What To Do With Unwanted Christmas Gifts


We’ve all been there. Whether it be a butt-ugly Christmas sweater, itchy socks or even just something that’s so far removed from something you’d actually want you begin to question whether or not the gifter knows you at all.

There’s unfortunately many reasons you might’ve received an unwanted Christmas gift this past holiday season, and while the ever polite smile and stash might’ve saved you on the night, stuffing the unwanted present into the back of your closet and then never thinking about it again isn’t actually going to make it go away.

So, what are you to do?

Well thankfully, throwing it in the trash isn’t your only option – and shouldn’t even be on your list of options for a brand new still-wrapped-in-plastic product – but that rant is a whole other article.

For now, let’s just focus on what your other non-polluting-the-planet options are. There might be more than you think!

  1. Re-Gift It

While some may see this as some sort of gift-giving sin, it’s really one of the simplest options you have. Ask your friends and family to see if anyone else in your life would like/use/appreciate the gift you were given more. If  so, give it to them! And just like that, it’s problem solved. You don’t even have to wait until the next holiday season!

In fact, if you plan on having a party or get-together where the original gifter will be attending, I’d recommend not re-gifting in front of them. You can either give it to the person you know privately, for their birthday or even just on a random day of the week. Who wouldn’t love to get a present (they actually want) on a random Tuesday?


  1. Donate It

This is sort of a branch out of the first option. If you don’t personally know anybody who would like the gift you received, see if you’re able to donate it to a second-hand store like Value Village or a charity.

This way, somebody out there will get to use/enjoy the item, even if you didn’t get to see it. Do some research into what second-hand stores and charities are around your area and what items they allow to be donated. You might be surprised to learn it isn’t all food and clothes!


  1. Up-Cycle It

This will obviously depend on what the gift was, but if you’re able to, see if you can up-cycle it! What I mean by this is see if you’re able to take the less-than-stellar gift and turn it into something you’d actually use.

Whether it just needs a paint job to match your aesthetic or a bit of minor sewing to get it to fit ‘just right’, up-cycling is a great way to breathe new life into any item.

You also don’t have to keep the item as whatever it was when gifted. Again, this depends on what the item is, but for example if it’s some sort of electronic, see if you’re able to save the charging cable for your other ones or the headphones, etc.

Or if it’s something like a dresser, maybe you could reuse the drawers for some other storage you have, or reuse the wood  to create some shelves, or even those spin-y wheels that the drawers use to slide in and out, or the bolts holding all the pieces together or…

Well, hopefully you get the idea. If you can’t up-cycle it as is, pick it apart to see if there’s pieces of it you can use for other objects/projects.


  1. Sell It

Obviously you’ll want to decide on this option before you go picking it apart to see if you can up-cycle it, but selling the item is also a very handy and helpful option to remember.

There are over 7 billion people on the planet, so chances are good somebody out there needs/wants what you have and there’s also a good chance they’re willing to pay money to get their hands on it.

If you think you could get an unwanted gift off your hands and make a little profit off of it? That’s about as win-win as things get.


  1. Tell The Truth

I know this isn’t a very popular opinion – especially when it comes to the holiday season, for some reason – but just tell the person the truth!

If you found out someone you gifted something to ended up giving it away, or selling it basically immediately after you gave it to them (instead of say, 5 years down the line when they no longer need/use it), wouldn’t you feel… disappointed? Sad? Embarrassed? Possibly even a little bit angry? If they just told you in the first place, you wouldn’t have bought it for them! Now you’re feeling like you wasted some money because they didn’t like the gift. Right?


So why are you going to do that to somebody else?

If you don’t like something, you are under absolutely zero obligation to keep it to yourself. Tell the gifter! This will not only be a good way to not have to take something you don’t like home with you, but can also open the door for a conversation about things you do like/want, which will (hopefully) lead to better gifts in the future!

Nobody (or at least, nobody I’ve ever met) want to think of themselves as being a bad gifter, but the person will never know their gifts suck if you never tell them!

Sure they might be a little hurt at first, but just be sure you let them know you absolutely appreciate the gesture of the gift, you just don’t particularly like that item. And you know what? Tell them why! If it’s something not very serious, like it’s the wrong colour or size, chances are good you can probably get it exchanged for the right colour/size.

If it’s something more serious like it reminds you of a deceased relative… well you maybe don’t have to tell them that exactly, but you can tell them it reminds you of a personal tragedy, or you associate negative feelings with it, so you’d rather not have it in your house.

Most people who care enough about you to go to the trouble to give you a gift will also care about your well-being, so if you tell them something like that, they’ll most likely get embarrassed and apologize profusely – maybe even swear to ‘make it up to you’ by getting you something else later.

If they’re one of those people who just give a gift for the sake of saying they did – instead of because they want to – you can also politely tell them you don’t want a gift. Or if that would be weird (why did you only tell Aunt Sheila not to get you anything?) see if you can ask them for a gift card or homemade good, instead.

Are they into Christmas baking or crafty? Great! You’d rather have some homemade cookies or a cool, handmade card. They might be relieved to not have to buy for one more person, and it’ll give them a chance to share what they love with their loved ones. (That’ll also give you something to talk to them about next year)

And, if it’s baking, it’ll save you from having to make/buy your own.

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