all else fails, another cost-effective solution is Facebook Marketplace. Not only are there low-cost resale furniture items on the site, but people even advertise where they plan to leave stuff. Save money and time by heading for a certain location to look for items. 

If you missed this year’s holiday, there’s always next year. Get your gloves and hand trolley ready and leave your champagne-taste-expectations behind.


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