Unwanted Gift Guide: How To Avoid, When To Give Away And What To Re-Gift


For many of us, getting rid of clutter is challenging.

It can be even harder to let go of things we don’t need or love if they’ve been given to us as gifts.

If you have a closet full of gifts you don’t need or like, what do you do with them all?

Here are some strategies to help you avoid unwanted gifts and deal with the ones you do receive.

1. How To Avoid Unwanted Presents

The best strategy for dealing with unneeded and unloved gifts is not to receive them in the first place. But how?

If you have a particular gift-giving circle of family or friends, you can suggest that for people’s birthdays you each contribute to one big gift that the birthday girl or boy really wants. It saves wasted time and money for the buyers and guarantees a valued gift for the receiver.

If that won’t work, try this. When the gift-giving occasion (kid’s birthday, Mother’s day, graduation, whatever) is being discussed, take the opportunity to say something like:

  • The kids have so much stuff so please don’t get any gifts this year
  • Well, since you asked, I’d love a voucher from ….
  • Darling I know you usually like to surprise me, but this year I’m just hanging for those earrings/handcuffs/discontinued filing cabinets we saw at …

2. When To Give Away Unwanted Gifts

For most givers it’s the giving, not the gift, that matters.

Occasionally someone will find what they believe is the perfect present for you. Very occasionally.

More often than not, loved ones simply want to show you they care enough to go out and spend time and money getting you something.

So appreciate the gesture, savor the love behind it, but don’t feel compelled to keep the trinket. The thing is only a symbol. If you don’t love it and won’t wear/use/enjoy it, then let it go.

It’s unlikely you’ll be asked about the gift by the giver, but what if you are?

The answer depends on your personality, honesty, and relationship with the giver.

  • To someone who regularly gives you kitchen appliances when they know you don’t cook, you might say something like, ‘You know Mary, that was so generous of you. But as I never cook it seemed a waste to keep it so I gave it to my friend Sally. I hope you don’t mind.’
  • To a relative you don’t often see, you might say something like, ‘It was such a beautiful gift. Thank you Uncle Cecil.’

3. What To Re-gift

My suggestion is this: If you don’t love it and won’t use it, simply give it away to charity or to someone who would enjoy it.

I don’t recommend re-gifting – ie, passing something off as a gift you’ve purchased – unless:

  • It’s genuinely something you would buy for that person anyway, or
  • It’s an impersonal gift and you’re re-gifting to a non-close friend – eg wine to a colleague.

In other cases it can lead to embarrassment or an icky feeling inside.

And When You’re The Giver…

When you’re the one choosing a gift, opt for:

  • Something they’ve said they want
  • A gift card from somewhere you know they shop
  • Something easily re-giftable.

That way, you’ll help them avoid clutter too.

What Do You Think?

Agree? Disagree? Got better suggestions?

Please share!

Image by stevendepolo

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