How to Deal with Gifts You Don’t Want or Need

How to deal with gifts you don't want or need

No More Gifts! Families Maxed Out with Gift Clutter

We all receive them, gifts we do not like, do not want, or need. Years ago, someone gave me a moose business card holder. The person who gave me this gift thought as a business owner I could use a place to display my business cards. Maybe she liked wildlife themed décor or maybe she was regifting it because she did not like it herself. Either way, I accepted the gift gracefully and never used it. No doubt we have all been in this situation.

One of our GO Organizers asked me for my advice on “How to handle gifts when you and your kids are maxed out.” It can be a challenge to find the balance between being grateful for the thought and offending family and friends by telling them not to give you any more gifts. I offer you some suggestions that may not eliminate the unwanted gift clutter, but it will certainly help you make better decisions about what you receive.

Family Gift Survey

1) Pick a family member to create a gift survey to be sent to the entire family. This survey can be used for any celebration where gifts might be exchanged. Questions should be about general likes and dislikes. Examples: What is one thing you collect? Is there anything you would not want to receive? A person could answer, “I would not want to receive decorative items.” There are websites that allow you to create surveys and share results. Check out the following survey sites: Free Online Surveys, Survey Monkey, All Accounted.

Regifting Closet

2) Establish a gift closet or area where you can store gifts you purchased on sale or you or your family received but do not want or need. Be sure to attach a sticky note to gifted items stating who gave you the gift so you do not re-gift it to the wrong person. Oops!

Experience Type Gifts

3) Make an agreement with your close family and friends that going forward all gifts given will be consumable or experience type gifts. Communicate each year to see what friends and family enjoy eating/drinking or what they like to do for fun. This type of gift does not take up permanent storage space. Examples could be: memberships, spa days, Groupon deals, treat baskets, licenses or certification fees, subscriptions, and more.

Open a Few Gifts at a Time

4) When it comes to your kids getting gifts, try not to be the parent who states on the invite that gifts are not wanted by your child. Instead, here is a strategy I used with my boys. At certain times during the year when they received a great deal of gifts (birthday, Christmas) we had a family rule. They unwrapped all their gifts to thank the giver but could choose only four gifts to play with at that time. The rest had to go up in the top of their closet. At other times of the year when they were home and bored, they could bring down one of the gifts. This was great on multiple levels. a) they had something to look forward to, b) they made the fun of the new gifts last longer, c) it saved clean up time by having fewer gifts opened and out in the play area, d) they appreciated the toys given to them more as I reminded them of the giver.

Get One, Give Away One

5) One new toy received, means one old toy given away. If your child is old enough to understand this concept, remind them before their birthday or a holiday. They can make a choice to keep the new gift or let it go to keep their older toys. The giveaways can be regifted or donated to charity.

Keep it Organized

6) Staying organized in any space requires you to tidy up sometimes. I reorganize spaces from time to time to keep them looking great. Use this thought process to teach your children how to be organized and stay organized by decluttering toy areas and giving items to others who might enjoy them. It is a skill that will be useful for life.

Set an Example

7) Be the example for your family. If you want the moms of your kids’ friends to give clutter-free gifts, then start doing it yourself. Maybe you will start a new trend in your family and friend circles.

While there is no easy way to say “No More Gifts” without someone being offended, there are ways to start new traditions or set new guidelines to scale back on gift clutter. If nothing changes at all, I guess you could look at it with the glass half full; at least you will have a happy, fun cluttered home.


Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of Get Organized! Get Organized! is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. Get Organized! specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management. A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine,, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more information about Lorraine, visit  You can connect with Get Organized! on Facebook, follow Get Organized! on Twitter and connect with Lorraine Brock on LinkedIn.




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