The excellence of a gift lies in its

appropriateness rather than in its value”

Charles Dudley Warner. 

These gifts are evidence of thoughtfulness, kindness and love

When you’re organising your home, whether it’s the ornament from Great Aunt Susan, the model of the Eifel Tower that Cousin Bob bought, or your great grandmother’s dinner service, do you feel obliged to keep that unwanted gift?  

It’s natural to feel guilty for not liking something someone has bought for you? Afterall, haven’t we always been taught that it’s the thought that counts? And, they did take all that time to wrap it up for you.

Maybe you should keep them in your own ‘just in case’ store of presents with the idea to re-gift one day. 

These gifts are evidence of thoughtfulness, kindness and love, but the problem is that you don’t like them, will never use them and they don’t fit your lifestyle or décor, but now you feel guilty of what may seem to be ungratefulness.  You can end up shoving them under the bed, in the loft or at the back of a cupboard.

So, after thanking the gift giver with your very best “I love it” face, what should you do next?

Depending on how well you know the person, it may be possible to explain, in the nicest possible way, that it’s lovely but not something you’d use and would they mind if you exchanged it?  Don’t forget they have spent their hard-earned cash on your gift and won’t want that money wasted. However, this is something only you can gauge – some people do get offended with this approach.

Donating to a charity shop is often the most obvious answer but I do understand, this is currently difficult. Charity shops are predominantly closed, or unable to accept donations due to lockdown, also many are over stocked (too many people decluttered during the crazy year we’ve had and not enough people are buying). You may need to keep items to one side for the time being and when the time is right, call ahead to check they are accepting donations. Also, check their web sites, there are some items that they cannot or will not accept.

Shelters for victims of domestic abuse, or the homeless, always welcome items for personal care (shampoos, shower gels, deodorants etc) as well as larger household items that can help a survivor start to make a new home for themselves.  However, do check with your local shelter as to what they can and can’t receive. 

Some charities to look at are:

Donating to a charity is the most obvious answer

Women’s Aid https://www.womensaid.org.uk/  Refuge https://www.refuge.org.uk The Salvation Army https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/homelessness/rough-sleeping, Shelter www.shelter.org.uk.. You could also look up your local charities, they will often detail on their websites what they need and what they are overloaded with.

Another great option is the “Give back box”, which is a genius way to solve a problem.  Every time you receive a delivery, unpack a box and re-pack with anything that can go to charity. Log on to www.givebackbox.org.uk , print a label and send them your donations which will go to charity.  An excellent way to both re-cycle and help some really good causes. An excellent alternative whilst we are unable to get out and about.

If it’s your children that have received unwanted toys, these are often received by hospital’s children’s wards or hospices. Any board or computer games, Lego, arts and crafts, or electronic gifts are usually welcome, as are mobiles and development toys for babies. For unwanted books, look at Toddler Groups, Schools, and Libraries in your local area. They often have book exchange schemes or take a look at https://books2africa.org.

Hopefully, this year will have taught us about the most important things in life and for me, that is being able to spend time with people, in different places. I hope I never take for granted again, having a coffee or glass of wine with family members or a friend and being able to hug them. This, to me, is far more important that buying gifts for the sake of it.

Here’s some useful questions to ask yourself before taking the “gift plunge”:

  • Will [Aunty Edith] really love, or need this?
  • Am I buying something just for the sake it?
  • Have I been influenced by clever marketing or a special offer?
  • Has this item been sustainably sourced with environmentally friendly packaging?
  • Could I buy an alternative which supports a charity?
  • What is my budget, can I afford this?
  • Would a beautifully presented homemade gift (chutney, jam, even sloe gin) be a better alternative?

Good luck, this is always going to be a tricky one!