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How to Survive Being Given an Unwanted Gift

How to Survive Being Given an Unwanted Gift

Every minute we are awake we have potential to cause offence. Twice a year we are particularly susceptible to causing great offence: our birthday and at Christmas. How often have you opened a present and had to pull out your best poker face? It’s terrible for all concerned, but if you are successful with your poker face, it is only you that carries the burden of a gift that doesn’t cut the mustard.

The feelings an unwanted gift evokes range from deep guilt at not being able to appreciate the kindness that the gift was given in, to despair – does the giver not know you so well as to think that you would like it? What can you do?


Like the failed Oscar nominated actors who must suffer a rejection that is broadcast around the globe, you must fake it until you make it: practice your loser face. Remember to smile with your eyes too – the disappointment you feel will be given away by your eyes failing to express joy. If you master this, you may even get another gift next year.

If this is your preferred reaction to an unwanted gift, you now have options open to you as to what to do with it.

  • Regifting is both an environmentally sound choice, and an art in itself: you must ensure that the recipient is not original giver.
  • You can also donate to a chosen charity’s thrift store, this is a nice thing to do, and will ease your guilt of being so unappreciative.
  • You can sell your gift on eBay or a similar site. You will probably get far less than its true value, and feelings of guilt will probably persist.
  • If you have been given a gift card for a store that you don’t go to, you can easily sell your unwanted gift card on EJ Gift Cards.

Grow a back bone

This is perhaps the most challenging solution: be semi-honest and tell the gift giver that it isn’t appropriate. This is mainly suitable for gifts of clothing – typically when people give clothes as a gift they accompany it with mutterings of ‘if you don’t like it/it doesn’t fit I have the receipt’, use this immediately as a gateway of release. Do not go down the polite route of saying how nice it is. You can dress up your rejection in a semi-dishonest way by saying how nice it is, but you have one similar; or that it is the wrong size, but do be careful to avoid having to try it on in front of the giver. Your aim with this scenario is to get the receipt. Once you have the receipt you can exchange the gift for something that you do like, you can then give genuine thanks for it.

Your ability to handle the situation will increase as you get older; think back to the times when children are given gifts that they don’t like, they fail to hide the fact that they don’t like it, and whilst this can be highly embarrassing for the parent or caregiver as they have to smooth over the situation, their honesty is refreshing. Sometimes honesty is the best policy, but then again, sometimes it is not. When you are given a gift that you don’t like or won’t use, at least remember that you can genuinely thank the gift giver for their kindness and thoughtfulness, and these heartfelt thanks is all that they will remember.





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