Communication / Shopping

Stop Feeling Guilty! The Permission You Need To Get Rid of Gifts

Guilt engulfs you while you stare at the neon green purse your boss gave you for your birthday. You never use it. It’s hideous. But your boss meant well. So, you just tuck it away in your closet out of respect. The same goes for the faux crystal chandelier earrings your mom bought you. She tried. And hey—they were in style in 2004! They collect dust in your jewelry box and shoot feelings of guilt at you every time you reach past them for the earrings you actually wear.

You would like to get rid of these items, but you feel awful tossing or donating them. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I get it. I feel that all the time.

But it’s okay: I give you permission to get rid of gifts!

You don’t have to tell anyone. Your gift giver has already received the satisfaction of giving you a gift. But you don’t have to keep it.  And you shouldn’t feel bad about it.

Answer the following questions to help you determine if you should keep or get rid of your unwanted gift:

Keep the gift if you said yes to any of the following:

1.)  Do you like it?

2.)  Will you use it?

3.)  Is it functional?

4.)  Would you like it if it were in a different color or style?

Sell, Return, or Donate it if you said yes to any of the following:

5.)  Can you sell it?

6.)  Can you return it?

7.)  Can you donate it?

8.)  Would someone else you know benefit from it?

9.)  Can you re-gift it?

If this gift is a one-time gift—as in, your boss will never give you a gift again, or now your mom asks you for lists of what you actually want, you’ll never have another bridal shower and won’t be bombarded with spatulas ever again in your life (you hope)—get rid of the gift and say nothing to the giver.

However, if your gift giver continually gives you items you dislike, don’t find functional, or simply pile up in your home, it’s time to have a talk with the gift giver.

Alternatives to giving items

Talk to the people in your life who often give you items that you end up returning, selling, or donating. Let them know how appreciative you are of their generosity and kindness, but gently let them know that you’d prefer they give to you in other ways.

1.)   Experiences: Instead of giving material goods, ask your giver to give you an experience. Maybe you’ve been dying to see the new blockbuster movie, or go rock climbing, or see the new exhibit at the art museum. Ask your gift giver to buy you a ticket or pass for that experience and enjoy it together.

2.)   Time: Ask your gift giver to give you their quality time. Spend an hour or two together just being together. Take a walk, talk over a cup of coffee, or spend time just listening.

3.)   Services: Ask your gift giver to give you their services instead. Maybe this person is an excellent cook, gardener, or organizer. Ask this person to whip you up a fancy dinner, help you with that stubborn rose bush, or overflowing closet.

However you end up tackling this issue, don’t let guilt force you to hold on to things you don’t want, need, or have room for. Just because you get rid of a gift, doesn’t mean you are getting rid of the giver. Give yourself the gift of permission: go ahead, get rid of items that no longer serve you!


About the Author: Brigit Callaghan Stacey is a writer and professional organizer from Chicago, IL. Her blog, Meaningfully Organized, is designed to help you get organized so you can live a meaningful life. Find more tips and tricks to stay organized here.

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