How to let go of unwanted gifts

16 Apr 2018


Unwanted gifts. Everyone has received one at some time in their life. You might have one (or more!) in your home right now. Whether it is a decorated glass bowl that doesn’t go with anything else in your kitchen from your well-meaning Aunt, a hand cream that you can’t actually stand the smell of from your colleagues, or some jewellery that your loved one bought you for your anniversary, many people feel too guilty to get rid of gifts that they do not actually like.


Having experienced this, I understand the feelings of guilt. However, I believe it is important to surround ourselves with things that we truly love and enjoy. If we don’t love and enjoy something, it may actually be preventing us from having more joy in our lives.


For example, imagine your sister gave you winter coat and you don’t like the colour or fit but you keep using it because you feel guilty getting rid of it. Now, you could just push your sister’s coat to the back of the wardrobe. Or you could let it go and allow yourself the permission to hunt for and choose a coat that YOU love and that YOU feel great in.


Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate whether we truly like a gift when there is a lot of guilt associated with it. Pick up the item in your hands and ask yourself - does it spark joy? Would you choose it for yourself if given the chance? And try these tips to help you let go.


Four tips for letting go of unwanted gifts


1. Focus on the gesture

So your colleagues gave you a handful of things when you left your last job. You felt so chuffed when they showered you in lovely gifts but… you don’t actually like any of them. I can hear you saying “but it was so nice of them!!” Of course it was. It will always be a lovely gesture regardless of whether or not you keep the gifts. It’s ok to let go of them.



2. Imagine someone else enjoying the item

When people give a gift, they do so because they think you will value and appreciate the item. If you don’t like the gift and you choose to let it go, you can allow the gift to be appreciated in the way the gift-giver hoped.

On that note, consider donating or selling (if you feel comfortable) unwanted gifts so that someone else can purposely acquire the item. If you pass the gift on to someone else, it is possible that you will just pass the burden on.


3. Stop associating your love or respect for the person with the gift they gave you

The person chose to give you a gift of their own free will. If you let go of the gift you are not letting go of your love and respect for them. Your love and respect for someone is independent of the types of gifts they choose to give you.


4. Thank the person who gave it to you

Sometimes it helps to pause and thank the person out loud (to yourself, not to the person) for their kindness. I like to hold the gift in my hand and say to myself “Thank you friend for the beautiful gesture but this item does not serve me in my life”. You could also try:


“Thank you friend, I appreciate your loving gesture but this item is not right for me”.

“Thank you loved one, I am touched by your thoughtfulness but I choose different things for my life”.



There you have it. I would love to know, what unwanted gifts are you struggling to let go? Will  any of these tips help you to let them go? Do you have any other tips to share?


And one last thing… next time you are giving a gift, consider how confident you are that the receiver will like it. Consider if you are only giving the gift out of a perceived obligation. It may be a greater gift not to give a gift at all.


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Melbourne Australia