What to do with unwanted gifts

Tips to avoid awkward moments and collecting unwelcome clutter
Getty images

If you’ve been working hard over the past months to create a more mindful home that’s free of clutter, only to find yourself now surrounded by a collection of unwanted Christmas gifts, don’t despair.

You’re not alone. According to data by Green Villages Sydney, more than 1.7 million Australians receive unwanted gifts each year at Christmas, but if you start by simply thinking about the gift in terms of the meaning behind the giving, this goes a long way towards finding a place for it – and that doesn’t have to be in your home.

What to do with unwanted gifts
(Credit: Getty images)

We turned to our latest interiors organising crush, Marie Kondo for a more wholesome view. On her blog, Marie has a three-step approach that ticks boxes of friendship, manners and thoughtful waste reduction.

1. Open the gift straight away

To fully experience the care taken to choose and wrap it.

2. Remove the packaging

Go here to see what can be recycled, however check your local council website to see what they will accept.

3. Start using the gift right now

This way you can experience the gift as if was meant to be given, without feelings of guilt or dismissal of the sentiment behind it.

“The true purpose of a present is to be received.”

Marie Kondo
What to do with unwanted gifts
(Credit: Getty images)

If possible, it can be best to explain to the giver at the point of receiving the gift that it’s not to your taste, or that you already have one just like it. Etiquette expert Zarife Hardy, director of The Australian School of Etiquette, has some great tips for politely declining or returning a gift here.

Another option is to keep your gift in its packaging with a view to gifting it to someone else, but make sure you unwrap and inspect it completely before doing so – in case there’s a card tucked inside. While Jerry Seinfeld may disagree, ‘regifting’ is a perfectly acceptable practice that doesn’t necessarily take away from the concept of the gift being given in the first place.

If you do choose to do away with the gift, consider where it will end up – as a new item, it has the potential to be resold so take care when packing it and dropping it off to your local op shop or charity.


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