How Do You Deal with Unwanted Decor Gifts?

How Do You Deal with Unwanted Decor Gifts?

Elizabeth Licata
Apr 21, 2014
(Image credit: Valerie Leonard via Apartment Therapy)

Having an excess of generous presents from loving and attentive relatives is the epitome of the first-world problem, but sometimes it happens and you find yourself on the receiving end of some silly pig figurines or a giant, amateur portrait of yourself with sad eyes on velvet. But you love the giver, so what can you do?

In most cases involving human relationships, I recommend absolute honesty. But there are some relatives who would take a well-meant, "I really appreciate it, but it just doesn't go with my house" like a bullet to the gut. In that case, you might have to live with your present for a while. (Note: The dog paintings pictured above do not count; I think those are fantastic.)

If you cannot slip an item into a garage sale, the available options will depend a lot on what specifically the item is and how many of it you have received. Lovingly knit grandma sweaters are easy to deal with; you can just put them in a drawer and wear one when grandma visits. You can't wear more than one at a time, so you'll probably be fine keeping just one. Quilts are similarly storable, though if you are related to a quilter you know that receiving a quilt is like spotting a mouse: nobody gets just one. You could well receive dozens of quilts, and every one of them took hours of painstaking work and must be treasured and cared for the rest of your life or you're basically throwing a week of your mother's life away. It might be best to keep one at a time in circulation and rotate it with the ones bagged up under the bed with the sweaters. (If you start to run out of under-bed space, putting the bed on risers can help create more.)

But then there is furniture. It sounds unlikely, but if you have a relative with a woodworking hobby, you could wind up with unsolicited bookshelves, spice racks, side tables, and more. This can be very difficult if you live in a small space and your relatives do not understand apartment living. At that point, you're probably going to have to have a gentle conversation about how you're running out of room and please not to surprise you with any more lovely furniture.

For now, I'm lucky to have a storage space in my building, which allows me to treat larger items just like Christmas sweaters.

What is the worst decor gift you have ever received, and how did you deal with it?

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