Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Really OK to Get Rid of Unwanted Gifts

Sweater from the Ugly Sweater Store

Did you receive some gifts this year that you just don't have any use for? No matter how much you care for the gift-givers, you really do not have to keep the gifts, as even Miss Manners will agree. She requires appropriate thank-you notes, but says you are not stuck with an item that doesn't suit you.
As long as the recipient does not come back with complaints or, worse, a demand that the giver exchange the item, she may do what she likes with it. The only requirement is to prevent the donor’s knowing that it has been rejected. No yard sales in the same neighborhood, for example. And no demanding a receipt.
Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy concurs; he says, in an article I found though Discardia:
One can very gratefully accept someone’s giving and not have to live with their gift. You’re not doing yourself or your friend a service by hanging onto the thing they gave you that you don’t like. What you do owe them, however, is to move it on from your home discreetly.
Author Alexander McCall Smith explained his personal philosophy about such gifts in a series of tweets:
Tweet 1: Christmas brings a major moral problem: what to do with unwanted gifts. Initial reaction: one must pretend to like them. Thank you so much.

Tweet 2: You don't have to keep the present for ever, but you should not give it away immediately. Certainly not on Boxing Day.

Tweet 3: January 25th is about right. Thereafter the unwanted present may be disposed of, preferably given away. If sold, proceeds to charity.
Erin Doland of Unclutterer notes, in an article in Real Simple, that as much as she feared people would ask about the gifts she finally gave away, that wound up not being a problem.
My decorating tastes may change over time, but I am fairly certain I will never enjoy a home filled with a series of rhinestone-accented paintings of scary clowns. Yet I had hoarded these and other unattractive presents because I thought that was the decent thing to do. I also wasn’t sure what I would say if someone noticed his gift missing and asked why. Well, you know what? No one has. Not even the bestower of the scary clowns.
As feng shui expert Karen Kingston says, when it comes to unwanted gifts, "It’s far better to accept the love that was given with the gift and let the physical object go." She also notes that we might consider how we, in turn, feel about the gifts we give to others:
My own attitude is that if I give a gift to someone and it amounts to instant or eventual clutter in their life then I certainly don’t want them to keep it. I would much prefer they sell it, regift it or throw it away if necessary. I give the gift and let it go.

1 comment:

Marcie Lovett said...

I agree, Jeri. I constantly am reassuring clients that it's okay to part with gifts they don't want. Love the giver for the effort and let the gift go.

Recently I was helping a friend move and I noticed that two gifts I had given her kids were in the "donate" pile. At first I was going to tease her about it, then I realized that I needed to practice what I preach: No one should ask you where a gift is after giving it.