One of the inevitable and unenviable parts of the holidays is acquiring a bunch of gifts that clutter our lives without serving any real purpose in our daily affairs. It’s part of the way we’ve come to celebrate, a way of showing we care, but unfortunately, receiving an overabundance of gifts often creates more waste and complication than joy.

Consequently, lots of people these days are electing to go largely present free for the holidays. It’s a worthwhile transition for combatting mindless consumption and the capitalist sentiments that many feel have taken over the holidays. Even so, completely pulling out of the gift exchanging is very difficult when there are a host of aunts out there uninterested in such efforts.


In other words, nearly everyone ends up with unwanted holiday presents. So, what should we do with them?

Return Them

One of the potentially more awkward ways of dealing with unwanted gifts is point-blank returning them. Generally, this involves the gift-giver including a receipt in with the present, considerately providing the receiver with the option of going another route. If the idea is to give someone something they want, doesn’t this just make sense? It’s probably good form to start making this something standard in our own gift-giving.

Exchange Them

While not all stores will take back items without a receipt, there are many out there that do, particularly the big box stores that people often use for gifts. In this case, it’s worth noting if something on the gift at least reveals where it was purchased. Then, in this case, the store will often give store credit so that we can buy something we want or need.

Re-gift Them

Re-gifting items is something to consider; however, it’s equally worth considering whether or not the re-gift is simply passing on something that then next person won’t want either. In this case, re-gifting is just rude. On occasion, though, a gift card to a certain place or a particular present might appeal to a friend or family member. Then, by all means, re-gift. That just makes sense.


Sell Them

Another sensible option, especially for those who are eBay or Craigslist regulars, would be selling the item to someone else. This is a great idea when returning or exchanging wont’ work or there is no viable person to re-gift to. Selling an unwanted to gift will make sure that it finds a home with someone who’ll appreciate it and, bonus, a little cash for your pocket.

Donate Them

Possibly the easiest way to deal with unwanted gifts is to donate them to thrift stores. Then, the gift will reach someone who wants it, and it will provide a little funding to a worthy cause. That puts a lot of good karma into the mix. Donating stuff requires very little effort: It’s just a matter of dropping a box off at a place next time you go by.


Repurpose Them

Sometimes it’s possible to find ways to use tacky or unwanted gifts in a manner they weren’t intended. Maybe a coffee cup becomes a toothbrush holder or a sweater could become a pillowcase or any other kind of thing an imaginative person might come up with.

Swapping Them

Perhaps the most fun way to deal with unwanted holiday presents is to throw a swapping party in which close friends can get together with all their unwanted gifts in tow. Then, everyone can survey the booty and see if there is anything they might want. Afterwards, the remnants can be donated somewhere.


Obviously, the ideal for some of us would be to prevent as many unwanted gifts as possible next year. This could partially be accomplished by trying to have a gift-free Christmas. Or, for those that insist on giving something, it could be a request to donate to a favorite cause, or it might be just letting certain people know exactly what you want. If we are honest, most of us would prefer to choose stuff rather than receive surprises. Another option would be requesting experience gifts rather than physical things: tickets to this or that or an afternoon at a coffee shop together.

But, for now, it’s just too late. This year’s holidays have passed and what’s done is done, so let’s make the most of dealing with those wayward gifts stacked in the corner and get on with the new year.

If this inspires you to get more creative with your material possessions this year, check out 7 DIY Habits to Take on in the New Year, 9 Cool DIY Crafts & Uses for Mason Jar Lids, or if you are ready to start preparing gifts for the next holiday, see 7 DIY Valentine’s Gifts From Upcycled Stuff That Isn’t at All Romantic.

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