Getting Rid of Gifts Without The Guilt

December 20, 2021

If your holiday celebrations include giving and receiving gifts, it is inevitable that you or your family will get at least one thing that you won't want or need.

When that happens, don't get swept up in holiday fever and hold onto things out of inertia or guilt. 

It is normal to feel conflicted between being gracious and your desire to avoid clutter, so remember that keeping every gift, regardless of its appeal, is a recipe for clutter disaster. 

Without wrecking your holiday buzz, you should know what to do with the stuff that's not going to stay.

So keep reading below to learn how to let go of unwanted gifts and avoid guilt. 


The holidays are a time for giving, so the first thing you can do with unwanted gifts is to donate them as soon as possible. 

You don't have to wait for Christmas to pass and you definitely don’t need to wait until New Year’s; there are plenty of charities that are eager for your unwanted gifts right now. 

If you prefer to support a local charity, a quick Google search will point you to several places where you can donate all your unwanted things. 

Or you can choose to support a nationwide non-profit such as Goodwill, Out of The Closet, or Habitat For Humanity. 

Some non-profits even offer the opportunity to adopt a child or family for the holidays if you feel called to donate more than just an unwanted gift. 


Another option for getting rid of unwanted gifts is to regift them to someone else who can use them. 

If the item you received reminds you of another person in your circle of family or friends, pass it along so the gift will find a new home with someone who it’s more aligned with. 

And, if you are hosting or attending a holiday party that includes a gift-exchange game such as White Elephant, you can regift any unwanted presents during these gatherings.


If you know where a gift was purchased, it may be possible to exchange it for another item or a gift card. 

Stores like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have a return window for holiday gifts and often offer exchanges or store credit for unopened items. If you are giving a gift and are open to your recipient exchanging gifts, be sure to include a “gift” receipt with the gift to make exchanges easie. 

It’s always nice to extend to others what we wish for ourselves as well. 


The holidays are a perfect time to sell items you no longer need or want, including newly acquired gifts. 

Website and app sales forums like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, and NextDoor allow users to offer items for sale locally without taking any fees. 

If you don't feel like taking the time to sell your item in person, Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp offer shipping options in addition to sites like eBay, Poshmark, or Etsy. 

It goes without saying that if you decide to sell your unwanted gifts, use caution and be wary of scams and theft


Almost everyone likes getting gifts so enjoy your holiday gift-giving and receiving—just stay present and true to yourself so you don’t overload yourself and your home with unwanted clutter.

Being thoughtful and alert leading up to the holidays will mean less cleaning up when the festivities are over. 

And remember that everything you put off today—deferred decisions IS the definition OF clutter—will just become your headache by December 27. 

This year, try a different strategy for releasing any unwanted things instead of procrastinating OR indulging in holiday fever and the temporary rush of opening presents that will only create a bigger mess later. 

And if you want even more inspiration and instruction on what to do with your unwanted items, check out our previous article, "72 Resources For Getting Rid of Stuff.” 

With all of these resources, you should have no trouble finding a new home for unwanted gifts and keeping your home from become overly cluttered this holiday season.

Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!