Dealing with unwanted gifts in an eco friendly way
Unwanted gifts – ways to deal with them
Is it ok to get rid of unwanted gifts? And what’s the most eco friendly way to pass on these unwanted items?
It’s lovely to receive gifts from people. It is a kind and thoughtful gesture to show they are thinking of you. And it often involves them spending their precious time and money on finding or making a gift.
Sometimes though, a gift is something that you really don’t like, need or want. And there are better ways to deal with a gift than throwing it into the rubbish.
Is it ok to give away a gift?
Getting rid of a gift can come with uncomfortable feelings. Is it bad manners, rude or ungrateful to re-gift or donate a present?
There is the guilt that comes with not wanting to keep a gift that you don’t want and will probably not use or enjoy. But that guilt will not turn the unwanted gift into something you actually want or need.
I think it is ok to move on an unwanted gift. If the situation is reversed, and I have given a gift that the receiver didn’t like, I would not be offended if they gave it away. And I would prefer the gift was dealt with in an eco friendly way, rather than end up in landfill.
What is the value of gift giving?
It can help if you think about the act of giving and receiving gifts as the important part of the transaction, rather than the actual item itself.
This can help you to feel more comfortable with dealing with an unwanted gift.
Unwanted gifts add to clutter in your home
Any items gifted to you that are unwanted are just more clutter. It’s ok to say no to more clutter, especially if you are actively trying to declutter or life a more minimalist life.
Here are a few ideas on what to do with unwanted gifts.
1. Offer the gift back to the gift giver
This might be suitable for something you have been given but already have at home. Examples of this could be duplicates of homewares, where you don’t really need another version of the item. In this case, the gift may sit unused in a cupboard, whereas if you offer it back, the giver could give it to someone else.
It could be a bit uncomfortable to talk so honestly with a gift giver though, so I can understand why people don’t often take this option!
2. Return the gift to the store, for a replacement or store credit
Sometimes the gift giver will include a receipt with the gift, especially for items like clothing that could be the wrong size or fit.
In this situation, it is easy to return the gift to the store, and replace it with a more suitable item. Usually there will be a timeframe for returning items, so make sure you return the gift as soon as possible.
Some stores will give you a store credit, so you could purchase a new item at a later date, which could be more useful to you.
3. Donate the gift to charity
Donating a gift to charity will help them to raise funds for their cause. Plus it is great for their shoppers to find a brand new or unusual item:
One person’s trash is another one’s treasure!
You probably need to consider whether the gift giver is likely to see the gift if they also shop at charity stores. If so, you might want to donate to a charity shop that isn’t one they usually visit.
Another idea is to donate to a homeless shelter or women’s refuge, especially items like toiletries, socks, and treat food.
Read my article on What charity shops really want you to donate for other ideas of items to donate to charity shops.
4. Regift the item
One way to pass on the unwanted gift is to give it to another person. Some people may feel that this isn’t acceptable, so it’s not for everyone. I’m personally happy to regift an item to someone specific who would love it, although I would actually tell them that it is a regift and that I thought they would like it.
This is also a good option for times like workplace Secret Santa gifts, where you can gift something anonymously! Just as long as the original person who gave you the gift is not in your Secret Santa group – that could be too awkward if the gift is distinct or identifiable.
5. Sell the gift
You can sell unwanted gifts via online selling platform like Ebay or Trade Me (New Zealand based selling website). This does take time and money to list an item, so you may not consider it worthwhile.
6. Keep the gift
Sometimes, you may decide to accept that you need to keep the gift, at least for a while.
It might not be worth the feelings of guilt or any repercussions in relationships if you did get rid of the unwanted gift.
6. Keep the gift for a while, then donate
This is a suitable option for things like toys that you may not have bought for your children, but they are keen to play with for a time.
When the children have got over the initial novelty, the item could be donated (talk about it with your children first though! It’s not very kind for toys to ‘disappear’ in the night).
How to Avoid Unwanted Gifts in the Future
A few months before Christmas or any birthdays, you could have an upfront conversation with friends and relatives about gift giving. It may be hard to be so honest, but it could help you all going forward.
Include in the conversation that you love the kind and generous spirit of the gift giver. And that you don’t want to add to the stuff you already have, especially if you are trying to declutter or live a more minimalist lifestyle.
You could suggest that you would prefer a non-physical gift, like a voucher for an experience or event. Also, you can tell them that you don’t need them to buy you a gift at all, and they could spend their money on themselves instead.