Ideas for Unused Christmas Gifts

It's great advice to do your Christmas Shopping throughout the year. My immediate family is large, my husband and I and 4 kids. What do you do when you have bought these gifts for extended family members that you have exchanged gifts with for years, and then a couple of weeks before Christmas they announce that they do not want to exchange or members ask to draw names?

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I understand why they do not, most of the rest of our families are small or have no children. So I guess that it's too expensive to buy for my family. Now I've got all of these gifts stored and what am I going to do with them? I can't return them because I bought them too long ago, and some are regifts. So they sit basically gathering dust. It's very frustrating. When someone asks to not exchange, I can't say "No! You have to buy for us because I already bought your presents!"

Last year I went ahead and gave some of the presents even though it was with persons that asked to not exchange. I don't really feel good about giving presents to family members that don't want to exchange with us. This is not thrifty at all!

Amy from Columbus, OH

November 5, 20080 found this helpful

You could donate them to Goodwill, or the Salvation army, or any thrift store. It's for a good cause, and if you get a receipt you can write off what you paid for the gifts on your taxes.

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November 6, 20080 found this helpful

I don't think there's anything wrong with nicely saying "Oh dear! I wish I would've known earlier that we were not exchanging gifts as I've already found something for each of you."

I keep a "gift cabinet" of stuff I buy throughout the year on super clearance. I usually can find gifts for random family members in the gift cabinet---who knows if they'll like it but it didn't cost me much! Then if they don't exchange, I just put it back in the cabinet.

Besides Salvation Army and GoodWill, look for an organization called The Giving Toybox in your area (or another organization that does something similar). They collect gently used toys (and new if you want) to help families who cannot buy for their children for the holidays. Items are priced with tickets and parents are given a certain number of tickets based on how many kids they have and how many overall toys were donated. Then the parents have a "shopping day" to select items for their children.

I'm sure that many charities would like your unused items if you can't re-gift them again. Good Luck!

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November 6, 20080 found this helpful

Definitely donate. There are all kinds of causes and homeless shelters often are forgotten.

Start a new tradition and pass the word on during this season that you have a new family tradition from here on where there will no longer be gifts given or accepted from beyond your family of six except the gift of sharing time together.

Christmas is overly commercialized and the reason for the season has been all but forgotten and people place themselves in debt and a frenzy trying to keep up with the Jones. My family and friends stopped gift exchange about a decade ago and we have a much nicer, relaxing holiday because of it.

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November 6, 20080 found this helpful

It seems to me IMHO that gift giving is a way that we can show the people we love that we love and appreciate them. It seems like giving a gift with the expectation of getting one back is not really giving. If you have to look through your gifts and find stuff for someone without really picking it out for them it defeats the true purpose of giving a gift. I would say if you had already picked something out for them, give it to them anyway.

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November 7, 20080 found this helpful

You could sell them on Craig's list perhaps.

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November 7, 20080 found this helpful

How about using them for birthday gifts for the person you bought each gift for?

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November 7, 20080 found this helpful

After the first of the year, I will post on the twelve days of Christmas; it will make more sense then. I used to work for a social servce agency, and tried to help folks organize their finances. One recommendation I had was that any changes in or about Christmas should be announced IN JULY for just the reason you have expressed.

Having said that, since you already have gifts, please call Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army, or whatever social service agency you have and see if they have an adopt-a-family program. The economy, being in the reprehensible shape that it is, will have many families who won't be having a very merry Christmas. It will give you the true spirit of the holiday, and make the season a little brighter for those in need. We do this every year.

One thing you can do if you want to remember people for the season, is at Thanksgiving, exchange a homemade Christmas decoration. In the future you will have a reminder of your family at Christmas.

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November 7, 20080 found this helpful

I like the idea of going ahead and giving the gift. Thrift has nothing to do with Christmas - other than trying to find a good buy for your money. Gifts are given as gifts and nothing should be expected in return. Otherwise you're just exchanging one idea for another idea. Kinda like giving money at Christmas. What if you gave someone a $20 bill for Christmas and then when you opened their gift, they'd given you a $20 bill. In the long run who really gave a gift?

Just give the gift.

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November 7, 20080 found this helpful

Saving them for birthdays is a good idea if the gift is appropriate. Otherwise, the extended family needs to make a decision for the future. Many adults do stop exchanging gifts or they change the way they give gifts. I have friends who's families do a gift card exchange. Each person who wants to participate purchases a gift card for a set amount (I think $25) to local stores or restaurants.

They try to wrap them creatively for fun and then they place them in a pile and each person gets to choose one. Another family I know does a $5 gift exchange. They buy gifts for each other but the gifts can only cost up to $5. It allows them the joy of gift giving without breaking the bank. You may want to suggest these alternatives. But either way, they should be considerate and let you know their wishes well in advance of the holidays. Good luck and Merry Christmas

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November 8, 20080 found this helpful

In most cities, there are numerous "giveing trees" in the malls, etc.

Read the gift requests, and if anything can be given to brighten someone's Holidays or take some stress off of them, then pay your good fortune forward.

Sometimes, without wanting anyone to know, an adult will ask for something specific...just so they can give it to someone they love. It's a way of "passing up something for me so I can make someone elses Christmas special".

Because I am low income, too, I try and pick things that I can make or might have purchased at home and don't need to get now.

I love the Birthday, Anniversary or MOM's and DAD's day ideas!

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November 8, 20080 found this helpful

Hey , you can always send them to me. Love presents. All joking aside, there will be a time when you will again exchange gifts or have the need for the items. Hang on to them if you have the room. You might even find that you will need something from your goodie box and you will have it.

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November 8, 20080 found this helpful

If you are really in a pinch and can't bear to give them away, you could sell them on ebay or craig's list. Another option is to give something to people who really mean something to you that you normally wouldn't have been able to give a gift to--a teacher, someone at church, the mailman...

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November 10, 20080 found this helpful

Because money is really tight for whole family we only buy for the kids. But last year I had collected quite a few items that I found really really cheap or even free. We had some family friends over for Christmas also. So after the kids opened all their gifts, I had everyone play a game. Whomever won would pick a gift out of the bag, sight unseen, then the next person to win could either draw another gift, or "steal" the persons gift from before them and that person would have to redraw another gift. It took us about an hour or so to play and everyone had a blast. It was hilarious watching people stealing someone elses gift. Especially when my brother ended up with bath beads.

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November 10, 20080 found this helpful

Micksgirl- I really like your idea about using the gifts as prizes for a game. Can you tell me more about the game you played? Thanks!

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November 13, 20080 found this helpful

I, too, have a gift closet. As the holidays near, I go thru the closet to inventory what I have. When I find things that are no longer appropriate or sometimes duplicate, I sort them into piles. Children appropriate are take to local children's home, the children's hospital or the the womans shelter. Other gifts are taken to nursing homes for those who may not have family.

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