What to Do With Terrible Holiday Gifts

Whether its for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or a combination of all three, no one wants a useless gift (i.e a chia pet, the clapper, an Ashanti CD). The only thing worse than opening up a package of homemade socks is opening up a package of homemade socks that were originally given to someone else. No one likes a re-gifter. But no one likes a gift changer either. Here’s how to stay away from being the only person who doesn’t get a secret Santa next year because no one wants to waste time getting you a gift you won’t like.

Tip 1: Don’t return a gift unless there’s a gift receipt.

While it might not seem like it during the brutal rush through stores, endless online searches and overwhelming amount of tacky gift wrapping, many people really are sincere about their gift giving. The last thing your roommate wants to find out is that you gave the camera that he gave you to your little sister to play with. It’s not okay to return a gift unless the giver gave you some sort of okay. It’s likely that he or she didn’t say it from the mouth. However, one sure way to know is if they’ve included a gift receipt. It’s the giver’s way of saying, “Hey if you can find something you like better in this same store, go ahead and get it. On me!” The gift receipt is an admission on the giver’s part that he or she doesn’t know your taste, but really wants you to have something you enjoy. So if there’s a gift receipt, take it back, guilt free.

Tip 2: Transform trash into treasure (got to love the alliteration there)

Sure no one wants a lifetime supply of dental floss. But what if you could turn that dental floss into the sturdy base of a necklace? Bad gifts don’t have to stay bad. There are so many ideas looming out there about what you can do with what seems on the surface a useless product. Get an arts and crafts book (you can pick up at the library) and get to work. You can make collages, reefs for next year, or just keep the kids busy for a couple of hours. Whatever creative thing you choose, don’t let that trash make a heap in the corner of a closet.

Tip 3: Follow the golden rule and Make a list

If you apply the “do unto others” motto to gift giving and receiving you should breeze through gift trauma. Try to think of the poor little heartfelt gift you just bestowed upon a loved one. How offended would you be if you went to your Aunt’s house to find the menorah you bought her last Hannukah in the “closet of shame.” So before you toss that Avon mitten set, think about the importance of the person who gave the gift to you. Make a list of all the things you can do with it. Circle three (if you have that many) of your best ideas. Come back to your list a few days later and pick one of the three things you can do. No gift is absolutely useless. Some of them just require more imagination than others.

Tip 4: Create a decoy

It isn’t always easy to see the potential in a gift when you feel the pressure to use it immediately in order to please the giver. If someone from your job gives you a horrible piece of clothing, for example, you do have to wear it at some point before Winter is over. There are ways to decoy wearing a piece of horrible clothing. You can either dress the clothing up to make it look as chic as possible, or you can come up with a way to look like you’re using it without ever wearing it. Imagine for example, a hideous chunky sweater with three different elaborate (and not the good elaborate) buttons placed down the middle. Instead of trying to figure out cute ways to wear it you could always use it as your emergency sweater. Leave it on the back of your chair or hanging on a visible hook where the giver can see it. You can keep it there for those days when it suddenly gets cold in the office (which is never). The giver thinks that you’re using it, and you never have to actually wear it.

Tip 5: Consider Gift Karma

What goes around comes around is true for many instances, including gift giving. The best way to avoid the biggest gift dilemma is to think strategically and sincerely when giving gifts. It’s okay to buy gift cards if you know that will save someone else the time of making a list. Remember that gift receipts are your friend. Certificates to restaurants never stop being great for people who like to eat out. Amount isn’t as important as intent. Be a firm believer in karma, and hopefully you won’t have to deal with having a hideous sweater parked on the back of your work chair.

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