Reacting to Unwanted Gifts and What can you do about it

How To Handle Bad Gifts And What To Do With Them

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Gifts make everyone happy, but what if you find yourself in a sticky situation when you just received a bad gift and don’t know how to react to it and what to do with a bad gift?

Should you be frank and tell the person exactly how you feel about their gift or should you feign excitement and bite YOUR tongue?

Most likely you received an unwanted gift from a person you care about such as a family member, friend or someone you don’t know all too well such as a coworker which can make things a bit… complicated!

So how should you react to a bad gift? Here are some tips to not only help you handle these situations but also some suggestions on what to do with such gifts.

P.S: Keep reading till the end if you are dealing with a habitual bad gifter.

How To React To Bad Gifts

When you don't like gifts from spouse

Unwanted Gifts From A loved one, READ- Spouse/ Boyfriend / Girlfriend, etc.

Tell THEM, no.. really, but gently!

It feels crushing to know your gift is not appreciated and it feels even worse when the recipient is the love of your life.

But even though telling them the truth might seem like the hardest thing to do, being honest about it will save you and them any future disappointments.

Feigning gratitude is easier but you risk getting similar gifts every year.

Be sure to broach the subject with sensitivity. As long as you are not rude, you will not likely hurt their feelings.

It is a good idea to start the discussion by letting them know how much you appreciate their gesture and feel grateful before you gently explain what could have been a better choice/ style for you instead

Contrary to what you might be thinking, they will be happy to know about your likes and dislikes so the next time they can make a winning choice that will truly impress you.

Bad Gifts From In-Laws

In comparison to any family relationships, reacting to bad gifts from in-laws requires A LOT of tact. Especially if it is the mother-in-law.

Even if you are close to your in-laws, it is usually not easy to approach the subject without causing any emotional stress. There are a lot of feelings, social etiquettes, and expectations involved here. A rebuff might seem too personal!

You probably want to avoid all of this. So stick with me here…

It is probably a good idea to let the spouse do the talking/ suggesting here.

Let them know what you need. It is always a GOOD IDEA to suggest something in their budget, so there is a better chance of them heeding the advice.

But what if the spouse does not want to handle this?

Then it is okay that you do the talking/ suggesting but remember to express gratitude for all they have gifted you so far so that you don’t ruffle the feathers.

And remember… the only unfortunate part, if all fails, is that that you would have to keep it and even flaunt it sometimes to protect their feelings especially if they like to go down the memory lane reminiscing about things they gifted you in the past.

For instance, if your mother in law likes to gift clothes, accessories, home decor items, etc you don’t like.

Don’t forget to say thank you and if it doesn’t hurt maybe wear the clothes or display the glass vase she gave you when she visits and once she leaves put them back where you don’t see them!

But of course, it is up to you to decide!

Bad Gifts From In-Laws

May be difficult to believe but your own family can also turn out to be bad gifter.

Sometimes even parents can be the source of unwanted gifts- giving things you don’t need or want in bulk, picking things for you from casual stops at their favorite thrift store, etc.

The only difference being, as opposed to the in-laws, there is slight ease to dealing with unwanted gifts here.

The closest relatives like mom, dad, siblings are the easiest, to tell the truth to.

It is easier to explain why you didn’t like the gift and that you would exchange it for something else.

Unwanted Gifts From Close Relatives

You LOVE them but HATE their choice of gifts. I hear ya!

This includes bad gifts you receive from an old aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.

They put so much thought and effort into buying a gift for you so it is really sad to tell them the truth and hurt their feelings.

Is it really worth having a discussion over? Do you receive gifts from them very often? I am guessing the answer is no.

It is better to keep the lips sealed, tell them you are happy and grateful- after all white lies don’t hurt, and just live with it.

You know what to do here!

Unwanted Gift From A Colleague 

when you don't like gifts from your relatives, in laws, aunts

Unfortunately being HONEST will not earn you any favors here, it will be the height of bad gift receiving etiquette.

In this case, you can only feign excitement, say thank you and move on. Hopefully, your colleague only gives a gift once a year!

Unwanted Gift From A Friend

When you don't like the gifts from your friend

There are two types here – the hit or miss friend and the habitual bad gifter.

While the ‘hit or miss gift’ friend is what you can probably live with, the habitual bad gifter friend is the one you would want to address.

Although you can choose to keep your lips sealed; but if the gifts are often expensive or presented more than just one or two times a year, it’s wise to take action so the friend does not waste their money buying things that will be left collecting dust somewhere in your home.

And you as well don’t feel compelled to give them a gift of equal value.

One suggestion is to establish a no gift policy. You don’t buy a gift for each other but celebrate important occasions with a dinner, drinks or a casual get together.

Unwanted Handmade Gifts

Reacting to Homemade DIY Gifts

If you are feeling disappointed even before you open the 5th homemade DIY gift this year from this person, it’s reason enough to take an action.

DIY homemade gifts are dear to the giver’s heart so it’s all the more heartbreaking to reject a DIY gift.

These gifts are a result of their creativity, patience, and hard work but truth be told they also carry the risk of the recipient not liking them.

Not everybody appreciates homemade DIY homemade gifts like cookie mix in a jar, bath and beauty DIY cosmetics, home decoration DIY, etc.

If you can make your peace with it, DO IT.

If you can’t however then talk to them about it.

Addressing the issue head-on is certainly not the best option, you don’t want to seem insensitive. But giving them a hint will only save their time and effort in future so maybe casually mention that you are picky about products and like to stick to store brands you know work the best for you.

For any home decoration related item, you can indicate that you are fine with what you have and don’t wish to add any more decorative items at the moment.

Unwanted Heirloom Gifts

Handed down family heirlooms are special in the significance they hold. Most times people are grateful to receive one but what if you don’t like the heirloom gift?

If it is easy enough to store away then just say that you are genuinely thankful to receive it and store it away safely.

However, if it’s something that you would not like to keep such as an old piano or family heirloom guns, etc then speak to other family members and explain why you can’t keep the heirloom.

Family heirlooms are always a coveted item in every family. See if someone else would like to keep it instead. There might be someone who would like to be the proud owner of the family heirloom.

After all this talk of reacting to bad gits now, it’s time to see what can you actually do with unwanted gifts.

5 Things To Do With Unwanted Gifts

You will end up keeping some gifts you don’t like so you can spare feelings, even if they are left to collect dust. Like gifts from in-laws and older relatives but there will be some other gifts that you would have no issues parting with.

Whatever be the case here are top 5 things you can do with those unwanted gifts-

1. Repurposing

See if you can repurpose/ refurbish the gift to make it useful for you in some way.

Look up interesting ideas to repurpose the gift- an ugly photo frame or the candleholder. For inspiration, there are a lot of ideas available on crafts related websites and on YouTube that can help you with creative ideas.

This way you will not hurt any feelings and also feel proud of creating something on your own that you can use.

2. Reselling

Reselling is another great option, given you have the time to do it.

Online sites are not only for buying but selling as well. You can try to sell unwanted things on Craigslist, eBay, etc. It might not earn you even a decent amount but at least someone will actually get some use out of it. 

3. Donate To A Thrift Store

Donating to a thrift store is an easy solution.

If it’s something that you don’t wish to sell/ go through the hassle of selling, don’t feel right selling or think you can’t get anything decent for it then dropping it to the nearest thrift store is the best option.

4. Re gift

Sure you can regift it. Regifting is not entirely uncommon or unheard of.

Somebody’s unwanted gift can be another person’s need or want. But it is essential to be aware of other people’s choices and interests when regifting.

You simply should not re-gift something because you didn’t want to keep it.

Be mindful when regifting something you don’t like. There is a chance the other person might not like it either. It is better to make a calculated decision than a hasty one when regifting.

Don’t want to be called a bad gift giver yourself? Check out these Perfect Gift Tips That Will Skyrocket Your Gift Game

5. Ask Around For Any Takers

Maybe the gift you received is not your style or size but is a better fit for someone else you know. Ask your trusted friend or relatives if they need it before you give it away. 

Bad Gift Receiving Etiquette

Express Gratitude!

Gifts make people happy- the ones who are receiving it and also the ones giving it. Although it’s difficult to feel happy when you receive gifts you don’t like. But regardless first and foremost you should always say thank you and express gratitude when you receive one.

But if it is hard for you to do that then remembering this will help.

Giving a gift is a gesture of love, nobody owes it to you.

They choose to give you something because they wanted to make you happy, and they unfortunately failed. But the feeling that someone did something for you out of love should be reason enough to bring a smile to your face.

In addition to thi, no matter what the gift turned out to be, it definitely took time, money and effort on the givers part.


Be Grateful For the Gift Even If It Is Something You Don't Like

How you can and should handle an unwanted or bad gift will depend on your relationship with the giver.

Your relationship with the person is key here.

A friend is a different type of relationship than a colleague or a relative…

In the end, it is important to realize that gifts are/ should be symbolic in nature, rather than valuable.

Poor gift choices aren’t necessarily meant to be poor. They are sometimes just a matter of wrong choice, a rushed decision or maybe extra creativity, unfortunately.

A bad gift can only make you feel sad for a moment but sometimes it is better to accept them and appreciate the fact that you were thought of.

Staying silent to the gift giver is not a sign of being fake or weak. It is something that we all do to keep relationships healthy. Even if it means you will probably get a hoodie, two sizes too big, in bright color every year even if you hate bright colors and don’t like to wear hoodies!

In the end, chances are even if you have done all that you can to prevent receiving any more bad gifts, someone can and will throw all the advice and hints you gave them out of the window and STILL get you something unsavory again!

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  1. Lovely post and filled with so many good ideas for how to handle the situation. Personall, I long ago began to make it clear that my feelings would not be hurt at all if no one gave me gifts. So much easier that way for our family and I know some other people who are like that.

    1. Author

      That is a good idea, I know many families who decide to just that!

  2. Great ideas when you don’t need or care for a gift given to you. And yes, hold your tongue when receiving gifts. Even if you don’t like it.

  3. So many situations, but I definitely agree that it is better to not say anything. However, I wouldn’t be able to wear something that I don’t like just because the person who gifted it to me is around.

    1. Author

      Yes, sometimes not saying anything is the best we can do. I would only wear something they gave me when I am at home around them, away from the public eye to avoid feeling too self-conscious.

  4. I tried telling my parents once that I didn’t like what they gave me, it did not go down well! Now, it’s white lies and re-gifting. I have a gift draw, if I don’t like it, it goes in there and then I can give it to someone else.

    1. Author

      I completely understand, not everyone wants to hear the truth. I love the idea of a gift draw!

  5. I never have the heart to tell anyone I didn’t like their gift! Whether they are close to me or not. These are great suggestions though. Instead of letting something go to waste, I would regift rather than sell.

  6. yes, it is best not to say anything, you can always regift it 🙂 thank you for sharing these ideas

    1. Author

      Glad you liked it Nina, thank you for stopping by!

  7. It’s always going to be a difficult line you have to walk when you don’t want the gift that you are given. It’s the thing where it’s important you express you appreciate the thought even if you do not want or cannot use what you are given.

  8. This is the first post I’ve seen about this topic and I’m surprised! Especially with the concept of minimalism taking off, keeping it simple is ideal but sometimes hard to do. I am surrounded by a lot of people who believe in gift-giving and first and foremost, regardless of the gift, it does warm my heart to be a recipient of such a gesture. But I have quietly done some regifting, some donating, or offer-upping as well.

    1. Author

      Sometimes regifting and re-purposing are unfortunately all that we can do.

  9. The reason why I really don’t want to expect anything when I receive gifts is because I can’t hide my true feelings. But it’s true that we should always be thankful and grateful that somebody cares and remembers to give us something.

    1. Author

      It is definitely an art to be thankful and grateful even at times when you don’t appreciate the gift after all the giver always intends it to be a thoughtful gift.

  10. Got the same experience. Before, I keep the gifts only that they amass and eat space. Then I give them to those I believe will appreciate them. I also give them away as a giveaway contest on the blog and so far I gained friends and followers.

    1. Author

      I never thought about giveaways, that is an excellent idea!

  11. It’s nice to just say thank you for the gift. But if you know the one who gave the gift personally, perhaps you could tell why you think the gift is not fit for you.

    1. Author

      If you have a very personal relationship with this person it is a good idea to try to have a discussion because chances are they will give similar gifts in the future as well!

  12. Thanks for sharing such great tips. I always take everything to the thrift store especially after the holidays cause most people just but gifts without even knowing what you really like.

    1. Author

      Glad you liked the post-Larrisha! I know a lot of people who have to do exactly this- especially after the holiday season is over.

  13. What an interesting post! I try to be grateful for things I recieve. I can totally make something unwanted into something wanted. I’d never reject a gift. Ever. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

    1. Author

      That’s fantastic! we should all show gratitude irrespective of how we feel about the gift.

  14. I am so so so terrible at this, I try so hard to not show all over my face my impression of an unwanted gift, but it seems out of my control. I am grateful for the thought, I know how great it can feel to give and receive. The worst was one time one of my sweet friends gave me a signature gift, and I made the mistake to re-gift it to another friend. Several at the party made comment about it. Yikes!!

    1. Author

      Ouch! Yeah, we are not faux paus proof! keeping a list of who gave what can come in very handy in future when the need to regift arises! It is easier to forget who you got the gift from but the giver always remembers what they gifted.

  15. Good ideas. So many good ideas for how to handle the situation. Thanks for sharing.

  16. It’s always very difficult especially when it comes from the love of your life but i think i have learnt some lessons from this blog post that can help sort thing out.

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