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Unwanted Gifts: 3 Simple Steps to Deal

Unwanted gifts are a cause of stress in many homes. If you need help letting go, keep reading for essential mindset shifts and practical suggestions to do so.

As we creep further into January, a question lingers on your mind.  What should you do with those unwanted gifts?  

Sadly, unwanted gifts are a common challenge in North American households.  In a sobering survey, 61% of Americans admitted they got at least one unwanted gift over the holidays. reports a staggering $15.2 billion dollars is spent on unwanted gifts each year in America alone.

Unwanted gifts come in many forms.  

fondue pot you’ll stash in a guest room closet.  A set of strawberry scented body washes that smell like a scratch and sniff sticker from grade school.  Or the classic seasonal gifts that arrive 5-6 times a year: holiday-themed tea towels that clash with your everyday aesthetic.

Why not just hide them away?

Karen Kingston, author of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, addresses the energy of unwanted gifts in your home:

“Some people keep unwanted gifts out of loyalty to the person who gave it to them, to which I say, if it’s a genuine friendship, then keeping the gift can get in the way of it. Every time you look at the object or think about it, you remember your disappointment and your energy drops. As the old saying goes, it truly is the thought that counts. It’s far better to accept the love that was given with the gift and let the physical item go.”

If you received gifts that didn’t spark joy this holiday season, follow the 3 simple tips below:

1. Remain Grateful

Accept all gifts with a thankful heart and acknowledge the kind intentions of the gift-giver. Assume the best of others whether or not the gift was needed or not.

2. Act Quickly

Never hide unwanted gifts to deal with “later.” If you kow you don’t like it, need it and you won’t use it, remove it from your living space asap!

3. Give it New Life

If you struggle emotionally with unwanted gifts, throwing them in a trash bag and into a donation bin could bring up lots of guilt. If this holds you back from letting go, consider these ideas:

  • give to a friend you know will enjoy it
  • drop off directly at a shelter or community center
  • give books to a local library or school

It is powerful to SEE the good that’s created when you give the gift a new home.


Once you’ve been given a gift, it’s 100% up to you what to do with it. The exchange has been completed and you’re under no obligation to keep a gift, ever.

infographic with 3 steps to deal with unwanted gifts

Find out why your home is still cluttered.

Most people struggle with one of three common challenges when clearing clutter. But once you understand what’s holding you back, you can create a peaceful, calm & inspiring home you love.

Take the quiz below to uncover your #1 clutter challenge and how to overcome it!


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Kitty

    Ooh, spot on! I get gifts before and out of guilt, they never leave their “hiding places”. Yes, not that I am not grateful to the giver; it is just that I do not like them (not my style) or I cannot use them. Thank you for the short yet very practical advice!

    1. Jen

      Hey! Thanks for reading and the comment. And you’re so right, it’s complicated – you can be grateful to the giver and still not need those gifts in your life 😉

  2. Sheila

    20 years ago I started a bingo fundraiser for my daughters’s swim team . I hosted it at the start of FEBRUARY and challenged everyone, kids included to donate presents they received as prizes. It was a big hit with a lot of people. The swim team kept it going after we left , COVID created some problems , so now it’s an online silent auction.

    With 4 kids , 6 years from oldest to youngest, I realized when they were young that I did not want all the packaging and things that came from our extended families. So instead of gifts at Christmas I asked if family would give gift cards to the movies instead, my husband’s family didn’t really like the idea but I held fast. Going to a movie as a family of 6 was very expensive… I with the gift cards we could enjoy an experience together and not have to deal with unwanted stuff. This extended into birthdays, my sister took my eldest horse back riding, a friend took another camping, my son got to go to hockey games….museums, concerts, play parks…my kids remember those occasions not the remote control car that broke or the doll that sat in the corner. Giving the gift of time is so precious.

    1. Jen

      Sheila, the fundraiser idea is amazing. Glad it was such a hit! Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences 🙂

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