A third of people tossed unwanted holiday presents in the garbage

Paul HiebertData Journalist
January 12, 2017, 5:45 PM GMT+0

While the majority of Americans consider re-gifting acceptable, a fair amount seem fine with throwing away gifts they don't like

Two problems arise upon receiving a gift you don't want. The first is how to mask your disappointment without hurting the feelings of the person who gave it to you. The second is what to do with the thing now that it's in your possession.

A new YouGov survey shows how Americans responded to the second problem this past holiday season. Overall, 66% of US adults indicated that they did not receive a gift they didn't like or that didn't fit — meaning, only one in three people faced the dilemma of the unwanted gift over the holidays.

To start, 59% of US adults say re-gifting is acceptable, compared to just 32% who say it's not. While women are slightly more likely than men to deem the behavior acceptable (62% to 56%), the nation as a whole agrees that it's okay to give a gift you received to someone else.

As for individuals who received an unwanted gift over the holidays, data suggests that 42% did exactly that: they re-gifted the gift by giving it to someone else. Meanwhile, 40% indicated that they returned the gift for store credit. The same percentage said they stored the undesired gift in a safe space, such as a closet or cupboard. Perhaps the most startling finding is that 30% of people who received a gift they didn't like this past holiday season simply tossed it in the garbage.

The numbers change slightly for individuals who say they received a gift that didn't fit, such as a sweater or pair of boots. 47% of these people exchanged the gift for another item of similar value — a rate nearly 10 percentage points higher than those who received a gift they didn't like. Only 19% of consumers who received a gift that didn't fit threw it in the garbage.