There will be a lot of gifts exchanged over the next week or so. Hopefully, every gift you give or receive will resonate well and be loved and cherished for years to come.
But what if they aren’t?
As the gift-giver, unless you know the gift is something the recipient will love, love, love, please include a gift receipt and the additional gift of grace by inserting a hand-written note stating “This made me think of you. If it’s not to your liking, please feel free to return, exchange, sell, re-gift or donate. I only want you to be surrounded by things you cherish.”
Now, as the recipient, this gets a little trickier.
In my line of work, I see a lot of gifts that have missed the mark and are stashed in cupboards and closets never to see the light of day, taking up precious space for items that are truly valued.
Here’s a thought: Just because something is a gift, you are under no obligation to keep it. It’s your home. It’s your space. You get to choose what stuff stays in it.
So, you received a gift that’s not perfect, what’s to be done about it?
If someone feels close enough to you to give a gift, they certainly don’t want that gift to be a clutter burden in your home. They cared enough about you to give a gift, they want you to be happy, right?
If the gift-giver is someone close to you, they would be grateful to know that the gift missed the mark and they would want you to have something more to your liking to remember them by.
Here are some scenarios:
Aunt Grace gave you a sweater she bought that’s just not right: “Aunt Grace, this sweater is lovely, but it’s a color that just doesn’t look good on me. Would you mind if I returned it for something that is more “me?”
Aunt Grace gave you a sweater she hand-knit that’s just not right: “Aunt Grace, this is amazing! Thank you for your efforts. I love it!” Wear it a few times, take some pictures of you in the sweater, send them to Aunt Grace, then put the sweater in storage.
Cousin Bob gave you a painting he bought that’s not your style: “Bob, thank you so much for the painting. We’ve gone a different way with decorating our home, would you mind if I exchanged it for something that is a better fit?”
Cousin Bob gave you a painting he painted himself that’s not your style: “Bob, thank you so much for the painting. I can see the effort and love you put into it. Thank you.” Hang the painting in a less-used area of the house if Bob is a frequent visitor. If not, put it in storage. After a bit, you can tell Bob you’re going a different way in your decorating style and offer to return it to him or ask if there is another family member that would enjoy it.
For items that are a bit more generic, you have more options:
- Return/exchange: If you were fortunate enough to get a gift receipt, perfect! Feel free to return or exchange for something more to your liking. They gave you a gift receipt, they expect it may not be perfect, they want you to have something more to your liking. If you don’t have a receipt, graciously accept a store credit, you will more than likely find something to your liking in the future.
- Re-gift: This one is tricky. If you receive something you can’t return/exchange, but can’t use, put a note on the item indicating who gave it to you so you don’t re-gift to the same person or someone in that circle of family or friends. Feel free to re-gift, according to creditdonkey.com 82.8% of the survey respondents gave their approval to the practice. Or, here’s Dave Ramsey’s take on regifting: 10 Regifting Rules.
- Donate: If you absolutely can’t return, can’t think of anyone in your circle that you could regift to, feel free to donate the item. There will certainly be someone less fortunate that would use and cherish the item.
- Repurpose: Don’t care for the antique vase Aunt Edna gave you? Repurpose it into a change collector.
No matter what your decision, it is always good form to send a hand-written note acknowledging the spirit in gift-giver intentions.
Cindy Jobs, COC, ACC
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Attention Deficit Disorder Association
National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals, Seattle Chapter Vice-President
International Coach Federation
Institute for Challenging Disorganization
Level I Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization; ADD; Client Administration; Time Management; Mental Health; and Hoarding.
Level II Specialist Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization and ADHD