Several years ago, my family solved the problem of unwanted gifts…
As is customary, we would gather at my sister’s house on Christmas Day to eat, enjoy each other’s company, and exchange presents. With the addition of new babies, the list of who to buy for was long and ever-expanding. We amended the gift policy, deciding to draw names and buy for one adult, but still purchase for all the kids.
A few Christmases ago we further amended that policy and as a result, have solved the “feeling good while getting rid of unwanted gifts” dilemma.
Our gift exchange for the adults is now a festive pile of creatively wrapped “White Elephant” gifts! We actually put as much effort into selecting which items make the cut as we would shopping for new stuff. And it is an eclectic little pile.
For example, my husband is an Assistant Principal at a middle school. At this time of year, he receives a lot of random small gifts. This year, amidst the little boxes of Turtles and Starbucks Gift Cards, he received a Karate Post-it Note dispenser. We wrapped it with care (with previously used holiday paper and saved up ribbons of course) and added it to our laundry basket of gifts to tote to my sister’s home Christmas Day. When my brother-in-law picked that gift to open, my nephew went crazy for it!
My elderly mother wrapped a patterned black and beige cotton scarf someone had given her that she found never matched her wardrobe. My daughter traded for it, put it on, and declared it perfect. It was!
My son, a budding fisherman, also traded over for a gift. My mother had opened a cheap little pocket knife that my sister confessed to adding to the mix because she thought my son would want it. She was right.
As these unwanted gifts and household items are opened, exclaimed over, and traded around, merry laughter fills the air.
In addition to recycled gifts, we have also been adding gently used clothing to our gift exchanges. This year, I brought a tastefully wrapped red cardigan from Eddie Bauer that felt outdated on me. I presented it to my mom who became quite excited, saying she really needed a cardigan like that. I also brought a sparkly black Ann Taylor shell top that just does not fit me properly. It think my sister grabbed that one.
The idea is that the items have new life. If even just for Christmas day. Yes, that re-gifted book might go unread, but it can be passed along in the next AMVETS donation box, or added to a Little Free Library. It seems the guilt is reduced, because the original recipient is not the one doing the actual donating.
In addition, we are modeling for the next generation that there is already enough to go around. You just have to look for it. And present it with love.
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