Ways to Repurpose Unwanted Christmas Gifts without Regifting

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With Christmas behind us and the new year approaching, this transitional period is best described as the “Shadow of Christmas.” It’s a time when the gifts have been exchanged or, in some cases, forced upon us and we must now contemplate and search for an answer to one of life’s most challenging questions: “What am I going to do with this thing?”

For many of us, the temptation to toss out, return, or regift a Christmas present is very strong and highly logical. A lot of people are just bad at giving gifts. There are no names needed to be given, but I’m sure those subpar amateur Santas know exactly who they are. It’s nothing to be shameful about, since it really is the thought and effort that counts no matter how little of it was given. The real shame, however, is the act of regifting.

The Regifting Line Ends Here

Regifting, or regiving, is the intentional act of giving a person a used gift, which had originally been given to you, under the pretense of giving a brand new gift. This is typically done because the person regifting a Christmas present hates it or has no need for it, which is understandable, but a gift is a gift. It’s one thing to return or exchange a gift at the store with a gift receipt, but it’s an entirely different case when you have to lie to two people just to unload something that was given as a gift.

teddy bear with heart

There are lots of articles online about the proper rules for regifting and common etiquette when giving away unwanted Christmas gifts, but I’m here to take a stand and say no more. Society has gone too soft on gift giving with mass produced gift sets, toys, and greeting cards. Now, people are becoming far too lenient on regifting after Christmas. We’re suppose to be a civil society, not barbarians! No offense to barbarians, of course. I’m sure they knew how to give and receive gifts or die trying.

So, what can be done with unwanted gifts instead of regifting them away to some other unsuspecting coworker, friend, or family member? It all depends on the type of gift and your imagination.


It’s a bold gesture if someone is buying you an electrical appliance for Christmas. It really shows they either really care about you or got a great Black Friday deal, Nevertheless, it’s difficult to imagine anybody wanting to regift a brand new home appliance.

Let’s say, however, you like to drink wine from time-to-time, but your friend doesn’t understand this. Your friend thinks you really love wine because you have a couple of bottles around your home, you’ve gone wine tasting, and made some social media posts in the past year that are wine related. It’s clear to see why this friend would think you love the vino and, therefore, need a wine cooler. Not just any wine cooler, of course. Your friend gets you the NewAir AWR-1160DB Dual Zone Premier Gold Series Wine Cooler.

danny devito, it's always sunny, the penguin

This wine cooler is over four and a half feet tall and holds up to 116 large wine bottles, a 40 degree to 66 degree Fahrenheit temperature setting in two separate cooling zones. The AWR-1160DB Dual Zone Premier Gold Series Wine Cooler sounds amazing, but you barely drink one bottle a month. What are you going to do with a 116 wine cooler that’s about a half foot shorter than Danny DeVito?

You could start drinking more wine or collect more vintage bottles; a wine cooler would definitely help you with that. Another option would be to store objects in your wine cooler that aren’t wine. With the removable shelves and 40 to 66 degree Fahrenheit temperature range, you could store a variety of drinks in the NewAir AWR-1160DB. You can store a ridiculous amount of water bottles that are nicely chilled, but not freezing cold to drink; you can store two liter bottles of your favorite sodas with style; or you could probably use it as a make-shift refrigerator to temporarily hold extra food for parties and social gatherings.

Depending on certain food items, you wouldn’t want to keep food items in for too long because 40 degrees F is what industry professionals, as well as Kenny Loggins, call “hugging the danger zone.” The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is between 35 degrees to 38 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 degrees and 32 degrees Fahrenheit being on the far end of acceptable. If you’re just keeping food in a repurposed wine cooler for less than a day, though, then it should be fine. And, if you do choose to take up vintage wine collecting, you’ll still have this great gift to use and store all of your bottles.

Books or Movies

Nothing says disappointment like opening up Christmas wrapping paper and finding a book. Sure, books are great and all, but the gift giver is really rolling the dice when they’re giving a book as a present. The reasons for regifting such a gift is understandable because the gift recipient might already have the book; they might not even like author or the genre; or they might not even have time to read and the gifted book becomes another another addition to the “I’ll Start That Soon” pile, which never gets started. So, what are you going to do with a book you likely won’t ever read or finish?

secret compartment in book, hollow book, hiding spot

If it’s a thick hardcover book, you could hollow out the pages in the middle of the book to create a secret hiding place for your money, passport, or any important loose items. It’s always good to have a secret hiding place for stuff in your house, especially if you’re living with other people or in a rough part of town.

You could do the same for a paperback copy, but it doesn’t work as well; you need the weight and support of a hardcover because the binding is better and you don’t run the risk of the cover not closing or opening on its own when left out. Instead, use it as a coaster or gather up that unwanted paperback with all of the other books you’re not going to read and make build a simple shelf. Place a few books spaced out on each end, plop a plank of wood on top, use a level to make sure your new book shelf is level, and now you have a brand new shelf made of books to hold the books you’ve actually read. In the world of fiction, it’s sort of meta.

Movies have the same basic reasons for regifting. Back then with VHS, you could just keep the tapes and record over them instead of buying expensive blank tapes; you can’t do this with DVD and Blu Ray home video releases, but you do have some options available that don’t involve returning or regiving.

CDs, DVDs, and Blu Rays all make good pest deterrents for your backyard. If your fruit trees are being raided by birds and rodents, hanging up a lightweight, shiny object will help keep them away. If you don’t have fruit trees, but you do own some form of firearm, use the movies for target practice. Clip the discs to a table or toss them into the air for practice skeet shooting.

Another option would be to make coasters out of your unwanted DVD movies. The instructions for making a DVD drink coaster are pretty simple:

  1. Buy cork board.
  2. Trace the edge of the DVD onto the cork board.
  3. Cut out the cork circle and glue it to the backside of the DVD.
  4. Place a heavy book on top and let it set for a few hours to make sure the cork and DVD have fully bonded.
  5. Wipe down the DVD and edges and you’ve got yourself a new coaster.


NewAir, wine cooler, AWR-1160DB
NewAir AWR-1160DB Dual Zone Premier Gold Series Wine Cooler

Repurposing unwanted clothing gifts can be fun and easy if you have some sewing skills and a creative eye. Fabric can be pretty expensive and it’s not a bad idea to take all of the ugly or over-sized clothes you don’t want or need and sew them all into some sort of Frankenstein-ish quilt, a sweater, jacket, or dress. One ugly shirt is just ugly, but combing several ugly shirts into one blanket or dress suddenly becomes kitsch, which is differently better than ugly.

If you can’t sew or you don’t know anybody who can help you, just cut everything up and use the fabric as a rag. Screen printed tees might not work as well as rags, but soft sweaters and socks will do just fine. You can even use these new rags to clean the aforementioned NewAir AWR-1160 DB Dual Zone Premier Gold Series Wine Cooler; that triple-pane glass looks great and is ideal for regulating the interior temperature and keeping UV light out, but it doesn’t clean itself (…yet).

Gift Cards

If you’ve got a gift card, try using them. It’s still free money. If it’s a restaurant you’ve never been to, think of it as an adventure on your friend. Your only other alternatives are to turn your gift card into a guitar pick (but that would destroy the card) or you can keep it in your wallet in case you need something to pick a door lock. Just slip it into the crack and jiggle the card in until it slides through the latch.


I’m not sure why scented candles are a popular gift, but apparently giving away candles is a thing. Luckily, I have yet to be given a candle as a present, but if you were given a candle this past Christmas, or in general, there’s no need to return of regift it. Turn it into a supplement homemade heater!

two glowing candles

All you need are two different size terra cotta clay pots, a heat resistant surface, and something to elevate your pots over the candle. The instructions are pretty simple, as well:

  1. Place your candle on top of the heat resistant surface.
  2. Light the candle and put 2 bricks next to the candle, 1 on each side. This will serve as the elevated stand for your pots.
    1. If you have a baking pan, this can act as your heat resistant surface and the top rim will serve as the elevated stand for your pots.
  3. Cover the bottom hole of the smaller terra cotta pot and place it over the candle, resting on the elevated stand.
  4. Place the larger terra cotta pot (with the bottom hole open) over the smaller pot, also resting on the elevated stand.
  5. If using a scented candle, it’ll be best to crack a window. More candles will provide more radiant heat.
NewAir, AH-600, baseboard heater, 1500 watt heater
NewAir AH-600 1500W Low Profile Baseboard Heater

While a candle powered heater isn’t powerful or reliable enough to replace your space heater, like the NewAir AH-600 1500W Low Profile Baseboard Heater or the AH-470 Flan Panel Micathermic Heater, it will supplement your space heater and help reduce your energy usage. It’s also a great do-it-yourself project and share with your friends on social media.

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