How Much Money is Wasted on Unwanted Presents?

Once all of the wrapping paper has settled and the huge Christmas dinner finally eaten, have you ever taken inventory of your gift pile and been, well,disappointed? You’re not alone.

Staples conducted a survey that found 56% of people polled receive at least one gift they don’t like every holiday season (and it’s no wonder with the largeselection of awful gifts out there!). That adds up to a huge amount of wasted money, about$3.8 billion a year!

So what can you do about this waste as a giverand areceiver?

Ways to Cut down on Waste as a Giver

  • Buy Gifts People Want

Yes, this is definitely easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. If you’re agonizing over what to get someone on your list, don’t throw your hands up in frustration and buy the first thing that comes to mind. There are a slew ofspecialized gift guides online that can give you inspiration and ideas. You can also use theinteractive gift guide that Staples created in conjunction with it’s survey, which generates personalized ideas based on the information you provide about the person you’re buying for (and if you Tweet your results, you can win your entire gift list–double win!).

  • Limit Your Budget and Consider DIY

Another way to reduce gift waste is to limit your budget or consider DIY orhomemade gifts. Even if you aren’t a crafty person there are plenty of detailedDIY guides that can help you create budget friendly, and personalized gifts. If you’re seriously not feeling creative, try browsing a site likeEtsy, which is full of eco-friendly, hand-crafted gifts. You can also give of your time or talent (think along the lines of babysitting or painting a room).

Ways to Cut Down on Waste as a Receiver

  • Re-Gift or Recycle

Yes, re-gifting gets a bad rap, but, according to the Staples survey, 38% of people whoreceivedgifts they didn’t like ended up re-gifting them–and ultimately, re-gifting is just a form of festive recycling, right? You can also recycle a surprisingly large number of gifts, or you canre-purposethem in creative ways. Also, remember to recycle any wrapping paper youreceive, and keep tags, bows, and ribbons that you can’t recycle for later use.

  • Return

If youreceivea gift you don’t like, be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re going to use it. If the answer is no, try exchanging the gift for another that youwill use.

  • Donate

If you can’t re-gift, recycle, or return, then consider donating any unwanted gifts. You can drop gifts off at a nearby thrift store or a holiday charity.

Yes, the holidays are a time for giving, but don’t let giving turn into wasted money, instead get creative with how you giveand receivegifts. According to the Staples survey, most shoppers feel more confident gift buying when they know what people on their list want, so you can always help out your loved ones by letting them know what you’re interested in (and don’t be afraid to ask what someone wants for the holidays!).

Author’s Note: As mentioned in the article, Staples is hosting a contest as part of its survey and interactive gift giving guide. Check it out here and enter before Sat. Dec. 22nd by 11:59 PM EST for a chance to win!


Rustam Jekson
Rustam Jekson4 years ago

Very positive

Ostromir Bessalov

Thanks for posting.

Angie V.
Angie V4 years ago


Jeannie Fuchs
Jeannie Fuchs5 years ago

Great ideas Thank you for sharing

John S.
Past Member 5 years ago

1 present, that's it. Pick wisely.

Angie cr
Angie cr5 years ago

We need love and compassion not all that waste! thanks for posting!!!

Claudia Phillips
Claudia Phillips5 years ago

Years ago my family decided that only children would receive gifts. What a relief! It is disgusting to see all the junk in the stores that people buy each other. Forget the gifts and enjoy fellowship.

Richard T.
Richard T5 years ago


Vicky P.
Vicky P5 years ago


jenny H.
jenny H5 years ago

I was talking with a friend about this today. I always ask my children (aged 11 and 14) what they want - which my friend finds very odd! I have always felt that I would rather spend my (somewhat limited) resources on something they actually want and will use, than more junk to take up space. For other family members I usually buy or make a small token gift and then buy a charity gift - and I am more than happy for others to do the same for me. I don't need or want more 'stuff' and would rather any money spent went towards someone who will really benefit. I tend to donate unwanted gifts.