It is considered poor form to burst into tears or convey distress upon receiving a gift. Poor form for anyone over the age of five, though it’s good to start children early on the path of stoicism.

The correct response to unwanted Christmas presents: cultivating grace. Hiding any bitter disappointment and reciprocating with a delightfully hand written thank you card.

Difficult as it is – There is not a lot else one can do.
If there Is sufficient space, a dedicated ‘unwanted gifts’ cupboard can be created. Lock the doors to the horrors- out of sight out of mind. (that doesn’t work for me, as I am a dedicated declutterer and simply don’t have the spare cupboard.)

# e bay has certain possibilities, (though painfully time consuming)
# some of the better things can go directly to charity,
# sadly others, directly into the bin.

Over the years, I have almost perfected my gift exchange regime, and succeeded in minimising duds. (acrylic pashminas, eczema inducing bath products, toxic room fragrances, expensive shoes that do not fit, are some joys that I recall from days bygone. What was the worst present you ever got?)

It is said, that people give as gifts things they would like to receive themselves, so pay attention. Sometimes of course it’s pure laziness or intense ‘regifting’, which is after all the original form of recycling. Other times, I have been given gifts which were embarrassingly expensive and simply did not fit into my simple aesthetic. Including a gift receipt would help with this particular problem, though anyone returning boodles diamonds, may seem a tat ungrateful.

Friends & family, are mostly content to take me out for a drink and hand me a little note from their WWF gift donation. Sheer bliss, I shall love you for ever. The LSH (long suffering husband) is an exception to the rule, as he buys the best gifts ever, things did not even know, one could not live without…

So off I go to write my thank you notes to all, and ponder on my New Years fashion resolutions coming up shortly.

On that note- a big thank you to those of you wonderful friends, for donating to save the elephant and support our precious wild life.

© Ladysarahinlondon

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13 thoughts on “Etiquette: What to do with unwanted Christmas presents.

  1. Steve Morris

    Since, as you say, people give as gifts things they would like to receive themselves, the solution to unwanted presents would seem obvious? Return the gift to the sender next Christmas!

  2. Virginia

    Excellent suggestions on how to handle this situation. Thank you notes are very kind and thoughtful, especially for gifts that are not, well, loved!

  3. Couldashouldawoulda

    Worst gift I ever got? A gift I gave that person two years ago. If you re gift people should keep note who to regift to! At the time I was offended but now I just laugh at the memory. I was too embarrassed for the person to mention…

  4. happyface313

    🙂 Sometimes it’s really hard to give. I try my very best to find the right thing for the specific person, but I do tell them if it’s not what they like I have the receipt and I won’t be troubled if he/she returns it and picks something else. It’s better than if the gift lands in the unwanted box or the recipient has to deal with ebay 😉
    Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas!? xo 🙂

  5. Ed

    got lots of ridiculous christmas presents as a kid, but the one I hated the most was a naff blue tie from John Lewis which my sister posted for me when I was working in silicon valley. no one wore ties there and most people had never even seen one….

  6. Susan

    I always get a mix of gifts and simply graciously accept the gift and the thought. I either use the gift myself or give it away to someone that wants or has expressed interest in it. Purchasing a gift takes time and if someone put some amount of time into the purchase, I appreciate the thought. Most of my thank you notes are email.

    The entire adult gift giving process, for some, seems more out of obligation This shows, generally. We probably all have a few friends and relatives that are known for re-gifting (This year one friend said to me, “thank you, I’ll keep that gift!”…clearly she is known for her re-gifting!) .

    I love exchanging gifts with children because they are very sincere and excited about the exchange.The pure joy of gift exchange with children is both precious and gratifying. My gift list includes more children than adults!

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Thank you Susan- you made some great points as always! 👍 You are so right about gifts for Children too – they really feel the joy. I am slightly rubbish at choosing good kiddie gifts, toys and the like.😃

  7. Susan

    I also give mostly to children. The delight and joy in their faces is so precious. They really appreciate a gift. Generally, I know the children pretty well and am fully aware of their interests and hobbies. My gift aligns with this criteria. For adults, it is a dinner or lunch together at a nice restaurant. The entire gift and re-gifting madness is common and I find having a celebration meal far more enjoyable than a gift exchange.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Exactly! I also love a celebration meal. The regifting madness has to end somewhere, looking at a bag full of unwanted gifts to take to oxfam right now. I wonder if they want them either though…


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