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Dealing with the Christmas Carnage

January 5, 2017
Dealing with the Christmas Carnage | Tiny Ambitions

Imagine this, you’re a minimalist and you’ve told your family as such.

You told them you don’t need gifts this year, maybe you told them to donate to a charity instead. You’ve done everything you can to cover your bases. But still, around the tree on Christmas morning or at your annual gift exchange, your loved ones present you with a gift, or two, or seven.

You don’t want to be rude or hurt anyone’s feelings, so you bring all of your gifts home. And now you’re stuck with what to do with them.

Not to worry! I’ve got some suggestions on how you can keep your minimalist sanity – post-Christmas.

Are the items useful?

Maybe you got something useful for Christmas this year. I, for instance, asked for and received a butter dish! It is a useful item that adds value to my kitchen.

Do you already own something like it?

You can only own so many butter dishes before you should start questioning your sanity.

Likewise, if the gifts you received are duplicates of items you already own, you shouldn’t feel obligated to keep them.

Will you actually use it?

I don’t already own a cheese fondue machine, and technically, it is a useful item. But I doubt I would ever use one if I had one. The same goes for an ugly Christmas sweater.

Be honest and realistic about what gifts you could actually see yourself incorporating into your daily life.

Do you like it?

If you don’t like a gift, it shouldn’t take up valuable space in your closet, bathroom, kitchen, etc.

What should you do with items that:

  • Are not useful?
  • You already own?
  • You won’t use?
  • Or you don’t like?

Below are some examples of what you could do with items you received as gifts that won’t fit into your life! This is not an exhaustive list and I’d love to hear your ideas too!


  • Donate to your local library.
  • Give to your friends to enjoy and start a lending library!


  • Donate to charity, a women’s or youth shelter, etc.
  • Sell at a consignment store.
  • Give to friends who could use them!
  • Return if possible.


  • Gift to local schools for education purposes (item dependent).
  • Sell/Swap/Trade on Kijiji, Craigslist or Ebay.
  • Return if possible.

Gift Cards

  • Sell using a service like CardSwap.
  • Donate to a local charity that accepts gift cards, such as Covenant House.
  • Regift them to a family or friends in need.


  • Host a dinner party & use the food gifts to feed your guests!
  • Donate unopened food to your local food bank.

Beauty Products

  • Donate to a women’s or youth shelter.
  • Return, if possible.

If you are worried about next Christmas already, have another (or several more) convserations with your family about the importance of minimalism in your life.

If that seems too confrontational for you, just live by example! If your loved ones see how happy you are living minimally, it might rub off on them!

Christmas and the holidays can be overwhelming if you’re an established or aspiring minimalist. But with the right tools, you can sweep through the season with your minimalist street cred mostly unscathed.

Do you have any other ideas for what to do with gifts that don’t add value to your life? Let me know in the comments!

Image Credit: Unsplash

  • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment January 5, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    I am really enjoying your blog so far, Brittany! I am so excited to hear more about the tiny house that you have designed! I would love to live in a tiny house, too. As for this post, that’s definitely an issue which has come up for me on many gift-giving occasions. Christmas 2016 went very well I am pleased to report, and I only ended up with one useless gift – a mug (WHY?!? That’s the one thing everyone has enough of!) – which I’ll be donating to charity. For the most part my family has been very respectful of my wishes, which I am so pleased about, but I had a major gift issue when my partner and I were engaged last year (which was not really a huge deal for us, but it was for everyone else!). My colleagues started giving me plates, serving dishes and teacups left, right and centre!! Because when I get married I’ll obviously become a society hostess, right? πŸ˜‰ In all seriousness, though, I appreciated the thought and care that had gone into the gifts, so that was what mattered most. I am sure someone out there is now enjoy their new plates, serving dishes and teacups!!

    • tinyambitions January 5, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks for reading Lisa! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! I am super excited to share my tiny house dreams with the blog- it makes it seem more real somehow. That’s awesome that your family is on board with your minimalism- gift giving occasions would be super stressful otherwise! It’s super interesting that people got all trigger happy with gifts because you got engaged. All married women are socialites who lunch right?? Imagine if you were having a baby! I think that understanding the thought behind the gift is a great way to deal with it- and then you don’t have to feel bad about donating it.

      • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment January 5, 2017 at 5:48 pm

        Haha, oh yes they must be! I have my heels, curlers and cocktail apron at the ready πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to following you here on Tiny Ambitions, Brittany πŸ™‚ Here’s to less!

      • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment January 5, 2017 at 6:02 pm

        I think they must! I have my heels, curlers and cocktail apron at the ready πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to reading more here on Tiny Ambitions, Brittany πŸ™‚ Here’s to less!

  • Lindsay Gulanes January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Great suggestions!

    • tinyambitions January 5, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks Lindsay! I think we sometimes get stuck in a trap of thinking we need to keep things we receive as gifts – but I don’t think that’s the case. You might as well give the item a more useful life by sharing it with someone who needs it!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.