The Aftermath of Christmas: What to do with Unwanted Gifts


We’ve all been there–Aunt Bessie’s fruitcake, Grandpa Fred’s book on medieval toe-nail cutting customs, Mom’s “absolutely beautiful” sweater that’s just “perfect” for you, etc.  Gifts given in the right spirit are a blessing in and of themselves, and it is important to keep the giver’s intentions at heart, but, there is no sense in cluttering up your home with unusable items.  The question is, what to do with unwanted gifts?  Here are a few ideas:

1. Regift: Save an unwanted gift until an opportunity rolls around for you to give it to someone who would appreciate and enjoy it.  I am a hearty believer of regifting (though, to appease any relatives who may read this blog, I haven’t had to in a few years!).  🙂

2. Repurpose:  Many of the gifts you receive can be used in creative ways (perhaps not intended by the items’ progenitors).  Turn an ugly sweater into a Christmas Tree skirt, or a bed for your pet, or a foot warmer.  An unwanted book can be transformed into a hiding place for money, or spray-painted on the outside and used decoratively.  Repurposing gifts honors the spirit in which they were given (and allows you to whip out the item should the giver ever wonder what became of it!).

3. Donate:  If you can’t regift or repurpose an unwanted gift, the third-best option is to donate it.  This benefits both the charity and you (soul and tax-wise).  This is an especially appealing option for food or other perishable gifts you receive.  Local homeless shelters and other organizations will happily accept your donation, and your unwanted gift may become someone else’s welcome one.  (I do not endorse giving crap to homeless shelters and other charities — just items that you personally have no use for.)

4. Exchange: This is an especially good idea if you received unwanted beauty items.  I’m pretty particular about the beauty products I use, and receiving neon pink lipstick would force me to do something aside from wearing it.  Cosmetics and beauty products in general are great for regifting if you can do so within a reasonable amount of time (before they expire), but if you receive something truly outrageous, try to exchange it before resorting to other more drastic measures.

5. Barter:  Got your third mp3 player of the season?  Consider bartering it for something else.  Craigslist and other such sites are great resources for trading what you’ve got for what you want.  This is especially true if you are offering a valuable item in exchange for professional services.

6. Sell:  I admit, this can be a tacky option to consider; but, if you are forced to choose between letting something collect dust or selling it, the latter is definitely better.  Of course, don’t rule out donating something, but if you need cash more than the gift, selling isn’t the worst thing you can do.

The bottom line is that even if you received a gift you will not use, there are options you have.  Just don’t forget to be grateful, even for something bizzare!

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