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6 Ways To Deal With Unwanted Gifts

Jun 01, 2023

Today, I am diving headfirst into the common issue of unwanted gifts.  You know the ones...the gadget that promised to revolutionize your cooking skills, the trinket from a neighbors trip to Guatemala, the perfume that makes you sneeze, the bright yellow vase that takes up your entire cupboard or the impractical punch bowl from your grandmother that you mother said you had to keep.  Receiving gifts you don’t want can be challenging to navigate. While you appreciate the thought behind the gesture, you may not have any use for the item, or it may not fit your taste or style. Here are a few tips for dealing with unwanted gifts and decluttering your space:

  1. Be gracious: First and foremost, it's essential to be courteous when receiving a gift, even if it's not something you want. Express your gratitude for the thought and effort put into the present, and thank the giver for thinking of you.
  2. Consider the intent: Think about the intentions behind the gift. Was the giver trying to express appreciation for you, or were they trying to fulfill a social obligation?  Was your mother-in-law dumping off her stuff because she didn’t know what to do with it and wanted to pass it off as a gift?  Understanding the motive behind the gift can help you be more understanding, and empathetic or might invite you to set boundaries.  You may have to be brave and tell the person that although their gifts are thoughtful, you are trying to eliminate clutter in your life, so “please drop it off at Goodwill instead of at my house.”  
  3. Decide what to do with the gift:  Once you've received it, it's up to you to decide what to do with it. If you don't want to keep it, consider donating it to a charity, giving it to someone who might appreciate it more, or selling it online.  It might be best to dispose of it if it can't be re-gifted, such as perishable items or personalized items. Nothing in the definition of a “gift” says you are not obligated to keep it.  
  4. If you feel guilty about letting it go, push that emotion away.  The person who gave you the gift felt good about giving it to you, but if it isn’t something you are interested in, it will become clutter, and there is a cost to all the “stuff.”  Clutter costs you time, money, relationships, space, and mental and physical health.  You are worth more than the gift, so make the decision once and either use it or pass it along but don’t overthink it.  
  5. Practice minimalism: If you regularly receive gifts you don't want, consider practicing minimalism. Let friends and family members know you prefer experiences over material items, or suggest specific items you need or want. Open communication can reduce the amount of clutter in your space and make gift-giving more meaningful.
  6. Focus on the relationship: Remember that the gift is just one small aspect of your relationship with the giver. Instead of focusing on the gift itself, focus on the relationship and the connection you share with the person. Cherish the time you spend together and the memories you create rather than the physical items you exchange.  If your friend knew that clutter was building up and “things” were causing you to stress, they would understand and not feel offended. 

Here are some books to help walk you through letting go. Let Go of the Guilt by Valorie Burton (Canada Link + US Link) & The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (Canada Link + US Link)

Read through all of the steps above. Then start organizing an area of your home. Scroll down for products to help you get the job done!
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