Five ways to use unwanted Christmas gifts

December 25, 2015
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Christmas is my favourite time of year, because I’m usually out of socks and Christmas-themed coffee mugs. But while the Christmas holidays are a time of joy and giving, they do have a dark side and you’ll inevitably receive some unwanted gifts. Whether your parents don't realise you've outgrown the Power Rangers or you don't really need a new tie from a well-meaning aunt, we all get a present or two that doesn't quite meet our standards.

The question then becomes, what do you do with unwanted Christmas gifts?

Refund, re-gift, recycle

Sometimes gifts make no sense and are from people you barely have a connection to. For example, a lot of workplaces might give out something crappy and useless to all employees. In this case, it's acceptable to refund or sell, since there's no sentimentality involved. Refunding to a store or attempting to trade in is also fine.

The next best option is to just pass some gifts along to the next person. Distant family members you hardly know will likely give generic gifts like a soap pack, and since it's so plain and universally acceptable as a gift, your unsuspecting recipient will never see it coming. You never know - they might really like it!

Bad presents are just souvenirs

Christmas is a time you really want to remember. Nothing will remind you of the happy times like a tacky painting or a t-shirt with a horrible pun on it. Every time you use the “world's coolest dude” mug, it can remind you of Christmas Day or the person who gave it to you. Keeping it is like having an inside joke with yourself.

Plus, it's always worth holding on to dorky clothes just in case, because you never know when the tides of fashion will change: hipsters love the Christmas sweaters that used to only be for the dorky. Better yet, just wear your poorly fitting Christmas clothes, because with enough confidence people will just assume that's the fashion now.

Donate or give away

One man's trash is another man's treasure - there's no point letting something go to waste when it’ll give someone else joy. That's the point of Christmas at the end of the day. If a gift really is going to be doing nothing but collecting dust, then it's the right thing to do is. Plus, you don't have to deal with the clutter, and the Christmas spirit can keep on going.

White Elephant

If you know you're going to get a useless gift before you open your presents, try introducing the idea of White Elephant/Yankee Swap. This is particularly useful if your family and friends are really terrible at giving each other gifts.

The rules are that everyone brings a present. Taking turns, you can either pick a new present and unwrap it or steal someone else’s already unwrapped present. You can't steal a present that has just been stolen, and you keep stealing or picking until everything is unwrapped. When everything is unwrapped, you’re stuck with whatever you have. You can see how it can get kind of nasty though, so consider yourself warned. 

Buck up and just use it anyway

Someone’s gone to the trouble of giving you a gift, and whether or not they put a lot of thought into it is beside the point.

Say you got some watercolour pencils but you can't draw to save your life - in fact, you hate drawing. You owe it to the gift-giver to at least take a shot at drawing something. If you have gotten a set of water colours every episode of 'The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross' is available, so there’s no excuse for not trying. Maybe you'll even like it. 

Sam Talbot

Sam Talbot is a law and media student at the University of Adelaide. He highly values all-day breakfasts. Twitter with him @SamTalbot5.

Image: Prepared BC, Flickr Creative Commons license