holiday gift

How to Handle Gifts You Don’t Really Like

holiday gifts

Gifts can be all types of surprises!

The holidays, especially in December, usually involve gifting.  You take a gift to a relative’s house for them having you over for a holiday dinner.  Or you have a holiday dinner and you receive a bunch of gifts. And on Chanukah or Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, you give and receive gifts.

Gifts are probably one of the hardest items to discard.  You feel like this gift was special – maybe it came from your Dear Uncle John who is no longer with us.  Or maybe it came from your child who made it when she was in kindergarten.  The fact that it no longer is “whole” because it has broken or fallen apart seems irrelevant.  Your child made it – you have to keep it no matter how it looks.

The question here is – “Do you?”   

The issue really came home for me when Aunt Babe made me a needlepoint tissue box.  It was designed for a square tissue box, which we did use in the small guest bathroom.   Since I didn’t have one, I know she thought she was being “really sweet” to make one for me.  And I know she probably spent a lot of time needlepointing it.  While I truly appreciated the thought and the work that went into making it;, I still didn’t like it.

One reason I didn’t like it was that it wasn’t easy to clean.  In fact it was impossible. And people with colds would keep the virus hanging onto the tissue box since I couldn’t exactly clean it with Lysol.  But the main reason I didn’t like it was the colors.  At the time our guest bathroom was brown and cream wallpaper.  The tissue box was pink and white.   It absolutely didn’t fit with the décor. In fact you could say it certainly did stand out — just in the wrong way.

What to do? ….  What to do??

If I didn’t use it, I knew my great aunt would be hurt.  She came over for holidays and birthday parties, but otherwise she didn’t just drop in because we lived on the other side of the city in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Aunt Babe lived “in the city.”  We were probably a good hour drive apart.  Normally I would have donated something like this.  But I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  So on every birthday or holiday that Aunt Babe and Uncle Abe joined us; I took the tissue box out.  I displayed it in the bathroom during those times, and I put it under the sink, hidden in the cabinet, when they weren’t there.

When Aunt Babe passed on, I did donate it.  Just like I had donated the foam fruit stuck with needles and beads from my grandmother.  Some “decorating ideas” from those years just weren’t my taste.  I’m sure at some time, somewhere, someone used them, but they were not for me.

Toss It Rules

My usual rules are:

If the sentiment isn’t worth it, or you dislike cleaning it; let it go.  

My second rule is:  If it isn’t whole, let it go.  (read broken).

The third rule is:  If you can take a picture and enjoy that; let it go.

However, in the case of special items, sometimes you want to  compromise and find a way to not hurt feelings.  Taking it out for special occasions when the person visits was worth sparing Aunt Babe’s feelings.

If you really can’t stand it, there’s always the “dog ate it” or the “kids broke it” excuse.  Hopefully you don’t have to “fib” and can just discard those things that don’t give you pleasure.  If you don’t enjoy it, why keep it?  I hope your holidays give you the gifts you really like.  (PS  Cash is always great for kids, especially since we rarely understand what they w ant.)


Leave a comment below.  What gift did you receive that you should discard but still have?

What are you going to do about it?


Happy Holidays,





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