What are you doing with all those unwanted gifts?
Deck the halls and fill the cupboards; despite the pre-Yuletide complaints from some shops Christmas is invariably a multi-billion dollar smorgasboard of retail excess.
The question, though, is what to do with all that stuff once you’ve unwrapped it?
Because it’s not like we truly need a lot of it.
A report last month by The Australia Institute estimated that last year six million of us - around one in three - received one or more Christmas presents that we never used and later disposed of.
The value of those unwanted gifts was around $800 million.
And this year, eBay has estimated that those numbers have increased; more than half of us have received at least one unwanted gift – in fact, 19 million gifts all up – that are, well, let’s just say not to our taste.
So what to do with all this unwanted largesse? It’s the thought that counts – but sometimes you have to wonder just what that thought was!
Let me be very clear here that I’m not talking about the bedsocks knitted by your great-grandma or the colour-clashing finger painting, which could be a self-portrait or could be a car, done by your nephew.
These are items that are lovingly created and – even if they’re not exactly appealing – should be treasured nonetheless. I’m also not talking about the gifts that people have put a lot of thought and time into choosing, but which have just somehow missed the mark.
I’m talking, instead, about the millions of dollars worth of gifts that we buy for other people, in the full knowledge that the recipient probably won’t like or want them.
According to The Australia Institute, around 25 per cent of us who do this – buy gifts that we expect will be unused or regifted by the recipient.
“The growing culture of obligatory giving only brings joy to the big retailers and the big banks whose credit cards are largely funding the annual splurge,” says The Australia Institute’s Executive Director, Dr Richard Denniss.
So as I said, what to do with this unwanted largesse? Well, I guess you could:
• Exchange. Of course, in many instances this would involve asking for the receipt, thus letting the giver know in no uncertain terms that it’s a “thanks, but no thanks” from you in relation to their choice of gift.
• Regift. But really, if you didn’t want the item then what are the chances that any of your friends, who probably have similar taste to you, are going to want it either? If you are going down the regifting route though, make sure that you stick a postit note with the giver’s name to the item before you hide it in the cupboard. Nothing worse than regifting back to the same person.
• Grit your teeth and use it. Probably the politest option … with the downside being that the giver will assume (possibly contrary to their expectations) that you love it. This raises the likelihood that you’ll be given a similar monstrosity, perhaps in a different colour, the following year.
• Sell it. A popular option, with eBay expecting around one million of us to sell unwanted gifts online after Christmas Day. This option has the benefit of not requiring you to use or store the item and recouping some benefit without having to ask for a receipt. And one person’s Christmas trash is another person’s New Year treasure!
• Store it. This may well be the most common of all the options, but the cost of providing all that storage space well outweighs the benefit of holding onto the item. How many cupboards could you free up if you disposed of the stuff that you don’t use?
How about you? What do you do with unwanted Christmas gifts? And – be honest – did you buy any gifts that you expected the recipient to not really like?
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