Marie Kondo’s Surprising Advice for Unwanted Gifts


According to the Inaugural 2020 Salvos Stores Christmas report, two-thirds of us are receiving unwanted Christmas presents every year, and ultimately, the wastage, as a result, contributes to a staggering $669 million annually.

Looking at these stats, it’s clear we need to shift our habits around present-buying and work to combat wasteful gift-giving, to prevent perfectly good items from ending up in landfill. But while we work towards making this positive change, we can’t help but wonder what we are to do with those less-than-thrilling gifts we receive for our birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day…

Marie Kondo, creator of the KonMari Method and author of the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising, has come to the rescue with an idea.

In a somewhat surprising move, Kondo suggests that we should not immediately discard and donate gifts that don’t ‘spark joy’, but rather use them straight away.

“They are all gifts that someone used precious time to pick out and purchase for you,” Kondo says in a blog post.

“They are expressions of love and kindness, but they don’t suit your taste. You don’t want to donate them just yet, but you also shouldn’t shove these gifts into a closet. Surely the people who gave them to you don’t want you to stow away the gifts without using them, only to make you feel guilty every time you see them!”

Upon receiving a gift, even one that doesn’t exactly excite you instantly, Kondo says we must do three things: Open it immediately, remove the packaging, and start using it straight away.

“Try out every gift at least one time – even those that don’t immediately spark joy. The ability to feel what truly excites you is only gained through experience. Be adventurous and welcome things that are different. The more experience you gain, the more you’ll refine and heighten your sensitivity to joy.”

Take comfort in knowing that if you really don’t like the gift, even after your attempts to appreciate it fully, you can donate it. “You don’t have to keep using the gift forever,” Kondo says.

“If you try using the item and decide that it still doesn’t suit you, thank it for the joy it brought when you first received it – and bid it farewell. The true purpose of a present is to be received, because gifts are a means of conveying someone’s feelings for you.

“When viewed from this perspective, there is no need to feel guilty about parting with a gift that ultimately doesn’t spark joy.”

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