5 Things To Do With Unwanted Gifts

There is no easy way to handle such a situation. Follow me on this one.

Christmas morning is in a full frenetic state. Your kids have torn threw the Santa surprises and made light work of everything you so meticulously planned and anticipated for so long during the year. Wrapping paper is strewn across the floor still. Boxes – most of them torn at the taped corners – rest in a pile that looks more like recycling than the stow of gold, frankincense and myrrh. That special holiday French Toast breakfast has been devoured and everyone is now gathered in an exhausted – yet giddy – pile of humanity. Just then the doorbell rings and your son jumps up to answer the door and greet the Macy’s card-wielding, consumer-minded, Aunt Peggy, who with arms of meticulously wrapped gifts, is prepared to deliver smiles-a-plenty disguised by flashy paper and extraneous packaging. It is – in your mind – time for the jingle, jangle, junk!

It happens every year. The family is gifted a variety of needless odds and ends that will hardly see the light of day beyond Dec. 26. Given from a very pure place – out of love, even – the gifts are thoughtful yet thoughtless all at once. But what do you do? You can’t not invite Peggy over each year. Afterall, she has no children of her own and she loves being the benefactor of all things ‘Black Friday.’ You can accept the gifts thankfully and graciously and use one of these 5 ideas for keeping your home clutter-free and your life focused on the important things at holiday time.

REGIFT. Perhaps the #1 way to get rid of holiday gifts you either don’t want or simply can’t find a use for is to regift it. This can be a trap though as you have to remember who originally gave you the gift as well as keep in mind who knows who and who may report back to who. You certainly don’t want to give the gift back to the giver. However, if the gift isn’t a Christmas-themed gift you can use it as a thank-you gift, a wedding gift (if appropriate), a housewarming gift, etc. Just remember the regifting rules!

EXCHANGE/RETURN. Most conscientious gift givers now offer a gift receipt to you just for this purpose. This holds especially true of gifts that are clothing related. No one wants to spend hard earned money on a sweater that is two sizes too small. If this is the case don’t feel bad for exchanging for a correct size or even a different garment altogether. Most people are not offended if they know you will wear/use the gift and truly like it. Some stores may even allow you to get a refund or just store credit. Whatever the case this is an opportunity for you to freshen up your capsule wardrobe or get an equally-priced item that will really yuletide yippee!

BARTER. I personally love this idea. Take one-part ‘White Elephant’ and mix it with one-part New Year’s get-together and throw in a dash of good, ‘ol fashioned bartering and what you have is a new way to ditch the unwanted gifts and perhaps score something that restores your Ho-Ho-Hope! The rules are simple. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the game. Each participant brings a wrapped, unmarked gift and places it in a designated area. Guests are given numbers as they arrive, or their names are randomly drawn, and they select gifts in that order — with a twist. On the first turn, the person assigned with #1 picks out a gift and opens it so all can see what it is. On the second turn, the person assigned with #2 gets the choice of “stealing” #1’s unwrapped gift or choosing a wrapped one from the pile. If #2 steals #1’s gift, then #1 must choose and open a wrapped gift. As subsequent players take their turns, they either select a new gift or take any already opened gift from any of the other players.

White Elephant

photo courtesy of sixthseal.com

FOR SALE. With the advent of the Internet selling something has never been easier. It is void of those awkward, impersonal meetups where you have to watch someone look over your goods. Between Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and Facebook, there are more opportunities than ever to unload the super-absorbency ShamWow! One tip. Use a new or alias screen name just in case someone sees your ad and recognizes the gift. You don’t want to use your name (or some variation of it). Recipients may very well spot you reselling their unwanted gifts. And if the item is engraved or has some element of personalization be sure to mention that or show a photo of that in the product description.

DONATE.  Hardly what I would consider a last ditch effort, donating a gift is a great way of giving the gift to a person or a place where the gift will hopefully be used accordingly. The best option is to call local charities to see if they will accept the gift you are considering donating. When all else fails, you can always donate it so the gift will hopefully be used by someone else. Call local charities to see if they’re willing to accept the type of item you’re thinking about donating. Charity Navigator is America’s Largest Charity Evaluator and is a great resource for finding organizations in your own backyard.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Kristine Scheller - December 24, 2014 Reply

I am going tiny in the very near future, I’ve donated over 65 pair shoes and most of my clothes, sold my furniture, and am near ready to move in to my 30×8 paradise.

I found this article to be exceptional and the ideas innovative. Great job! I shall use these ideas starting this season!

Shell - December 24, 2014 Reply

You could just be honest with people. Years ago, I just started sending out a group email every year. I just told the truth. I asked people not to give me any gifts. That honestly, I was wanting to live simple and didn’t want any stuff. Honestly, most presents sit around for a while and then end up going to the thrift stores. If they see something and really want to get it for me, take the money you would have spent and donate it to a charity. How I would love to hear about that. Okay, so I still get a few present here and there that end up at the thrift store. However, the majority of the people got the hint.(of YEARS of me saying it). Most will donate to a charity in my name, jus wish me a Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas, or really think of a truly useful or personal present for me. Of course, the smaller you place is, the better. Nothing like actual proof that you don’t have any room. I lived in a tiny studio apartment for a year and worked like a charm.;)

gmh - December 24, 2014 Reply

Great ideas! I have gone to giving mostly gift cards nowadays- my auntlings love Starbucks, movies, iTunes… These all say that you are thinking about them, but you aren’t burdening them with stuff.

alice h - December 26, 2014 Reply

Heard about this group this year http://www.homelesspartners.com/ Perhaps people could gift a homeless person in someone else’s name next year.

Kimberly - December 30, 2014 Reply

I’m much more fond of being honest with those who are close to me. After all..isn’t that what relationships are built on, a foundation of love and trust? As I slowly transition to a time of simplicity and less ‘shtuff’, I notice that my friends and family are curiously (even avidly!) watching what I’m doing and the results. So…I let them have a ‘list’ of options that are needed/desired, if they really want to buy. Because let’s face it…they love us and gift-giving is a form of that love, for many. Items like tea…candles…special food items…clothing…charities…perhaps a book high on my list (not many of those on my list, but an e-book gift card is nice too!) I *LOVE* the donating to the homeless cause, for example…taking gifts to a woman’s transition home also a very good idea. I agree that it can take time..people are slow to change…but with patience and perseverence, they’ll learn. Remember..most of them also live in 2500 square feet (or more). We’re changing…or living more authentically…they’re not there yet. Not everyone has it figured out 🙂

Dovie - January 1, 2015 Reply

This year I made an Amazon wishlist because we have 2 children that really get spoiled at the holidays. The only ones that listened and bought as close to the list as possible were family out of town. I’m returning a lot of either unusable or duplicate things tomorrow and at least one of the gift givers is very mad. I’m infinitely grateful for everything we received I just don’t have room for five shape sorters or kid pants that are too small due to fluff butt.

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