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6 Useful Ideas for Unwanted Gifts

unwanted gifts GoodGirlGoneGreen

One thing is for sure this holiday season: you will receive at least one gift you don’t really like. Maybe a t-shirt you’ll never wear, a book you’ll never read, or a bottle of perfume better suited for Aunt Edna. We politely thank the giver and slyly look for a receipt tucked away in the box. If you’re given a gift you’re more than happy to part with this holiday, here are some useful suggestions for making the best of an ugly sweater situation.

  1. Return it. If your gift came with a receipt, you’re in luck! You should have no problem returning it for something that better suits you. And even without a receipt, if you know where it was purchased, you can still try to take it back for store credit.
  2. Donate it. One person’s trash indeed may be another’s treasure. There are a lot of agencies who would be happy to take your unwanted gifts off your hands, whether to sell in their non-profit thrift stores or to use for the homeless or less fortunate.
  3. Sell it. Have you noticed all the new apps popping up that offer you the chance to make a few extra dollars by selling your unwanted items? Letgo and Offerup are two that have recently become popular. Letgo seems to be the more popular of the two, but that could depend largely on where you live. Craigslist has been around for a long time and is also really popular. If you want to list from your phone, though, you’ll have to download a third-party app. Craigslist doesn't have its own app, but CPlus (for Craigslist) is the most popular of those.
  4. Regift it. Most of the items we receive for Christmas come in brand new condition, so there’s no shame in rewrapping it and giving it to someone else.
  5. Swap it. Organize a post-Christmas party with your friends and swap your unwanted gifts for someone else’s. There’s a Meetup group I read about that organized a huge party and had over 50 women show up with their unwanted scarves, candles, oven mitts, and bath products. Everyone went home happy.
  6. Keep it. If you’re nervous about getting rid of the salt and pepper shakers your sister-in-law gave you in the event she later asks about them, it’s okay to put them away in a drawer until her next visit. Sometimes you just have to think of the giver and allow them the joy of seeing you use their gift. Unless it’s a fruitcake. I’m convinced the late comedian Johnny Carson was right when he said, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

What do you plan on doing with your new ugly sweater?

For more great ideas surrounding the holidays and how to enjoy yourself while being eco-conscious, also check out these blogs:

  1. 6 Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Holidays
  2. 11 Zero-Waste Holiday Season Ideas
  3. How To Create Less Waste Over the Holidays
  4. 5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Tree Ideas

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Reader Interactions


  1. Hikermom says

    I usually either return it, regift, or donate. I would feel way too guilty just throwing it away:)

  2. Karen says

    I’ve done all of these things at one time or another. Lately it seems I’ve been given what I consider just horrendous things, no where even close to my sense of taste. But they were given to me by neighbors that are often in our home, they were chosen with love, and given with obvious pride. So I display them even though I don’t really like them in the least. I remind myself that people and relationships are far more important than style. And over time the items that I formerly (though secretly) disdained grow on me because they begin to represent to me people in my life that I love, and who have enriched my life by their presence. They won’t always be my neighbors. One day we will live elsewhere, or the gifts in question will have completed their lifespan. But my friends will never have memories of being embarrassed or irritated by a gift not appreciated.

    But in cases where the giver will never know, I appreciate your getting the word out about the alternatives to throwing things away. It shocks me the new or still-in-very-good-condition things I see in the dumpster here in my neighborhood.

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