Jan 11, 2017

How to Deal With Unwanted Gifts

What to do With Unwanted Gifts

After the holidays I am usually filled-to-the-brim with love in the form of items that bring me joy, but I’m also focused on cleaning and starting fresh for the new year. One item that doesn’t quite fit in either of those categories is unwanted gifts. I receive them, and I know you probably did too. Knowing that I am notoriously hard to shop for, I don’t usually hold it against the gift-giver. I do though, not hold onto gifts I receive that do not bring me joy. Perhaps it was a well-meaning gift from a long-lost relative, or just a miss from someone closer, it’s okay.

While reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up awhile back, I learned that a gift’s main purpose is to bring joy to the person who is giving the gift, not receiving it. This means that if you receive a gift and it isn’t quite right, it is completely okay (and normal) to part ways with it. After all, you want a relationship based on joy and happiness, right? Not one based on being guilted into keeping items you don’t like just to try to continue make the giver happy? So here is an easy step-by-step way to deal with unwanted gifts…

I think it goes without saying that you appreciate the gifts you receive. Be sure to graciously thank your gift-er and put aside any off-put feelings in the heat of the moment.

Take a moment to think about what type of gift this was. Was it something they no longer wanted and passed on? Or was this a gift that they intentionally bought for you? Why is it unwanted? Was it a thoughtful item or something that may have been hard for them to come by? Is it something you know someone else would enjoy much more than you?

Come to a decision about what to do with your unwanted gift. Often if it’s something small I will donate and move on. If it’s something larger or I feel like more thought is put into it, I may just be honest with the person and ask what they’d like me to do with it (this happened with a camera strap and my husband recently!). Always try to be very honest and not emotional if you choose to confront the person who gave it to you. If it’s something larger, perhaps lead with ,”I know you must have worked very hard to choose this gift for me, and while it’s very ________, I would feel guilty to not give it a great home / love it as much as someone else would / let it sit unused.” If the type of person who gave it to you is someone who will confront you later on, you need to address that in your relationship with them because it is not a healthy one if you are made to feel guilty over the item.

Either way, you can choose to put as little or as much thought into what to do with the unwanted gift as you’d like, the decision will ultimately be yours. Just know that if you receive something and it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s completely okay to feel that way and even more okay to thank that item for bringing the gift-giver joy and move on.

Feeling like a bad gift-giver? Here are a few easy ways to choose a meaningful gift for someone.

Did you receive any unwanted gifts during the holidays?

Expand Comments

I always make sure to include a gift receipt with any gift I give so that there is no awkwardness or pressure to keep something they don’t want! Thanks for sharing!

Unless it’s my mom or my husband, I’m always too nervous to tell someone that I don’t need/like their gift. But I applaud you for your honesty. It’s the best way to be!! Good ideas for all of those leftover holiday gifts!

A really interesting post! I’ve never read one discussing this topic, but it’s something we all go through at some point. This may sound absolutely terrible, but if I receive a gift that I really don’t need or like — but I can imagine someone else will — I will sometimes save it and gift it again to another person. This is rather than throw something away, as a way to be less wasteful and more environmentally friendly.

I love your tips, and now I’m wondering if I should also read Marie Kondo’s book :o)

I think it’s totally fine to re-gift, especially if the new recipient will genuinely use and enjoy it.

Great tips. There’s been a few times that I received gifts that were unwanted. I’ve always been told to be grateful for gifts so I never spoke up about them. Which isn’t a good thing because then the person doing the giving will assume that you like these type of gifts. lol

What a great post! The holidays are especially difficult because my mother-in-law is a very sentimental person and keeps EVERYTHING and I am completely opposite. I hate clutter and things that just sit and have no useful value. There are usually things that get donated after the holidays for sure.

This is a great post. I have a basket full of gifts from our wedding that we will probably never use. Thanks for sharing!

I usually try and salvage something from an unwanted gift – like only keep part of it.

This is a great idea too! Sometimes I receive gifts that are handmade/very sentimental and they go into a small keepsake box I have, sort of like loved treasures I’ve kept over the years.

This is a great post–never know exactly what to do with unwanted things. And, of course, I don’t want a bunch of clutter around!

I get unwanted gifts so often from clients and friends thanks for the tips.

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