Purge Useless Gifts!


By Lisa Autz

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest.

Every holiday season is a designated time that we’re given social permission to shamelessly indulge in excessive consumerism as a means to show “love” for family and friends.

The pressure to give gift after gift results in many of us scrambling to wrap up just about anything that seems decent. Now, as New Year’s has just passed, many of us find ourselves surrounded by piles of undesired junk. Such useless gifts are often destined to sit in the closet and build up dust or get thrown into the trash to rot in a landfill.

Luckily, we at BTR are here to walk you through the post-holiday cleansing and bring your life back in order–as well as recommend some unique ways to put to good use senseless gifts from “thoughtful” relatives.

So maybe next year you can actually mean it when you tell Aunt Becky, “Thank God you got me that egg slicer last year. I made a lot of use out of it.”

1. Guiltless Purging

First off, though kinsfolk may have the best intentions in mind, no mercy shall be shown for items that have no real place in your life. Organize which gifts will add value to your life, not clutter. If you decide not to chuck something, think objectively about its potential use.

Sure, the value of certain gifts will begin to shine with some time. However the ones that continue to bring doubt should quickly be recognized as ousting material and be rid of any fantasized sentiment. Throw them out (in the right ways–see below), and don’t let guilt stop you.

2. Making Use Out of the Useless

Many people use the old recycling technique of re-gifting. However, what if you took those rejected objects and found a surprising practical use out of them?

For instance, a tattered shoe, a cooking whisk, or even an old vase can be made into a practical lamp. Many websites offer DIY help to rigging just about any object into a lamp, bookshelf, or coat stand for your room. All you need are some handy-man tools from your local hardware store. If you have no desire to put in that manual effort, surf through some online resources set up to reuse your donated items as a means to keep, perfectly good materials out of the trash.

3. Make Trash into Money

Craigslist is a beautiful place. Without signing up for an account, or having any credentials for that matter, you can sell just about anything on there.

Posting on this simplistic online platform should be your first attempt to make a quick buck on a random gift. If no one’s finding that cheesy knit sweater particularly appealing, then make your way to eBay so people can bid for the best fit price. For tech stuff, sites like BuyMyTronics and Gazelle will also buy your gadget from you directly. The staff there offers sellers immediate quotes based on the model and condition of the presented item.

4. Swap It

If you would rather participate in old-school barter with your senseless presents–especially with gift cards to stores you have no use in–Swapagift.com may serve as your haven. The company offers up to 70 percent in cash for gift cards from retailers like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart.

For the mounds of non-wearable clothing that plague most women’s wardrobes, a site like SwapStyle can be used to exchange a usable outfit for an outdated one. The clothing trade site also will take your shoes, accessories, cosmetics, and even some gadgets, all without a membership fee.

5. Donate to a Good Cause

Giving away to charity usually comes to mind during the holidays. But how do you know which one is making the best use out of your stuff?

Sacking unwanted holiday gifts through the Goodwill or Salvation Army can seem like you’re emptying items into a mysterious black hole. However, donating to charities that cater to specific needs might be more gratifying. Dress for Success and Career Gear, for example, allow people to donate business attire to women and men who could not otherwise afford it. Sites like these serve as the perfect place for ridding the myriad of ties stacked up from every Christmas (ever). There are also charity navigation sites that help you select a nonprofit you care most deeply about.

We can always use a little time to go through a purifying process when it comes to scaling our belongings. The holidays, and New Year’s in particular, could work as the ideal occasion to set up a system for yourself to prioritize and purge belongings every month or so.

Starting such a ritual can be a helpful way to begin the next year. That way, we can start fresh by enjoying the countless benefits tied to living with less.