The year seems to have been belting past at a ferocious rate, and once again we are on the verge of Christmas. The most wonderful season is coming again, as we prepare for snow, winter fun and all the wonders it can bring. We have family holidays to look forward to, huddling under the mistletoe, twinkling fairy lights and... the gifts.
Now some of the gifts will be great. There will be gifts that we treasure, enjoy and come to love for years to come. They will be carefully selected just for us, or small novelty items that make us smile. And there's the joy of giving gifts as well; making someone happy, giving them something they want or need. It might not be the reason for Christmas, but gift-giving has become a big part of it.
Well, it almost seems wrong to say it. Ungrateful, even - like we are admitting some horrible secret that we should be trying to keep to ourselves. But the truth is that some gifts... they are not good. Take a deep breath and acknowledge it, even though it feels like you're defying social convention. Some gifts don't make us happy. They make us plaster on an uncomfortable smile and thank someone with conviction, all the while wondering: "what do I do with that?
We're going to try and explore the idea of what you can do with gifts that you don't want. It might take awhile to acknowledge something you have received has drifted into the Unwanted Gift territory, but it's got to be dealt with. There is no point trying to convince yourself you will find a way to love it, that it's not so bad - if it's not working for you, then do something about it.
Of course, you don't need to tell the person who gave it to you. You can still be polite, show them a smile and make it clear how grateful you are. And there is still something in the idea that it's the thought that counts. With all of that said, however, the fact remains you are now in possession of something you don't want - so let's try and make it work.
Option One: Upcycle It
You might have heard of upcycling to do with antique furniture. You take something not in the best condition and give it a new lease of life. There's plenty of guides online for how to do this, and it's a particularly good idea if you've got a creative side. "But," you're currently thinking, "I don't have a piece of hidden-treasure style antique furniture. I've got a vase I hate!" Or whatever terrible gift you have been on the receiving end of.
Let's stick with the idea of the vase for the moment. It's ugly; you don't want it in your home. But like many gifts, there is also the problem of the giver dropping by and wondering where it is.
You can just throw it into a cupboard and not use it, but that doesn't solve the problem above. So you need to try and find a way to live with it.
You have a few options here:
Fill it with colored glass pebbles or a candle to give it a second function and make it more attractive.
Fairy lights with their own batteries can go inside and give a beautiful glow that disguises much of the vase itself.
You can paint it or add adornments so it's more to your taste, which you can sell as a plus point to the giver if ever questioned. "I loved being able to put my stamp on it," you say with confidence exuding from every pore. "It's all the more special now as we have both worked on it...
"If you've not got a vase problem but something else, the same things apply. Ask yourself:
What can I add to it to make me like it more?
Can I put something in it or hide it among other things?
Can it be used for a purpose other than what it was intended for?
It is better to try and find some use out of it than struggling to make something that you dislike work. Even if it's clothing, there are ways and means of customizing something so it is at least acceptable. And if you only bring it out when you expect the giver is going to see it, well, no one has to know.
Option Two: Give It Away
It might seem unpleasant, but you may be given a gift that you don't have a use for - but someone else does. Things like kitchen appliances fall into this category. To some people, they are useful and sought after, but they may not be for you. You might not bake much, or it might even be a duplicate of something that you already own.
In that circumstance, it's best to give it away. You can explain its absence perhaps by saying it broke and you didn't want to disappoint the person who gave it to you by telling them that.
You don't just have to give it away, either. You can sell it online or donate it to charity, depending on how you think it will be best serviced. Just make sure you know what you will say to the person who bought it for you if its absence is noticed.
As for gift cards, they are often seen as the ultimate easy gift, but they have their own issues. For example, gift cards from a store that you don't like can be a nightmare. They also put financial pressure on, as usually, you would have to spend extra on top of the card to make it worthwhile. There are ways to sell the gift card on for cash - as a bonus, you can get discounts on gift cards that you do want. Then you can still make use of it.
If you don't feel comfortable making a profit on a gift, then you can always give the money from a sale to a charity. Better yet, make it a charity that the person you received the gift from cares about. You can even tell them that you did it, and let them appreciate the gesture, if you know they are unlikely to take offense.
Option Three: Regift It
Usually, regifting is seen as a bad thing. It's painted as a social sin, a big no no, something you should never do.
In some circumstances, that's the case. For example, it's unwise to consider regifting in any of these cases:
The new recipient is someone that the original giver knows. This can create more problems than a bad gift is worth.
The new recipient knows you received this gift. This can happen if you moan about the gift at Christmas, but forget you did so for their birthday in August. They will remember though when they see the gift you complained about in their stock of presents.
You have been warned against it. Some people when giving gifts ask you to be honest, in which case saying you love it and then regifting is not a good option. Take them at their word and tell them about it.
Where regifting can work is in a scenario such as the following:
Your friend has given you a blender. You already have one, and you like the one you have; you see no need to replace it with the new one.
Your Aunt, who lives over 100 miles away, has never met your friend. You know that they need a new blender.
In this case, it would almost be silly to spend more money on a separate gift. You already have what they want; there's no risk of cross-communication - so you could go ahead and do it.
Additionally, don't try to shoehorn a match where it doesn't fit. Don't try and convince yourself someone will love your unwanted gift, because you want to get it off your hands. Only regift if the item is genuinely something that you would have bought for the recipient anyway, not just to make your life easier.
Option 4: Recycle It
This could just be "throw it in the trash," but come on; it's 2016. You know better than that. If the item has parts that can be recycled (and many things do), then spend a while stripping it for parts and doing so. Clothes are perfect for this, and can either be donated directly or recycled for further use.
Option 5: Reuse It
For some items, it may be possible to make something you want out of them - this is upcycling on a grand scale. Jewelry is a prime contender here. A lot of jewelry can be melted down and made into something new, that you like. Gemstones - even cheap costume ones - can be salvaged for a proper use. So don't dismiss it to the back of your jewelry box and forget about it; see if it has something a professional can make use of.
Bad gifts happen, but having to put up with them doesn't. Be creative, be cautious and always try to protect the feelings of the person who gave the gift. Enjoy the holidays guilt-free as a result.