What Should You Do With Unwanted Gifts? A Guide To Decluttering Your Space

As you use the quarantine time to clean out closets, are you finding gifts you forgot about?

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Have you spent time during the last many weeks organizing your home? I bet you're unearthing unwanted gifts from the back of closets, the attic, or your basement. If I had to guess, I'd say you still don't want them.

What are you going to do with these unwanted gifts now that you have found them? Should you donate them? The consignment and thrift stores aren't open right now. So, what's a person to do?


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As it happens, a friend of mine inadvertently provided me with a possible solution.

The other day, I received a package in the mail from a friend. I was both surprised and perplexed. My birthday's coming up, but we don't ordinarily exchange gifts.

Inside was a lovely old-fashioned book on all different kinds of needlework. I do lots of needlepoint, and I always have a project going. I was intrigued by this book and wondered what prompted my friend to send it to me.

There was a note inside the book that told me it had belonged to my friend’s grandmother. When her mother was cleaning out the grandmother’s house, she passed the book to my friend.


Now, she no longer feels a need to keep it. She didn't want to donate it to a thrift store, so she sent it to me because she knows I do a lot of needlepoint.

The note went on to say that if this was an unwanted gift or if I didn't want the book, I should feel free to donate or even toss it. This was a lovely gesture. This note gave me permission to either keep, donate, or toss the book.

It let me know that I should not feel obligated to keep it just because she gave it to me.

There are several lessons to learn here.

The first lesson is that when someone gives you something — if it's an unwanted gift, something you do not want or that you will not use — pass it on. If you keep it, you're only adding to the clutter in your home.


The person doing the giving has done their part. They gave you a gift. You have done your part in receiving the gift. Once you thank the person for the gift, your job is done.

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Even Marie Kondo agrees. Read her advice on what to do with unwanted gifts that do not spark joy.

When you receive an unwanted gift, it's up to you to decide what to do with it. You can stuff it in the back of a closet, in the attic, in the basement, or in the garage. You can donate it to an organization you support, or you can give it to someone who you think may like it.


Stuffing an unwanted gift somewhere in your home is a delayed decision. It may make you feel better in the short term, but you'll have to deal with it at some point.

I think this is what many of us are doing now that physical distancing has lasted this long. You have probably gone through and organized the areas in your home that you frequent often. You've pulled out a donation bag and placed the things you don't want and tossed the things that are broken.

You're starting to tackle the tough stuff. The things you've delayed making a decision about; all those unwanted gifts you stashed.

Then there are the things that belonged to relatives that perhaps you didn't truly want, but felt guilted into keeping because it belonged to someone you loved.


Take another look at those unwanted gifts. Is there someone you know who might love them? If there is, consider putting one or more of them in a box and sending it to them.

Here's the second lesson.

Put a note in the box giving the person permission to pass the gift on if it's something they don't want. When you let someone know they're free to pass something on, you're relieving them of any guilt they may feel by taking that action.


The last thing you want to do is guilt someone into keeping something only to add clutter to someone else’s home.

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Diana Quintana is a certified professional organizer and the owner of DNQ Solutions who teaches people how to become organized and maintain order in their lives. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website here.