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The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Greg Johnson. Greg brings the awesome sauce to personal finance at his blog Club Thrifty, where he encourages people to “Stop spending. Start living.” He is a proud husband, father, and debt crusader who is in the process of becoming debt free.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
If you are like me (or my children), you probably just got a bunch of new gifts for Christmas. If you are also like my family, you try to keep the clutter in your house under control. So, what do you do with all of these new items that you just got for Christmas? Where do you put all of this new stuff? Here are a few tips to help you deal with Christmas gift overload.
1) Out With the Old…
One of the best ways to deal with the onslaught of Christmas gifts that many of us receive is to prepare for it ahead of time. If you know that Christmas is coming, or a birthday for that matter, get rid of some of your used items before you bring in the new crop of stuff.
“That’s great,” you’re saying.” But, it is already too late for me to do that this year. Not only do I still have their old toys, but my kid just got 27 new puzzles. Where can I get rid of these things?” I’m glad you asked!
2) Return, Return, Return
Yes, I said it. I am guilty. We return some of our children’s gifts. Don’t worry, though. I’m not that cold-hearted. Although we do bring some of our children’s gifts back to the store, we do not pocket the money ourselves. First of all, we do let them keep many of the gifts that they were given. However, we just can’t deal with a 30 new toys every time a birthday or Christmas rolls around. So, we return them to the store.
Often times, you can get cash for these items provided that you have a receipt. If not, you can almost always get store credit. Either way, you can use the money in a way that you see fit. The fact is that they don’ t need that many toys to begin with. What they do need is a college education.
So, once we have decided what items they are allowed to keep, we look at what things we can take back to the store. If we can get a cash refund, we put that money directly into their college 529 accounts. If we are only allowed to get store credit, then we use that credit to buy things we need – like groceries – and reimburse our kids through their college fund.
If you are unable to find the correct store for the return, you can also try to sell the items on Craigslist. In that instance, we also reimburse our children and usually put the money into their college funds.
3) Donate Items to a Charity
So, you can’t find the store and are unable to sell your items on Craigslist. Or, maybe you just have so many that you think other people would appreciate getting them instead. Not to worry. There are lots of charities out there that are looking for either lightly used or new items. You can donate some of your used items to them.
There are national charities like Toys for Tots and local groups as well. Perhaps a local group is collecting donations for victims of a hurricane or other natural disaster. This is the route that we recently chose. When we were asked if we had any items that we could donate to victims of a tornado near our home town, we were thrilled to be able to help. Before Christmas, we cleared out a bunch of our lightly used items in anticipation of what was to come. Now that we have had an early Christmas with one side of our family, we are going to provide them with some additional items that we do not have room for in our house. As a bonus, you can also use this as a teaching moment for your young children about the importance of giving and helping those in need.
4) Start a Regifting Closet
So, you’ve returned some of the gifts and donated others, but you still have too much stuff. One of the easiest ways to get rid of some these new items is to regift them. The key to the regift is to not open all of the packaging with each gift. Then, you simply store them until the next time you need a gift in a hurry. Did you forget about your nieces birthday? No problem. Simply head on up to the regift closet and find something before you head to the party!
We have a special little tote that we use to put unopened items in so that we can regift those items at a later date. Find a little nook in your home to store these items. Keep them out of sight so that you don’t feel anxious about all of the stuff that you now have.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways you can clean out your Christmas clutter. Many of these options can be used to help others, while at the same time helping you to stay sane after the holidays. And, really, what feels better than helping other people at Christmas time?
How about you all? What are your tips for dealing with Christmas gift overload?
Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below!
***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/3122866103/sizes/o/in/photostream/