How to Let Go of Unwanted Gifts

How to Let Go of Unwanted Gifts


Oh, the happiness to receive a gift. “What’s inside!?”

Isn’t it the most wonderful feeling when you start to rip off that pieces of paper and cellotape or ribbon to see what’s inside the gift? It really brings a childlike feeling out in you, right!? If it’s a wonderful gift that you absolutely love, then that happy feeling lasts for a while, but for how long? Has this wonderful gift ended up in a top cupboard, the garage, the spare room or right at the bottom of some box somewhere in your house?

Oh yes, but then there is the occasional disappointment gift: ‘Noooooo, not another one of those!’ or ‘Was this bought at the 50% sale?’. With a happy and satisfied smile on your face, you thank the giver but then days, weeks, months or even years later you think…. What must I do with this? I can’t just give it away or let it go because it was a “GIFT”.

At SORTED, we tap a lot into this scenario when we do decluttering for clients. Clients are sometimes very reluctant to let go of gifts. Gifts generally have the meaning of “I am thinking of you”, “Thank you” or “I love you”.   Often one feels no attachment or have no use for it but one still feels obligated to hold on to it. Why?

Gift giving dates back thousands of years as far back as man can remember. As human beings, we are social creatures who enjoy each other’s company and expressing our feelings through the giving of gifts. Whether it’s an expression of true love, appreciation of a job well done or just to show our gratitude for having someone as a friend, the giving of gifts is engrained into our DNA.

Thank goodness, we are done and dusted with the primitive cavemen/women period. We would have received unusually shaped rocks, a tooth from an animal, the bark from a tree or some other item that was natural in origin. But what stayed throughout the years is the fact that emotion is attached to a gift and it’s not really about the gift itself.

The psychology of why gift giving is so rewarding is very simple. It allows us humans to connect.

The giver of a gift expresses their feelings and emotions by sending a gift with the hope of being able to share these with the receiver of the gift. The receiver of the gift in turn receives the feelings and emotions and with this a connection is made. Making connections with people around us gives us a sense of purpose and feeling of satisfaction. This feeling is one that enlightens the soul and brings out the best in us. There is an old saying “it’s better to give than receive” and it has a special meaning especially when the realisation of the benefits that it provides to those who give.

Research has been done extensively on why the feelings of wellbeing occurs when we give gifts to our special people. Here are some to mention:

We Feel Happy:

Simply put, the giving of gifts can make a person feel happier about themselves as well as to the person that has received their gift. In studies where people were asked to give gifts as a part of an experiment, the result was that people actually felt better and happier about their own lives.

Improve State of Mind:

Research suggests that giving gifts may improve a person’s state of mind. If giving a gift makes you feel happier with a sense of purpose then this may inevitably improve your state of mind.

Greater Social Connection:

By giving a gift, you’re not only expressing your feelings but building a stronger connection to that person as well. Not only does the person receiving the gift feel closer to the giver, but vice versa as well. This greater social connection also means an improvement in the state of being as well as overall happiness.

It’s Contagious:

When a person starts giving gifts, not only will the recipient become more likely to give, those around them who see this act will start giving as well. This is in part due to the release of the endorphins, which not only benefits the giver, but is also felt by those who receive and see the act of giving as well.

In all of this, you can see the great benefit of giving rather than only being on the receiving side, right? So, we encourage you to go through your items and give all the unnecessary stuff away – this will make you feel great!

I hope you can also see that it’s not really about the gift itself, but the emotion attached to the act of giving.

When you are on the receiving side of a gift, accept the gift with love. Ask yourself afterwards:

Will I use it?

Do I actually like it?

Is it functional?

Is this gift actually giving a feeling of happiness and joy to me?

Do I have more than one of these items?

If you don’t have a yes to these questions, let it go along with the guilt of letting it go.  Hold on to the memory and make sure you do not let the guilt engulf you.

But then you might think: “I do not want to hurt his or her feelings.” Yes we get it! Letting go of a gift or several gifts is not a rejection of the person and therefore you do not need to feel guilty. Material items do not embody the memory of the giver, the gift is only an object. The person that gave you the gift still has a special place in your heart and your life. In this, you are still holding on to what’s important and that is the feelings that were exchanged – that’s the most important part of this gesture. You have permission to get rid of an unwanted gift – it’s ok!

If you are concerned that you will forget this gifted feeling, take a photo of the gift before you let it go. Promise, every time you scroll over the photo you will spark that wonderful feeling. Isn’t this better than the gift lying in the top cupboard and you don’t even see or “feel” it for months after receiving it?

So now we are giving it away. Consider selling or donating it. You can even re-gift it to someone that you feel will love it, use it and appreciate it. In return, the gift can be very meaningful and useful to the next recipient, thus continuing the cycle of giving but with a purpose of actually using or appreciating it.  It is almost certain the person that gave you the gift will not even notice that you do not have it any longer.

The solution to getting more gifts is to make it clear that you have a ‘no gift strategy’. Rather create memories through experiences with your loved ones.  A daytrip together, watching a movie together or a dual spa treatment. Connecting with someone holds more value than a gift. Life is about making memories and not how much possessions we can accumulate.  Think about it, when you go to the other side one day, none of these earthly items will be going with you.

A special gift has its place in your life and in your home, so enjoy and appreciate it. Treasure deep meaningful experiences because that truly lasts a lifetime and nobody can take that away from you.

Letting go of unwanted possessions is very liberating, try it!