Unwanted Gifts: What To Do With Gifts You Don’t Want After Christmas

When the holidays are over, what to do with gifts you don’t want could be a pressing concern, as unwanted gifts simply create more clutter in your home. The Yuletide season is a time for gratitude and joy, along with giving and sharing the graces that one has been granted throughout the year. Most people are given gifts from the goodness of friends and family. To be at the receiving end of any kind of present is always something to be grateful for. And while all gifts and the thought that goes into them are appreciated, sometimes you may receive gifts that do not fit your needs or suit your preferences.

It’s easy to feel like the Grinch when you don’t like a present that you’re given in the spirit of the season. However, every Christmas, many people receive gifts that they don’t like, so take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Perhaps, you don’t need the gift because you have one already, or you appreciate it, but you know you will never maximize it because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.

You don’t have to tell whoever gave you the gift that you don’t want it. You may feel like a bad person for not loving the present, but all you really need to do is ask yourself what to do with gifts you don’t want.

Remember that you don’t have to feel obliged to hold on to things that you don’t love and need. If you won’t use the Christmas gift, it will only create clutter that weighs down your life. More stuff and more clutter just makes it harder to keep a tidy home. That’s not exactly the best way to start the new year, so it’s best to let unwanted gifts go. Research shows that clutter problems are also associated with stress and overall dissatisfaction with life. Thus, graciously accept the gift and the good intentions that go with it. However, write a thank you note and don’t feel bad for thinking about what to do with gifts you don’t want. You can send the present on its merry way out of your home. It feels good to know that someone thought of you, even if you don’t fancy their gift.

Melinda Massie, the owner of a professional home organization company in Texas, says, “Letting go of things you don’t need or love has zero reflection on your feelings towards the gift giver, so let that gift go guilt-free.”

If you’re still not sure about what to do with these unwanted gifts, keep on reading. Here are some helpful suggestions on what to do with gifts that don’t resonate with your life.

Top Tip on What to Do With Gifts You Don’t Want: Donate

When dealing with an unwanted gift, donating is a good option because you can make other people smile. As the saying goes: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Oftentimes, donating would guarantee that your item is placed in the hands of someone who genuinely needs or wants it, but may not necessarily be able to afford it. That said, when donating, it is important to ensure that the gift is in good and decent condition. Make sure the items you’re giving remain undamaged or unused.

If you receive an unwanted gift, instead of worrying about what to do with gifts you don’t want, take action. Don’t force yourself to use it if it won’t add value to your life. Instead, keep it aside in pristine condition to be donated when the time is right. Additionally, it is important to consider your recipient. If you want to donate clothing, you may want to look into women’s shelters and retirement homes. If you are donating children’s gifts, an orphanage or a children’s hospital may be suitable for your cause. According to a study on the benefits of philanthropy, the act of donating has a positive effect on the giver’s health, helping improve mood and promote longevity. So doing this is a win for you and the recipient!

Find a Way to Repurpose the Gift

Repurposing unwanted gifts is a great way to personalize items to better suit your needs. Instead of feeling bad and lamenting over what to do with gifts you don’t want, let your creative juices flow. Maybe you got a dress that was too loose for your taste. In that case, you can cut it up into a two-piece set. Having it altered means you can have it tapered to your body, so you’ll get an outfit that you love.

Another example is morphing material gifts into something more usable. For example, you can turn small vases and mugs into desk pencil holders. If you receive a t-shirt that is too big for you, you can use it as pajamas. A perfume you don’t like could be left in your guest bathroom as room spray. There are so many options and possibilities to turn something you don’t like into one you actually do like or can use.

Don’t Feel Guilty: Return or Exchange the Gift

Returning a gift means returning to the store the gift was purchased and not to the gift giver. This is easy to do with proof of purchase like a gift receipt. If you don’t have a receipt, return it as soon as possible before the item goes on sale. You don’t want the lowest price for the item. You can aim for store credit or exchange the item for something you like. Different stores have different return policies and deadlines so check on the details.

It would be kinder not to let the gift giver know that you’re returning the gift. It could hurt the feelings of the one who gave the present. However, some people may feel very close to the giver, so they could let them know gently about their preferences. Being forthright with someone you’re close to could help you avoid going through this in the next gift-giving celebration. Moreover, it will ensure that your loved one doesn’t waste their hard-earned money, especially in these tough times when it’s harder to afford nice gifts.

Regift any Unwanted Gifts

When you’re worried about what to do with gifts you don’t want, regifting is a viable option. However, this method has always been a point of contention for many gift-givers and receivers alike with some saying that it’s tacky. They assert that it shows a lack of etiquette and is not appropriate because the gift feels like an afterthought.

On the other hand, many people also believe that regifting is a great and sustainable way to use unwanted gifts. For example, you received a scented body lotion but you have allergies, or you received a sweater that doesn’t fit.

Did you receive a lot of unwanted gifts this Christmas? You can keep these unwanted gifts in a regifting box in your closet, and give them out throughout the year when you’re invited to celebrations such as birthdays. Regifting ensures that items make their way into the lives of those who want and will appreciate them. It will also help save you money.

Of course, when choosing to regift, make sure the item is appropriate for the recipient. Don’t just choose an item out of your regifting box at random. And finally, keep the regifting a secret from the original giver. This decreases the potential tension or awkwardness that may arise.

Be sure not to regift if the person who originally gave it to you is attending the same birthday party;

Make a Profit From the Gift

Some may say it’s tacky to earn money from a gift that’s heartily shared. However, once a gift is given to you, it’s completely yours. This means you have the power to do whatever you wish with the gift. There’s nothing wrong in earning a buck from something you know you’ll never use. You can put up the gift on the following sites:

  • eBay
  • Amazon Marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • Poshmark
  • BuyMyTronics
  • Facebook Marketplace

Just make sure the person who gave you the present doesn’t see your listing! When you’re wondering what to do with gifts you don’t want, selling them discreetly will help you dispose of the items while earning something in return. There’s no shame in that with record-high inflation and an economy in recession.  

Throw a Post-Christmas Gift Swap Party

In a dilemma over what to do with gifts you don’t want? One of the best ways to address the problem is to host a swap party. Invite your family and friends to a fun shindig where you can exchange gifts you don’t fancy. However, host this party with ground rules. State that no one is allowed to feel upset if they see a present they gave someone.

Swapping out items is your chance to have a gift that you like or need. You can also use this as an opportunity to barter. For instance, if you see an item that you like, you can offer to do services if they don’t like to swap it out with the gift you brought. Doing an activity like this is a win for all! You get to find new homes for presents that you don’t like and welcome stuff that you will actually use.

Keep It as a Potential Family Heirloom

Although letting the gift go is the most viable option to have a clutter-free home and ensure you only have items that spark joy, there are times when your best option is to keep unwanted gifts. This is especially true when the gift is from someone close to you, or is a hand-me-down piece from an older generation, so it holds sentimental value. Maybe it was a ring that your mother carefully chose from her collection, or an art piece that your relatives bought years ago. These gifts may not necessarily suit your taste, but since they were heartily given by someone dear, it’s hard to cast them aside.  

In this case, you could try to make room for the gift in your life, and maybe even think of it as a family heirloom with a history that you can pass onto future generations. These have special value and are often priceless. Or, you may simply recognize that though you have no use for the gift now, you may have a use for it in the future. For instance, the art piece may not have a place in your small rented apartment but could fit when you eventually buy a house.

Get to Know Your Loved Ones to Avoid Unwanted Gifts

The suggestions above are just some of the ways you can manage unwanted gifts this Christmas. But remember that even if you do not like a certain gift, it is always great to show appreciation, if not for the item, at least for the effort, thought, and love that went into getting it for you. If you would like to mitigate the possibility of future unwanted gift occurrences, it may also be a great idea to allow people to get to know you better, so they know just what to get you or what you might like.

For people you are already close to, you may want to exchange Christmas wish lists to avoid a guessing game of each others’ preferences. There are also many different ways to drop subtle hints when Christmas is around the corner. As the adage goes, ask and you shall receive. Just remember to be kind and gracious about it. More importantly, do not forget to give thanks for the gift and share the same love and kindness that you have been bestowed.

And as a gift giver, you must also strive hard to get to know people in your life, so you can give them gifts that they will truly appreciate and use. Alternatively, you can also choose a gift that keeps on giving like a CircleDNA test, which provides the recipient with knowledge of their ancestry, health risks, nutrition guidelines, and exercise plans based on their genetics.


  1. 9 Things to do with gifts you don’t love and can’t return (Your Tango) https://www.yourtango.com/2014248746/things-do-gifts-you-dont-love-and-cant-return
  2. Tidying Up: Good for the Aging Brain (Jeanne Sorrell) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32219461/
  3. The potential health benefits of philanthropy (Antoine Vaccaro) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25630087/

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