OK, look, I know, I know. Some of you might think I’m being a bit miserly writing about unwanted Christmas gifts right before Christmas. It’s hardly in the Christmas spirit, and we should all be grateful for what we receive, right?

Well, let’s get real. I’m sure that at one time or another, we’ve all been bought a gift that we didn’t appreciate. We may have appreciated the sentiment and the thought that went into it, but the gift itself? Uh, no thanks.

The Dilemma

The problem is this. Your well meaning relative or friend loves you enough to buy you a present. They have taken time and care to select it for you, and they think you’re going to love it. 

But what do you do if their taste is different to yours? Who knows what is lurking in those shiny presents under the tree!

You face the difficult choice of being stuck with an item you dislike, forever adorning your home, or you risk offending your loved one if you get rid of it. What a dilemma.

(Tip for everyone: always buy something disposable for your home decor lover- cut flowers for example- but never EVER buy something they then have to display for ever after. Do you want to give someone else the dilemma I’ve mentioned above? No! Check out my Christmas gift guide for the home lover here for some better gift ideas).

How to Deal with Unwanted Gifts

The best way to handle this is of course is to make those expectations clear up front. If you know they are wanting to buy you something, see if you can head it off at the pass. “Please could I have <INSERT voucher/ flowers/ chocolates/ a meal/ experience/some babysitting/ a donation to charity> for Christmas?” usually does the trick.

But if you haven’t done this, and you’re already lumbered with said gift, you have one of the following ways to deal with it.

1. Suck it up

Display the item for all to see, and have a home full of someone else’s taste. But at least you haven’t offended them, right? Hmmm… Sadly, this is what most of us tend to do because the fear of upsetting someone is greater than the dread of living with something we don’t like. Crazy when you think about it.

2. Display it just when they visit

Oh this is exhausting. Always having to think about who gave you what, and where it is stored. And what if they pop by unexpectedly? Not the best option, but an option, nonetheless. 

3. Display it somewhere less obvious

This is the option I tend to take most often. Unless the gift is really hideous (see 3 and 4 below) I try to make space for the item in a room that I don’t care so much about. It’s not an ideal solution though, as you still end up with someone else’s taste in your home.

3. Refuse the gift

Now this one seriously takes some guts, and I’m not sure that many people are brave enough to do this (is this just a British thing?). Explain gently that, whilst you really appreciate the sentiment, it’s not to your taste, and you would prefer that they re-gift it to someone who would appreciate it better. Then put your tin hat on and duck. Yes, this is cringe worthy, but on the bright side, it will ensure that this never happens again! If you are receiving unwanted gifts year after year, it may be time to bite the bullet and take this approach.

4. Accept the gift, thank them and then donate it to charity

This feels a little bit duplicitous, but I bet there are lots of people who prefer to do this. For some of us, we will store it away for a few months before feeling that it’s been an acceptable amount of time to get rid. The more ruthless of us will head straight to the charity shop as soon as they open after Christmas. This option allows you to avoid offending your loved one, and raises money for charity too. This might make you feel a little less guilty.

5. Put the gift away somewhere

Storing an unwanted gift (perhaps in the loft or a cupboard) is a common strategy. It means that we don’t have to deal with the eyesore, and we hope that the fact it is never on display may give the buyer a big hint. You may get lucky with this approach, but equally you may not, and you may be faced with the same dilemma this time next year.

Until next time x

Main Image Source: John Lewis


  • I’ve had this problem a few times in my life as well 🙁 Never fun. I always displayed it because I would feel terrible if I didn’t…

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