“If a gift has come to you wrapped in obligations and tied tightly with a ribbon of guilt, then it's not really a gift at all.” -Peter Walsh
Why is giving so tied up with guilt? Guilt about overspending, guilt about underspending, guilt about having to give equal gifts to various people, guilt about giving in proportion to what you’re getting, guilt about not liking a gift you received…the guilt list is as long as Santa’s list!
Of all of the gift guilts, the one that causes the most consternation is the problem of receiving a gift you don’t love.
For our first Christmas as a married couple, my husband really wanted to delight me. I gave him several not-so-subtle hints that I had my eye on a chocolate brown Persian lamb coat in a local vintage shop.
I couldn’t hide my excitement on Christmas morning when he handed me a box stamped with the shop’s logo. Lifting the lid, my face fell when I pulled out a mangy-looking, poison-yellow rabbit fur jacket. Seriously, what was he thinking?!
Realizing that his bargain-bin risk had not paid off, Doug quickly thrust another box at me—the one containing my longed-for coat. Phew!
Haven’t we all received a gift that missed the mark? Of course! And just because we don’t like a gift, doesn’t mean that we don’t love the giver. Gifts are a symbol of our affection for and appreciation of one another, but the object isn’t the emotion.
Whether you’re the giver or the recipient, dispense with the guilt. Here’s how to reframe your thinking.
1. Gift receipts are a MUST.
They acknowledge that perhaps you didn’t get it quite right and give the recipient permission to exchange for something that suits them better. Train your relatives to ask for gift receipts when they shop, especially for kids’ gifts.
2. Regifting is totally fine.
Just make sure the recipient would actually like it. Otherwise, you’re just passing around the proverbial fruitcake. Once a gift is given to you, it’s yours to do with as you see fit.
3. Donating a gift is actually an act of generosity.
If you don’t want it, you can’t return or exchange it, and you don’t know someone who would absolutely love it, then by all means donate it. Spread the love around by giving it away while it’s still in mint condition. Its ultimate owner will be thrilled to come across such a find!
NOTE: Your local Buy Nothing group is a great way to find someone who wants your gift. These “give where you live” groups on Facebook allow you to gift items you no longer need to people near you.
Finally, if you're still feeling guilty about letting go of a gift you don't love here's another aphorism from the ever-quotable, inspiring organizer Peter Walsh:
“A gift should be something freely given that enhances your life and reminds you lovingly of the giver. If it's not, you simply should not give it a place in your home."