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  • Writer's pictureJenny Wilson

Gifts Can Be Guilt Free

“Once a gift is received, its job is done.”

Gifts I bought for myself

I say this so often in our sessions. Once a person gives us a gift, and we open it and say thank you, the point of the gift is complete. We know they thought of us, they know we know they thought of us, etc. After that, we can do anything we want with that item.

But you say to yourself, “This doesn’t suit me at all and I will never use it, but they’ll be mad at me if they don’t see it on the counter.” Or “my great-grandmother’s-second-cousin-in-law gave that to us on our wedding day.” Or “it once belonged to Aunt Josephine.” I ask you, when you give people gifts, would you want them to keep something, making their home that little bit more uncomfortable, just because they’re afraid of how you’ll feel about it?

A gift I use every day and will patch forever

We must start with the assumption that the person giving us the gift likes us and wants what’s best for us. If that is true, then we are free from the guilt of sending the gift on. We don’t need to keep an item forever even though we don’t use it. If it doesn’t suit our tastes or needs, it is perfectly fine to donate it. If we accidentally break it or stain it beyond repair, it is ok to throw it away. A person who likes/loves us does not want us drowning in a home filled with stuff we don’t use.

If you’re honest with yourself and realize YOU are a person who wants/needs to see your gifts on display and in use in the recipient’s homes, then I recommend asking for a specific wish list from them. Rummaging through the Target dollar spot for something “fun” isn’t going to get you to the place where you go into their home and see the thing you bought for them. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a colorful notepad or pair of Halloween socks, but those things aren’t necessarily going to be universally loved and used. Most people can put together an Amazon wish list for you, or they can tell you they are saving up for a new playground set or trip to the beach. If your goal as a generous person is to show your love and bring joy to the recipient AND continue to see the display/use of the gift, then the present has to be specifically about them. You think you know what they need and want but the best practice is to ASK. You might be surprised.

A gift I've had for 30+ years that I still love

Gifts are supposed to be happy things. If they are not good for you for whatever reason, and you’re ready for it, it’s time to send them on.

Remember, you are the boss of your things.

When you are ready and able to invest in your future calm, you can hire me or any of the talented pro organizers listed with the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) at

I'm fully vaccinated and now open for in person organizing sessions, sanity saving cleaning services, as well as packing and unpacking services. Gift certificates available.

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