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What to do with Unwanted Gifts

Home > Sydney > Free | Christmas | Charity
by Simone Lee (subscribe)
I enjoy freelance creative writing and being a Mum to my two awesome boys.
Published January 3rd 2012
Christmas is a time of sharing and giving for many; and many people unfortunately miss out on the luxury of gifts. Economically they are not in a position to afford to buy presents and far worse are the people who starve around the world, at this time and every other time of the year.

Christmas Gifts
Christmas time - A time for giving

This year, if you have unwanted Christmas gifts that you have ended up with, don't disappoint the giver, instead recycle them. You don't need to tell the person that this is what you're doing; simply say 'thank you' for the gift.

There are many places that receive goods, such as Op or Opportunity Shops. Search online or check your local Yellow Pages in the Fast-Find Index at the front of the book for your nearest locations.

Confirm first with a phone call to the shop to see what goods they take. Normally electrical goods are restricted or excluded for safety reasons and some stores have a couple of specific constraints, otherwise they are only too happy to take your unwanted gear. With so much waste in the world they like to see items being put to good use.

Christmas Gifts
Opportunity Shops - A good place for your unwanted items

I share the same philosophy and utilise their great service during a yearly clean up or spring clean. It may feel shameful or pointless to give someone else your surplus belongings, but if it's decent it's better than ending up in the tip or rubbish dump.

Another person could better use and benefit from the item, as they say, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure.'

If you keep gifts from brand new, unopened in the packaging or tags intact etcetera, then it's easy to recycle them as presents to other people, if morally you are okay with this. You could start a Presents or Gifts Box for gifts you will never use, but wish to give to someone else that you know may better like or use it. Oprah Winfrey does exactly this.

Christmas Gifts
Giving unwanted gifts as presents to someone else should not happen all the time

I recently sent my lovely grandmother a bottle of Elizabeth Taylor's 'White Diamonds' perfume for Christmas. She absolutely loves perfume. I made her aware that it was given as a gift to me, but was unopened and unused. She didn't want me spending any money on a present for her, so she was happy for me to do this.

Sometimes perfume can be a little overwhelming in smell or some people are allergic to it, so as far as etiquette goes this would make it alright to regift.

Another way to release your unwanted Christmas gifts is to give it to a friend who may like it. If the product is not out-dated or getting old in appearance and you know your friend would absolutely love it, then don't hold back.

Yes, yes I can hear some of you saying, 'Why go to all the trouble? Why not just throw it in the bin?' If that's the option you would take for your unwanted Christmas gifts, then no one can stop you. It's just an utter waste, but it is another possibility.

We also don't give to other adults, only the children at Christmas time and have this rule universally across the board. Saves money and waste; everyone is happy to just be merry together, eat and drink. This is a good way to avoid unwanted Christmas gifts in the first place.

It can take everyone awhile to get used to buying just for the children and there's an entire year to adjust. You always get one family member who might give to everyone the following year. It usually won't happen again when it makes everyone feel awkward, especially when the special rule is vowed and broken.

All of this doesn't mean the spirit of Christmas can't continue. It's just celebrated in another way. When did it all become about the presents and consumerism anyway?

Christmas Gifts
Has consumerism gone mad at Christmas time?

I see it mostly adding to people's stress as they hurry about the shops looking for a gift to give. They say they don't have much time to get it all done. Why not just change the way we do things? Look for the sales and layby earlier in the year if you can't give up the gift of giving.

My neighbour recently told me that she gives a gift online to someone through World Vision by buying a cow or a needed resource in a third world country and sending the person she knows a card instead. The card explains what has happened to their gift for Christmas. It is a wonderful way to help the impoverished people of the world. It really does bypass all the original waste.

So, if you're left with unnecessary or too many Christmas gifts this year tell us all, 'What do you do with your unwanted Christmas gifts?'
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Why? Ensure no waste with unwanted gifts at Christmas
Your Comment
My mother-in-law, who has twenty-five grandchildren and three great grandchildren, makes a generous donation to a charity each year instead of buying gifts for all the children. The children receive a card telling them where the donation has gone. This has been a wonderful introduction to the power of charity for my children.
by Geraldine Massey (score: 3|8170) 3544 days ago
Well, according to etiquette it's okay to regift so long as you don't tell the original gifter. So you're in the clear there :)
by Carly Ogborne (score: 3|4626) 3541 days ago
Contact your local council - often the Youth Programmes that they run require toiletries, arts and craft materials, toys, board games etc. to use as incentives and prizes and resources for their programmes.
Better that they use your donations than to put up the cost of your rates to help cover the cost of keeping disadvantaged young people off the streets!
by andy6 (score: 0|4) 3540 days ago
Wow, that is certainly an outstanding way to give to others. I know I wouldn't mind if someone spent money on a gift for me like this. Either way it would definitely cost enough with that many grand children and great in the family. She certainly does her bit all at once for others who are less fortunate. Thanks for the comments Geraldine.
by Simone Lee (score: 2|536) 3544 days ago
I agree Carly. It wouldn't be worthwhile for anyone revealing this. It may only upset people. I would only regift as a rarity too. On this occasion I told the original person in the family I was regifting some perfume, but we all knew and were all o.k. about it. Thanks for your comments.
by Simone Lee (score: 2|536) 3540 days ago
Hi Andy, This is another useful resource that I was not aware of. Thank you for the feedback. It is much appreciated by me and hopefully our readers as well.
by Simone Lee (score: 2|536) 3539 days ago
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