What To Do With Unwanted Gifts

Declutter Unwanted Gifts - What to do with unwanted presents and gifts.

The moment you open that beautifully packaged gift and realize, urgh. You don't want it!

Apart from the disappointment of not loving your present - you now have to find something to do with it. Fear not! I have some ideas for you!

What NOT to do!

Before we get to dealing with the unwanted gifts I just wanted to look at a few things NOT to do.

I am sure I don't have to tell you to receive graciously and not start complaining and whining. That is a sure way to never get gifted anything again. It isn't always the gifters fault. I gave my nephew an iTunes gift voucher every Christmas for YEARS before I realized that he didn't have an iPhone! Oops! Ok. Maybe it is the gifter's fault. But be gracious anyway.

And then there are these faux pas too:

  1. Gift it back to the gifter. The only scenario where I think this might be appropriate is if you know them really well - and know (for sure!) that they will appreciate it. I once received some little bird sculptures from my Mam. She LOVED them and was so excited to give them to me. Me? Urmm. Let's just say they weren't my favorite. After a year I gifted them back with a little note saying they thought it was time they came to live with her. She was really happy to see them (she really did love them!). Otherwise, if you are going to re-gift, don't get sloppy and send it back where it came from. 
  2. Repurpose it obviously. Yes, I know that hand-knit sweater is Ugly. But using it to line the dog bed is not kind if the knitter pops in for coffee on a regular basis. You can re-purpose it but be discreet.
  3. Live with it. You hate it.  Do not think 'oh well, it is useful'.  If you don't like it, why on earth would you make it part of your daily routine. Surround yourself with things you love and don't allow things you hate a part of your life. It will niggle at you every time you use it. Honestly, you deserve better.
  4. Store it. So seriously, the place for it is NOT the back of the closet/garage/loft. You are just delaying the inevitable. Declutter it now - you will thank yourself later.

Which brings us to... the actually handling of it :)

Ideas For Dealing With Unwanted Gifts

1. Return

If you know the person well enough to ask for details, or they have been considerate enough to attach a receipt, then returning the item is a no brainer. Most stores extend their return period over the holidays (if you can figure out where it came from). Whether they will take it without a receipt is debatable - but it is worth asking! 

Amazon have a return policy for gifts - you can return it even if you didn't buy it BUT you still need to know the order number. So no discreet returns!  Here is Amazon's policy:

If you're the gift recipient, Amazon will process your refund as an Amazon Gift Card after your return is received. The Gift Card will be added directly to the Amazon account you use to generate your return from the Returns Support Centre. If you're the gift giver, you'll receive a refund to the original payment method.

If the unwanted gift IS an Amazon gift card then keep reading for ideas for what to do with it! 

2. ReGift

Somebody, somewhere, would have loved to have received that gift! Really, I know! But it is true. 

Take a good look and see if you know exactly who would appreciate it. Then all you need to do is rewrap and gift!

My Mam has a 'bottom drawer' where she keeps gifts that can be re-gifted. If it has got potential then hang onto it. It might be the perfect Secret Santa, Stocking Filler or Gift Exchange item.


Don't store it away somewhere hidden  - it is too easy to forget about it. Make a specific place where you keep giftable items so they are always there to inspire you.

3. Donate

A trip to the thrift store/charity shop might be in order.

But let's get imaginative. How about donating for a Raffle, or Tombola stall? A worthy cause might be just the place for your present.

The first time I ever won anything in a raffle it was a Leek (yes, the vegetable kind!). But Local fund raisers are usually very happy to have your valuable gift (except perhaps vegetable ones). Try the local school, sports club or toddler group. They are all usually grateful for a raffle donation. If you know they will ask you for a prize donation for their summer fete then just tuck your gift away until then.

If your gift is a book then you can 'release it into the wild' via BookCrossing. I LOVE doing this. Just register your book for free, add a label, and then release it into the wild (leave it somewhere!) for a stranger to enjoy. Alternatively, public libraries will often accept book donations

If your gift is quite small then there is no reason to not release it in the same way as a Random Act of Kindness. Wrap it well and leave a small note saying it is gifted to the finder. Gifts vouchers/cards are perfect for this. My favorite place to leave these are in the pocket of a coat in the thrift store.


Random Acts of Kindness - donate unwanted gifts

CAUTION: With increased security needed in public places please do not release your gift somewhere likely to cause a panic, such as an airport. If in doubt, ask an official.

4. Sell

Turn your gift into some cash so you can buy something else you actually like. There are plenty of places to sell unwanted items. Think ebay, gumtree, craigslist. 

You've got this! 

5. Repurpose or Upcycle

This is a fun way of dealing with unwanted gifts. Get imaginative and turn it into something else. If it is clothing you can re-fashion it. Most items can be upcycled. Or just use it for a completely different purpose. 

Here are some ideas to get you started-

  1. Hats make good storage containers, especially for things like cosmetics. Just turn them upside down. Add handles and you have a bag!
  2. Shawls make good sofa throws. Dye them to match your decor.
  3. Sweaters can be made beautiful (See what Katwise does with them and hint: she sells patterns).
  4. T-shirts can be made into string grocery bags. 

For upcyling items, Youtube is your friend. There are hundreds of videos. I could recommend one but I don't want to spoil your fun!

6. Swop

Are all  your friends moaning about unwanted presents too? Hold a swop party. Add this idea as a twist to your annual New Year's Eve bash (but only if the gift giving relative won't be there!)

7. Bin

So you have been through the options above and still are in possession of the gift?

It is time to bin it. Harsh, I know. But do you really want it hanging around your psyche - or your home? You will feel so much lighter without its presence weighing you down. Just let it go. This habit will make a huge difference to your decluttering efforts. 

Take a deep breath and head for the nearest trash can!

Want to remember this? Save this 'Declutter Unwanted Gifts' article to your favorite organization Pinterest board.

Decluter and Organize - what to do with unwanted gifts

Unwanted Gifts