What to do with gifts that don’t fit your body, lifestyle, or values

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A gift is an outward display of love and affection.  I firmly believe that you can receive the gift, feel the love, and make that heart connection, no matter what the physical gift is.


I also firmly believe that you are not obligated to keep gifts that do not bring you joy or support the life you are trying to live. This does not make you ungrateful. Yes, someone spent time and money choosing the gift for you, but they wouldn’t want you to compromise your values to keep something that doesn’t fit… your body, your lifestyle, or your values.


You can be grateful and still not keep every gift you receive.


We’re all trying to build the life we want to live. I’m focused on a simple life, built on minimalist and sustainable values. It is a core value that I do not keep things in my life that do not bring me joy. And in general, stuff does not bring me joy.


So what do I do when someone gives me a gift that doesn’t support my life? I pass it on to someone who will appreciate it and use it!

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Here are my simple strategies for passing on gifts:

  1. Exchange or return it.

I think this can be done in a way that honors both the gift giver and my values. It might be important to be honest with the gift giver if you go this route, but I trust that if you approach the conversation with love and kindness, you’ll leave even more connected to each other. This is an especially good strategy if the color or style doesn’t fit your life, but the gift comes from a store that has other things that would fit you better.


      2. Regift it

I LOVE regifting things! It doesn’t have to be Christmas or their birthday, giving someone a gift on a non-holiday can be even more special! It’s worth noting that this is only a kindness if you truly believe the gift will be a blessing to someone else. Regifting at random just passes the clutter (or act of donating) on to someone else.


       3. Donate it

There are plenty of people in need these days. The gifts that don’t quite fit you could be very helpful for someone who is stretching to make ends meet. Donate unwanted things (maybe as part of a January clean out? see below for more on this) to your local charity of choice or directly to an individual in your community using online groups like Buy Nothing group on Facebook


I can’t help but highlight the opportunity that’s just below the surface this time of year… the annual purge, clean out, or whatever you choose to call the opportunity to review your accumulated stuff to make sure it is still truly bringing value to your life. If not, pass it on!


After Christmas is an especially good time to do this with kids. If you’re new to this sort of activity, give yourself grace and time (it might take longer and more energy than you think, but I swear it’s worth it to surround yourself with only things that fit your life) and consider approaching only one area of your house at a time. And if you need help, ask for it! I’m happy to support you on this journey and can design a one-on-one coaching program to meet your specific needs. Send me an email (at carbonfreefamily@gmail.com) or complete this form to start discussing the possibilities.


Also worth highlighting in a little more detail is the growing number (and value) of groups like my local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. If you’ve never heard of a group like this, the basic premise is such: the group is a platform for giving away and asking for things you need with NO exchange of money (or any sort of value, trades usually aren’t allowed either). You can give away just about anything you want, including stuff, services (like offering to cook a meal for someone or teaching someone to mend their own clothes), or time (like offering to meet people for a coffee date or picnic). Alternatively, you can ask for the same types of things. I love this model because you’re giving things directly to a person who has 1) asked for them or 2) expressed a need, rather than potentially overwhelming a charity with unwanted stuff. 


Getting to know your local Buy Nothing group is a great strategy to manage your stuff throughout the year. I’m constantly giving things away using this group and asking for things you need. I always feel like I should give more than I take from groups like this, but they’re an amazing resource to ask for things you need too! Last summer, I picked up kefir starter and used roller skates for both my kids from my Buy Nothing group… for free!  


Comment with your questions and additional recommendations below!


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