The present is wrapped beautifully. You open it with gusto, excited to see what Santa brought, and...well...let’s just say he didn’t exactly make your holiday wishes come true. Unwanted Christmas gifts present a tricky situation. On one hand, having a house full of new items you don’t want is kind of a non-problem. Complaining about unwanted presents is a bit like whining about too much sunshine at the beach or too much ice cream. On the other hand, those things you’re never going to use sure do create a lot of clutter in your home.
Don’t feel bad about wanting those not-quite-right Christmas gifts out of your home after the holidays are through. Here’s what to do with them:
Credit.com interviewed an etiquette expert from Mannersmith, who suggested giving a gift time to grow on you before immediately banishing it from your home. Who knows, maybe you’ll like the way that shirt fits a little more when you’re not trying it on after eating a bunch of honey-baked ham. Don’t wait too long though, as you may miss the return window if you do. That brings us to our next point.
The best case scenario when dealing with unwanted Christmas presents is to return them. If the gift giver was kind enough to slip a gift receipt into the box, you’re golden. If not, try casually asking them where the item came from. Phrase it like, “Oh what a unique vase! Where do you find something like this?” Do not say, “Where is this from? I want to return it.” Subtlety! If the gift giver is clearly very proud or emotional about the gift, do not even hint at returning it.
Next, find out the store’s return policy, including how long you have to return it (factor in when you think it was bought, not when you received it), whether or not you need a receipt, if it’s okay to return items with missing tags and whether you will get store credit or cash. For gifts purchased online, find out about in-store return options. For example, did you know that you can return items from Amazon to any Kohl’s department store?
This solution might feel like the least ethical, because it involves directly trying to make money off of an item you were lovingly gifted—however we’re not here to judge; it definitely is a viable option. Look to sites like OfferUp, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Obviously, don’t advertise that you’re selling a present in a place where the gift giver might see it.
Ah, the regift. If done right, it’s a handy solution to unwanted presents. If done wrong, it’s a social faux pas. Regift the right way by making sure you are giving the gift to someone who doesn’t know and won’t run into the original gift giver. You should also make sure the item is still in new condition. If you’re thinking about regifting books with dog-eared pages, a candle that’s already been lit once or a shirt with makeup on the collar, reconsider your choices unless you want to end up on the naughty list next Christmas.
Returning, regifting and selling unwanted holiday presents can make you feel kind of icky, which is very much not a Christmasey vibe. Recapture the holiday magic and the spirit of giving by donating those items to charity. Major charities like Goodwill and Salvation Army will accept just about anything, but you should also look at local options, such as your city’s homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. Consider unique charities that you might not initially think of, such as animal shelters, which are often in need of blankets, office supplies and of course, dog toys. For books, contact your local library. For clothing, look for a local branch of Dress for Success, a nonprofit which provides underprivileged job seekers with professional attire. If you rent a storage unit, ask the manager if the storage facility accepts donations or if they partner with Charity Storage, a nonprofit that takes funds from auctioned off storage units filled with donated items and gives them to charity.
Renting a storage unit is a great solution for unwanted Christmas presents. You can use yours to keep items that may be useful to you or your family later in life. You can store those things that you plan on regifting later. If you’re planning on donating unwanted gifts and would like to wait until holiday-oriented charities are accepting items for families in need, you can store presents in your storage unit until next year. And for that one present that you just know the gift giver is going to want to see you enjoying—like that hideous handmade sweater from your great aunt—you can store it in your storage unit and retrieve it when you need to show (okay, lie about), how much you love it.
Whatever you choose to do with unwanted Christmas presents, whether it’s returning, regifting, selling, donating or storing, remember that you still need to write a thank-you card. Be thoughtful, be grateful, and maybe ask for a gift card next year.