You Shouldn’t Have: How to Prevent Giving Wasteful Gifts This Christmas


Christmas is a time for giving, and you bet we love to hand out meaningful gifts to our loved ones as a way to show our love and appreciation for their contribution to our lives. But as much as we love to give and receive gifts, the sad reality is so many of them are left discarded, never to be used, or destined to be regifted.

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.

Children’s presents contribute hugely to this. In fact, 64% of parents in Australia admit they buy their kids too many Christmas presents, and 64% of Aussie parents admit there are a lot of presents their kids receive that they never use, or don’t like.

Looking at these stats, it’s clear we need to shift our habits around present buying and work to combat the wasteful Christmas. It’s common for unwanted gifts to end up in landfill, and it’s a sad reality that so many do, especially when this is an issue so easily avoided.

“I feel like we’ve all become so caught up in the buying of presents and we have lost touch on the true meaning of Christmas,” Faye de Lanty, Salvos Store eco-stylist, tells The Latch.

“I think if there’s one blessing which has emerged from the complexities of 2020 it’s that, as a collective, we are realising what’s truly important at this time of year and beyond: Giving back, giving hope and giving our love in a more meaningful way.”

As to how we combat the wasteful Christmas and form better habits going into the holiday season this year? Well, de Lanty has some thoughts. As gift recipients, we can do better to let our loved ones know of things we may need or would like.

“To prevent wastage, an open dialogue about what you need is a really good place to start. It could be as simple as having a little list of the things you would like and sharing this with those close to you. Then they can pick from the list, giving you a small element of surprise,” says de Lanty.

And before you go there, allow us to quash your concerns about taking the ‘fun’ out of Christmas. As de Lanty puts it: “No, I don’t think it takes the fun out of it all, in fact, I think it brings more joy.

“We feel genuine happiness when we receive what was in our hearts. And we all know that feeling of having to fake excitement when you receive a gift that is totally wrong for you.”

As gift-givers, we can also do better to ask our friends and family member what they’d really like to receive this year. That way, we can go out shopping with a list of guaranteed winners to put under the tree. Even better still, if you shop for those gifts second-hand, in an effort to close the loop and give back to those in need.

“Shopping at second-hand stores like Salvos Stores is an incredible way to find gifts with meaning. It is an opportunity to really tailor the gift-giving experience to suit your loved one’s personality, plus, you are doing right by the planet and your money is going to helping those in need,” says de Lanty.

“Money spent at Salvos Stores goes onto to support programs that help those who are homeless, suffering domestic violence, or have drug and alcohol dependencies.”

She continues: “When you op shop, you are also keeping items in the loop and out of landfill which is a powerful action to take for people and the planet.”

Now a message to those who may be sitting on unwanted gifts. If gifts from Christmas past are gathering dust under your bed, then please consider donating these, rather than discarding them.

“Donating good quality gifts is a good place to start. When thinking about what to donate, it is always good to think if this is an item that you would pass onto a friend. The Salvos can on-sell these items and 100% of the profits go towards supporting the many community programs run by The Salvation Army.”

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