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What do you do with gifts you don't like?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Both gifts for YOU that you don't like, and gifts people got your kids that you don't like? And does it make a difference if you don't like the gift but your kids do?

I guess I'm thinking in part about just whether you re-gift or try to exchange or sell at a garage sale or what, but also, what if your parents give your child a toy you can't stand to have in your house? Do you get rid of it? In a sneaky way or are you up front about it? And what if your child really loves it?

And what kinds of gifts get that treatment in your house?
post #2 of 17
I am pulling out some gifts to share with the holiday helper program. If you don't mind paying to ship a few things there are forum families that can really use them.

Just see the "I Have Available" thread in the holiday helper forum.

I have also started making room for new toys by gathering unused toys to give away. It is amazing how much can accumulate between birthdays and Christmas. It makes me realize how nice it is to just add to sets instead of buying completely new stuff.
post #3 of 17
I return or donate stuff I don't like or can't use. If my kids like a gift and I don't, I let them keep it unless I have a moral objection or it's gigantic and we don't have the space. But by "moral objection," I mean if someone gave my 9-year-old a rifle or something, not just a general ban on stuff like plastic or noisy toys.

There are a few things I'll return or donate from this Christmas. I was given a lovely mini scone pan, and I used it this morning, but I found it much harder to try to force the scones to fit in the mold rather than just doing free-form wedges on a flat pan like I usually do. So, although it's a really nice pan and was thoughtfully selected, I just won't use it again so I might as well return it.

Also, my sweet DH knew I wanted some Toms so he got me 3 pairs!! Two is more than enough, so I'll exchange one and get some slippers instead, since I really need a new pair of those.
post #4 of 17

I work at a peds hospital. I routinely will donate unopened gifts to the toy closet on my unit. My dd's get a lot of puzzles and arts and craft kits and if they are not used within a few months-- or if they say they will never use them-- they get donated. My own gifts-- I just quietly donate or regift, explaining I got this as a christmas gift, do you want it? 

post #5 of 17

It is difficult to deal with children's gifts that are obnoxious, but I can't defend getting rid of the toy if the recipient likes it unless it is supremely problematic, like limabean stated. My dd is only two, so after a while, she stops using certain toys. At that point, I might quietly slip it out of the house. I already cycle her toys because we have limited space in our apartment, so it is easy to filter through things. But as she gets older, this won't be an option in my mind. I was thinking then I might explain that we only have enough room for "x" amount of stuff. I also want to encourage a philanthropic spirit in her so that she willingly donates some belongings to others.


The best thing is to work to curb the gift giving before it happens. I usually tell people I would prefer pictures, or a letter, their favorite recipes or poems, books, or anything handmade.


So the kinds of gifts that get the treatment: large things, loud things, toxic things, books or videos that promote consumer lifestyle. For example, my MIL sent her a ton of battery operated animals in her first year. Then we asked her  to stop. Anyhow, first I cycled them into the closets, then I donated them or traded them in at the kid consignment store.


Since then, Dh and I have been pretty straight forward about what we like (wooden puzzles, picture books, safe art supplies) We don't require new stuff, but we almost always receive new. And usually we pick a theme of sorts and let our families do there thing. This Christmas it was puzzles and books. For her birthday, art supplies and wooden food. Of course, we got plenty more that didn't fall into these categories. Now I feel that we are saturated with stuff so I might switch to another tactic for 2014: passes to things, like the children's museum, zoo, botanical gardens, aquarium; also dress up supplies, which can just be things that people have around their house like costume parts, scarves, hats, old glasses frames, masks etc. I was also thinking about camping gear or outside adventure stuff (sleeping bag, nature observation stuff, etc). As she gets older, I may ask for family to help build her savings account if they really really want to spend money. Or help save for a trip to come see them. But family members like giving actual objects!


As for stuff that I don't like? I re-gifted one thing to a white-elephant party. I re-gifted a pair of earrings to an aunt that I knew would like them.  I donate, I give away to friends, or I use the gift for parts (for example, if I receive clothes I would never wear, I might up-cycle or re-purpose them). This is just how it goes if you have limited space, selective taste, or are particular about contents/message of a toy, etc.

post #6 of 17

We have so much stuff (mostly kids toys), that I actually appreciate gifts I don't like now. If someone gives us a high quality toy, I feel like I need to save it for all possible future children, maybe even grandchildren. If someone gives us a loud, plastic, battery-operated, or just plain obnoxious toy, I think, "Great, I don't have to keep this long!" Before every Christmas and birthday I make my kids pick out some toys they don't want anymore to make room for all the new stuff they're going to get. Usually, we agree on what to give away without any issues. Unwanted things usually stick around anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, but I don't mind because (a) I feel totally confident telling the gift-giver their toy was enjoyed if it ever comes up, which it almost never does and (b) even while the unwanted object is in my house, taking up space, I think of it as expendable.


Primarily we donate toys to Goodwill, neighbors, family members, and a local pyschological clinic for children and I tell my kids we're giving away the stuff to kids who aren't as lucky as them. However, occasionally, when I'm desperately wanting to make a purge between holidays and birthdays, I tell my kids we're going to have a "garage sale" and sell the stuff. They're too young to really know what a garage sale is, so I end up donating the stuff anyway, but I let them buy a new $15-$20 toy later with their "earnings". (The first time I really was intending to have a garage sale, but didn't have the motivation to follow through.)


My main problem now is that despite not really being vocal about it, most of our close friends and family have caught on to the types of gifts I prefer (simple, wooden, all-natural, etc.) such that I almost feel overrun with things I DON'T want to give away, which is not really something to complain about.

post #7 of 17
Originally Posted by Springshowers View Post

I am pulling out some gifts to share with the holiday helper program. If you don't mind paying to ship a few things there are forum families that can really use them.

Just see the "I Have Available" thread in the holiday helper forum.


Holiday Helper will run through January 15, 2014, so please contribute any unwanted or unneeded gifts! Here's a link to the I Have Available list.

post #8 of 17

Varies a lot. I return, regift, take to the consignment shop, take to thrift store, sell on CL, Holiday Helper, regift, or ebay. I am pretty ruthless about kid's toys- batteries never get replaced, etc. 

post #9 of 17
Quote: by JudiAU
 I am pretty ruthless about kid's toys- batteries never get replaced, etc. 

That's what I do... once the battery is gone, so is most of the magic. Then you have a clunky, heavy thing, that isn't as cuddly as other stuff. Good way to cycle toys out!

post #10 of 17
I have pretty limited space and clutter makes me feel agitated, so I have no qualms with purging things that I don't need/want.

I first try to return the item. If it is something that I can't return but is worth $20+, I may try to sell it on a local classifieds website (similar to Craigslist). If it is something that cannot be returned or sold, then I typically donate it to a thrift store (similar to Goodwill).

Life feels better with less stuff!
post #11 of 17

If my kids love it but I don't, then I've learned to just ignore the toy. If it is something that just sits, it goes. That goes for things that I love but the kids don't. :eyesroll I constantly go through our toys and get rid of them once they have lost interest. The toys I keep to pass from kid to kid are things like trains, wooden blocks, puzzles, etc... other then that nothing is spared. Once the youngest child loses interest or is too old that that type of toy, it leaves my house as well. I don't save anything, it isn't possible with four children in a small space. 

post #12 of 17

I save all the gifts from Birthdays and Xmas each year that my kids receive  -- that go untouched and in their original packaging.  When their school is collecting toys in December for needy families, all those toys I have saved go into that box.  I unloaded a lot last December.  It felt wonderful. 

post #13 of 17

i have some who give just aweful gifts. rather used to.


i always see the emotion behind the gift. that really defines the gift for me. if its given with a lot of love and emotion and even if its crap i will keep it. 


there are some who just dont get it no matter what i say. i will still keep those gifts if dd plays with them - even if i dont like it. because i know they have tried their hardest to get that gift.


the thing is i have never really had gifts (either me or dd) from people who dont really care. nothing giving with anamosity. 

post #14 of 17

I know that this puts me in the minority, but I don't keep gifts that I don't approve of or like.  I was very explicit with all of my family about I would keep, and have told them point blank that I would not keep any toys for my children that did not fit the parameters i set.  It helps that I am very close with my family and my in laws, so-- while they think I am crazy--we can have a candid discussion about it and they either respect my rules or realize it's pointless to try to get around them. 


What I have not figured out, and know will be difficult, is the gifts that will start coming from people we don't know that well.  This year it was my mother's friend who gave us a" little mermaid lego set."  I didn't have the heart to refuse it and hurt her feelings.  The problem was easily solved-- when my daughter was not looking I took out the figures, canoe and single branded brick--and left the other legos. My daughter never noticed or remembered that it came with figures.  But she is not yet two. I know next year and the ones after that will be far more challenging. I will have to decide whether to tell people before they give things to my child ( ie while the person is there gift in hand) that I need to see and approve the gift. This seems awkward for all parties involved and its difficult to explain to people that have no idea at all that anyone might object to these gifts. Or I can tell my child afterward that they can not have the gift (which sounds not much better but is probably the way that I will go.) Any advice on how to do either of these gracefully would be appreciated.


To keep these situations to a minimum I don't think we will allow gifts at birthday parties but I have not yet decided on that---It's nice to have a child look forward to a birthday party without thinking about what they are getting too... I think... like i said my child is so small that we are still working this out.  


I know that people give gifts with good intentions so I respect and honor the intention, i don't want to embarrass anyone,  but I see no reason to be burdened with gift I do not like or approve of both for myself and my children-- I mean they would not want us to have a gift if they knew it was going to make us upset-- people give gifts to make people happy.  

Edited by Taqah - 1/9/14 at 2:35pm
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by Taqah View Post

I will have to decide whether to tell people before they give things ie while the woman is there gift in hand that I need to see and approve the gift (which seems awkward for all parties involed and difficult to explain to people that have no idea at all of why I might object to these gifts) or tell my child afterward that they can not have the gift (which sounds not that much better but probably the way that I will go.) Any advice on how to do either of these gracefully would be appreciated.

I've heard of people having book exchange parties, or art supply parties to steer guests toward the purchase of a particular item (and thus away from the purchase of other items). Saying something like, "No gifts necessary, but art supplies are always appreciated if you'd like to bring something!" or asking each child to bring a wrapped book and having them all do an exchange (so everyone goes home with a book instead of the birthday kid keeping them all) might work.

Definitely be gracious about any gift presented in person, no matter what it is.
post #16 of 17
I realize that this example is a bit different than the kid gift issue; but, I think it may fit in the same category:

I do not drink coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages for religious reasons. I never drink any of those items, and I do not use them in cooking either. If someone gives me them as a gift, they are of absolute zero use to me and I will never use them.

My family members and close friends know this, and they do not give me those items as gifts. However, I have received these items as gifts many times from acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, distant relatives, etc.

When gifts are given, they are almost always given with the intention of being kind. They are not given to offend. When I receive these gifts, I simply smile and say "Thank you!" Then I pass the gift on to someone who can use it.

The same thing should go for children's gifts. Thank the person for the gift and don't make a scene. If they've already arrived, I think it is inappropriate to require "pre-approval" before giving it to the child. Just be gracious about it and say thank you. The gifts don't need to be a burden--just stick them in the goodwill pile and drop them off at your next visit (or even on your way home).

I do like the idea of having "no gifts" birthday parties, particularly if you do not want the type of gifts that are usually given to young children.

As your child gets older, involve her in the discussion and set up a plan ahead of time. It's important to set expectations. You could talk with the child about why _______ toys aren't allowed in the house, and ask her for ideas about what to do with the toys. Maybe she could choose where to donate them. Perhaps she wants to dismantle them or do science experiments with them. Help her learn to always be gracious, even if it is a gift that she knows that she will not be able to keep.
post #17 of 17

Say thank you. I let my kids have the gifts. It would be a rare item I would not let them keep - box of razor blades perhaps. :wink My 7yo DD is into monster high barbie dolls. Hideous things - projecting an image of not just anorexically skinny, perfect body, but also fishnet stockings and whore makeup to go along with it. But I've let her have two, because she wants them and her friends have them and they like to discuss them. She plays with them, but not very often, so they are not a major influence in her life. Something to talk about at school - which monster high doll they have….


If you live a generally healthy life, are open to discussion, are kind to others - these are the messages our kids learn day in and day out. And a trashy doll that lasts 6 months isn't going to change that. 


I also reserve crazy gift giving from my mom. My parents are 12 hours away via airplane, so we only see each other one week a year. I consider one week a year a special occasion, so special rules apply. My mom loves to buy clothes for DD, and I even encourage her to buy the stuff DD loves - a hot pink fake fur purse, a gymnastic outfit with so many sequence on it my eyes hurt. My mom gets great joy in having fun buying this crazy stuff and oh how my DD loves it. There is a lot of love going on. If we saw my mom every month, then of course we would have different guidelines. And I am lucky that I have a mom that also understands that - if she thinks it is over the top she will ask me first. 

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