What To Do With All Those Gifts You Hate

The blur of the past couple weeks may have littered your home with useless trinkets others gave you in exchange for the equally useless stuff you gave them. If you had wanted any of these things you would have bought them yourself, but you’re stuck with them until you manage to simplify and declutter.

Free From Broke offers advice for getting rid of gifts you don’t want, assuming you don’t have receipts that will allow you to return them:

* Set them aside for next year. If you were lucky, gift-givers didn’t stare you down, waiting for you to unbox their wares in front of them in faux-elation. If the packaging remains intact, you can just sock it away in the closet and give it to someone in a different social circle. If it came in a gift bag, you won’t even need to re-wrap it.

* Sell them. Hold a garage sale or peddle your wares online. Be aware that the choice could backfire if the giver finds out what you’re doing.

* Give it away. You could toss it in the garbage, but maybe you can help someone else get some use out of it. Abandon it at the table at work where people leave doughnuts. Post an online ad and offer to give it away for free. Or donate it to a nonprofit such as Goodwill.

The Art of Getting Rid of Unwanted Gifts [Free From Broke]


Edit Your Comment

  1. BrownLeopard says:

    …or post it to your local Freecycle…or free section on Craigslist

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Right. The third suggestion on the list.

    • Ihmhi says:

      I hate Freecycle. I signed up for it, and no matter what I do – hit unsubscribe, return a blank e-mail, BLOCK the address, etc. I can not get the damn e-mails to stop coming into my inbox. ;_;

      • webweazel says:

        Sign up for the DIGEST rather than individual emails. The digest contains ALL the emails for a period of, say, one day. These can be individually blocked, as they all have the same general address, like a newsletter, or you can adjust your settings further to receive ZERO emails from the site.

  2. maxhobbs says:

    Wow, that is their advice? Re-gift, sell or give away. whodathunkit?

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    So really, the only logical options for a gift you can’t return are:

    – Sell it (I’d go the ebay route)
    – Regift it
    – Throw it away

    Not realy any kind of new ideas here.

  4. Cat says:

    Give them to people you hate?

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I can’t access the link, so maybe it’s on there, but is there a reputable way to convert gift cards to something else? I feel bad about it, but we got gift cards to restaurants we don’t go to. I’d give them to friends, but I don’t think they go to those restaurants, either.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Yeah, it does mention that you can sell them for a variable percentage (places like Target get higher percentages than restaurants, I believe) of their value at a place like Plastic Jungle.

    • Amp says:

      Start up Cats4Giftcards?

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      There is in Canada– http://cardswap.ca — that lets you sell gift cards for places you’ll never visit for cash. Of course, what you’ll get from them depends on how popular the establishment the gift card it came from is. Apple Store? Win! Tim Hortons? Win! Joe Shmoe’s Discount Emporium? Maybe not so win.

  6. George4478 says:

    There’s a local charity that provides food/clothing for the homeless and will take damned near anything for a donation. I keep some boxes around the house and make one of my periodic donations when enough of them get full. Christmas always sees some new items added to the stack.

    It’s a win-win. I get to declutter some of the house by helping out some local folks on hard times.

  7. Costner says:

    Or you can do what my brother does. He stockpiles all of the unwanted gifts – in their original unopened packaging – in a closet and waits for guests to find five years worth of unopened Christmas gifts as they are looking for additional blankets to make the bed.

    Why would someone do this you ask? Who knows. He never said he didnt like the items – in some cases he actually asked for the items but what he got may have been the wrong model number, wrong color, wrong size, or whatever.

    Needless to say nobody buys him gifts anymore.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Sounds like his technique is 50x more useful than anything this article offered.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      My guess is she did not celebrate Christmas due to (un)religious reasons but felt she would be fired if she said something if the majority of the workplace were Christian.

      • FrugalFreak says:

        oops, this reply is for one post down.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Kind of doesn’t work, though. Gift giving during the holidays isn’t limited to Christians. It’s just a nice thing to do during a time in which a lot of people, religious or not, celebrate with gift giving. I know many people who don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but as a family or social tradition. This lady was just rude to not express any gratitude.

  8. Costner says:

    This also reminds me of an employee who used to work for my father. Every year he would give her a Christmas gift (as he did for all of his employees), and she never thanked him or said a word. She worked for him for around 15 years, and one day she decided to retire.

    She packed her things and left, and when they went to clean out her desk and get it ready for a replacement employee they found her bottom desk drawers were full of every Christmas gift he ever bought for her. Unopened. Not only did she not open them, but she didn’t even bother to take them with her when she left.

    I bet she was a blast to have around. A real warm-and-fuzzy employee I’m sure.

    • ohiomensch says:

      Maybe she was a Jehovah Witness or something. Do they even celebrate anything? We had a vegetarian who used to sell his turkey and ham to other employees.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        People give turkeys and hams as gifts?

        • Charmander says:

          Yes. One of my previous employers bought all of her employees a turkey at Christmas time from the grocery next to her business. It was a nice gesture, although I was a vegetarian at the time so didn’t take one.

          • HogwartsProfessor says:

            Gah! My former employers used to give us a Butterball gift certificate at Thanksgiving. I don’t like turkey, and I live alone, so I won’t cook an entire bird for myself or eat one. So I would give my certificate to another employee who fed a large crowd at the holiday.

            This year, instead of turkey certificates we got ones from a local grocery store, good for anything in the store, doesn’t expire for a year. MUCH better! I’m saving mine in case I’m short one week and need a little dab of groceries.

    • tinyninja says:

      I agree that she should have thanked him, but I’m not a fan of boilerplate presents from bosses–or anybody who doesn’t know me very, very well.

      I had a boss that used to “reward” us by letting us pick out crap from her present basket. It was all stuff from the dollar bins at Target, which we knew, because Target was in the same plaza as us. She’d get mean if you didn’t get all excited and gush over the grand opportunity you were being given. I’m not saying your father was the same way, but having to react positively to a gift your boss gave you is kind of like having to laugh at the bosses jokes.

      Also, she probably didn’t want a gift. She wanted a raise for her good work, not false workplace intimacy. Or the gift was something she was openly allergic to or didn’t like and your father just wasn’t listening.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But she didn’t even open the gifts, so how would she know she was allergic? And boilerplate kinds of gifts are totally fine as long as they’re in good taste. My boss gives everyone chocolates. Even if you don’t like chocolate, you’re bound to find someone who does, so it’s not like you are losing out or the gift was a bad one.

      • Costner says:

        I can’t really tell you what the gifts were as they varied from year to year. They weren’t anything special because my father had to buy them with his own money, and he had to buy one for each of the 25 or so employees who worked for him.

        I don’t think he ever cared if someone thanked him, but it was a friendly business. Many of the employees were friends and everyone got along except this one old woman who pretty much just did her job and didn’t interact with anyone else.

        It wasn’t like he bought these gifts instead of giving raises, and it wasn’t like he expected anything in return. He bought them because he wanted to show them he appreciated their efforts and this was from him directly rather than something approved by the board or bought by the company. The fact she never even opened them pretty much ruled out an allergy – it just boiled down to her not being a friendly person.

        I remember driving by her house as a kid. It was painted black and the curtains were always closed. She really never wanted anything to do with anybody – she stuck to herself and didn’t interact with anyone. That is her choice of course, but I found it odd that she never mentioned that she preferred to not get gifts… if she had my dad wouldn’t have kept buying them, but nobody knew she never opened them until she retired.

        The whole thing was just odd.

        • Jane_Gage says:

          Kudos to your father for not firing the boarderline personality disorder wack job. He was charitable in spirit.

        • Wolfbird says:

          People with schizoid personality disorder are weird. Just leave them alone, they’re usually quite balanced but they just happen to secretly hate everyone (I know that’s kind of hard to accept).

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      Wow, not even a thank you? Tacky. As someone who has a boss who doesn’t think to do gifts for the most part (he did this year for a change) the fact that he thought enough of her to give her a gift is enough to warrant a thank you in my opinion. Even if it sucked it is still nice to be appreciated.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      That is pretty rude that she didn’t even bring them home with her and just stashed them in her desk unopened, so she didn’t even know what it was. If she hated gifts that much if she just said so then that would have avoided this whole problem. Hopefully at least someone who wanted the gifts ended up with them in the end.

  9. emyaeak says:

    In that spirit, this year I was able to “rid” myself of several unwanted gifts from last year by being part of the games committee for the holiday party at work. The committee agreed to bring in nice items we had laying around, and gave them away during a trivia game. Along those lines, if it’s a nice item, donate it to a raffle raising money for a good cause.

  10. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I’d say donate to Goodwill to get the tax credit.

  11. Portlandia says:

    Thanks again Phil for pushing the envelop and thinking of new and innovative ways to deal with an age old problem.

  12. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    If unwanted gifts aren’t really worth selling because the money you would get isn’t worth the trouble, and you don’t want to just give them away, I suggest having fun destroying them.

    Fire, explosives or firearms are fun ways to get rid of them. Or, if you have the equipment, some kind of launching apparatus that will throw them a long way.

  13. djhoch says:

    My wife and I keep all unwanted gifts in our “gift closet”. It’s a great solution. We have a variety of gifts that we don’t want but are in mint condition at a variety of price points. If we ever have to go someplace that necessitates bringing a gift but we didn’t have time to get something personal we just grab something from the closet. Saved us more than once.

  14. dush says:

    Give them to a family member or friend that might want it!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think this is probably the best option if you dislike the gift because it’s just not your style or preference. Where you lose is if you don’t know anyone who would like what you just got or be able to wear it. Then it’s off to Goodwill.

  15. dragonfire81 says:

    Also, in a lot of cases you can take them back to the store for refund or store credit, even if you don’t have a receipt. Most stores are generally pretty lenient when it comes to returns this time of year.

  16. ancientone567 says:

    Most of the time without a receipt you can go back to the store and return the items for credit and get what you actually would like from that store. For example I returned 50- worth of XL American Eagle for 50- of XXL T-Shirts. One I could use the other I could not. If your unsure about where and item came from Walmart sells just about everything in the generic category. Just walk up to the return counter and ask for store credit and make sure you say it was a gift or they will ask for a receipt.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      My problem there was that my mom and sister would buy me clothes that didn’t fit from stores I can’t afford, on sale. So when I went in to get an exchange or store credit, it was for the sale price, not the full price. I ended up having to pay to get something to replace it. I finally got them to stop buying me clothes (I’m tall and have to try stuff on) by lamenting sadly about all the items I would have to donate to Goodwill that didn’t fit.

      May be mean, but I didn’t want them to waste their money, or me mine.

      • ancientone567 says:

        I have to admit I did the same thing. I asked people NOT to buy me clothes and to give me gift receipts. My family has now moved to using a website http://www.elfster.com/ Here everyone picks exactly what they want and someone buys it for them. Everyone is happy and you can surf the web for the best price for that item.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          That’s cool. My mom would never do it though. She won’t do much more than email. ANyway, we think she has a shopping addiction; she will buy all kinds of CRAP and give it as gifts. It’s all stuff she likes but she avoids hoarding by giving it away.

      • ancientone567 says:

        Oh I forgot to say that common practice for any store is to put all items on sale right after major holidays so returns will automatically get the sale price on return. This is one reason to get gift receipts, although they sometimes cheat you on those too. So just because you get refunded the sale price for credit does not mean the gift giver did not pay full price. Pretty Shady eh? But that is the business of retail.

  17. kethryvis says:

    Thank you, Captain Obvious.

  18. energynotsaved says:

    My ex hubby sent me a gift for my graduation. Like all the gifts he ever gave, this one had nothing to do with my interests, but rather his interests. So, like I do with each post-divorce gift, I write a brief thank you note, toss said gift in the car, and make the run to Good Will. I get the tax deduction and the pleasure of knowing the useless item is out of my house.

  19. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    there ought to be a holiday for workplace post holiday gift exchanges. one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

  20. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I wish I could regift items my husband’s family gives back to them. They give the worst stuff.

    • AliceAitch says:

      My in-laws gave me the same personalized necklace they gave me last year, and a gift certificate for the same store as they did last year. I still haven’t used all of last year’s gift certificate.

  21. FrugalFreak says:


  22. kataisa says:

    I often save small, unwanted gifts for Secret Santa parties. Larger unwanted gifts will be sold on ebay or I’ll give it away to the local charity who often does free pick-ups in our community every month.

    Smart charities should always send communities notices that they’ll be in the area to pick up donations in the Spring time (when people do their spring cleaning to get rid of a bunch of stuff), Fall (when people do back to school cleaning and get rid of old clothes), and Winter (tons of unwanted gifts and toys from Christmas).