Got An Unwanted Gift: What Do You Do With It?

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t want? What do you do? You like to live simple. The unwanted gift doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Do you keep it? Or is it okay to let it go? I used to feel obliged to keep unwanted gifts, but since making a decision to live simple, I’ve learned to let things go.

My Unwanted Gift

A few years ago, my mom came to visit during the holiday season. I decided to cook a traditional turkey dinner for her and Annie. I didn’t own some of the kitchenware that was needed, like a roasting pan and a serving tray. I’d never cooked a turkey in my life. I tried to make do with what I had and it became a minor fiasco.

After we ate, I told my mom that I would never cook a large holiday dinner again. I told her that I thought American food traditions were excessive.

Read: Too Much Is Too Much, Even For Thanksgiving.

Still, the next time mom came to my house, she brought me her old roasting pan and a large serving tray. “Here,” she said, “the next time you cook a turkey, you’ll have what you need.”

“Thanks, mom.”

My mom may have thought I needed the extra kitchenware, but to me, it was an unwanted gift. My first thought was that it would just become unused kitchen clutter. Still, I graciously accepted.

What Do You Do With An Unwanted Gift?

I usually say, “no.” People try to give me stuff that they no longer want or need all the time. But chances are it’s nothing I want or need, either. I politely say something like, “I appreciate your offer, but I already have a toaster.” My mom just dropped the turkey stuff in my lap, and she’s my mom, so I kept it.

A gift is a gift. Once it’s given, the receiver should be able to decide whether they want to keep it or not.

Some givers don’t get it. Have you ever had someone ask you later about a gift they gave you years before? That’s my mom. Recently, my daughter and I went to visit mom. Within the first hour of our visit, she started talking about the roasting pan and the serving tray she’d given me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d already given them to charity.

Overcome the fear of losing everything: Give it away!

The Free Car That Wasn’t Free

Once, my father-in-law offered to buy his daughter and me a new car. We had just moved to Indiana for a new teaching job. I didn’t think we needed a second car, but my father-in-law insisted. He said it was his gift to us.

Two years later, I was offered a better job on the West Coast. “What will you do with my car?” my father-in-law asked. I told him that I would sell the car. “But I bought that car,” he replied. “You can’t sell it!”

I sold the car.

I bought another car when we got back to Washington. Later, my father-in-law claimed that the car that I’d bought was his, because it had replaced the gift he’d given us. It’s twisted logic, but it happens all the time. In the end, I paid for the gifted car.

It’s gracious to give someone a gift. It’s more gracious to give them the freedom to do with it as they choose.

I give things away regularly. Once I give something away, it’s gone. It’s no longer mine. I’ve released any emotional attachment to it. I don’t worry about what its new owner does with it. That’s none of my business. If they didn’t like the gift and took it to the county dump, so be it. If they pawned it for cash, they must have needed the money.

Feel Free To Let Unwanted Gifts Go

The next time you receive an unwanted gift, feel free to let it go. Give it to charity. Sell it. If the giver gets upset, it’s really their problem, not yours. If they’re upset, it means they didn’t give you the gift in the true spirit of giving in the first place.

They were still emotionally attached because they still saw the gift as a possession. Once you stop thinking of material things as possessions, you’ll always give freely. You won’t care what happens to it. It’s out of your hands.

For more tips on simple living, I have a gift for you. Don’t feel obliged to accept, but I think it will help you on your journey. It’s a free ebook:

The Happiness Of Simple


Dan Erickson

Dan Erikson is the passionate voice behind Hip Diggs, where he explores the art of living simply and intentionally. With a keen eye for minimalism and its profound impact on our lives, Dan delves into topics ranging from decluttering spaces to decluttering the mind. Drawing from personal experiences and a deep appreciation for the minimalist ethos, he offers readers practical insights and actionable steps to embrace a more meaningful, clutter-free life. When he's not penning down his thoughts on Hip Diggs, Dan enjoys the serenity of nature, reading, and exploring the nuances of simple living in a complex world.

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