The dead weight of unwanted gifts

Just because someone gave you a gift doesn't mean you have to wear it!

Are you still in the throes of a few holiday gifts that were way off the mark? Sure, it’s the new year, but some of last year’s presents are undoubtedly still lingering. It’s tempting to toss the itchy sweater into the back of the closet or shove the freakishly grinning gnome knickknack onto a very high shelf and deal with it “later.”

Why do we keep these items? I blame indecision and guilt. And speaking of guilt, I’m your girl. A relative (I won’t dare say whom) gave me a gold bracelet nearly a decade ago. It’s too big for my wrist and rolls up and down my forearm when I wear it (which is only when the giver visits). It’s not my style or my taste but I’ve been holding on to it because it was a costly gift and was meant to be significant.

Seeing gold prices spiking, my husband recently encouraged me to sell the bracelet and pick out something else I’d really like. Somehow hearing him suggest this made the idea of freeing myself of this “gift” much more palatable. So I’m going to do it and select something that’s more to my taste. Or maybe I’ll use the money for a Paper Source class or a massage or two.

I’m feeling less guilty about this because I thanked the giver many times and I sincerely appreciated the effort and thought that went into selecting this gift. And that’s what counts, really.

I’m giving myself permission to weed out burdens in disguise as gifts. And I’m encouraging you to do the same. Here are the options:

— Give it to someone who could use it AND would want it.

— Return it, if possible, for store credit.

— Donate it to Goodwill, Career Closet or an appropriate charity.

— Sell it on Craigslist or give it away on Freecycle.

— Sit it on the curb outside your home with a big “Free to a good home!” sign on it.

Losing weight is always a popular New Year’s resolution, and it’s easy. You can drop five or 10 pounds in an afternoon just by clearing out gifts you won’t use, don’t want and don’t need!


About organizesf

Professional organizer June Bell ( combats clutter and chaos with sage advice, tested techniques and good humor.
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4 Responses to The dead weight of unwanted gifts

  1. Debbie says:

    I felt terrible guilt last year when I took all my old gold (including an 18 carat ring my mother-in-law got me in India – it never fit, and 2 large really ugly pieces of men’s jewelry from my husband’s grandfather). While I felt guilty at the time, I used the money to help fund my kids’ college accounts, and that made me feel much better.

    • organizesf says:

      Great idea! You found a great way to turn gold into something even more valuable. And think how proud you’ll be when the kids graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard.

  2. If it’s a gift from a close family member, I’m careful to hang onto it for a ‘decent’ amount of time (say, a year or so, or perhaps until their next visit?). Otherwise, I have no hesitation in quietly donating to a good cause.
    I find, people rarely ask about the gifts they have bought you – I think in almost all cases, they themselves forget what they have gifted.

  3. Hi, June,
    I think getting rid of gifts you don’t want is easier when you can accept that people will dump the stuff you give them too. Just focus on the giving and receiving part. The object itself doesn’t matter as much.

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