In yesterday’s post about decluttering, I touched briefly on the guilt that can come with gifts, especially when you’re trying to reduce the amount of things you own. I’m wrestling with this at the moment, because I had my birthday earlier this week, and while I received some really great gifts, I also received a few that for whatever reason weren’t spot on.

For example, I got a lot of books, which normally I would love, but right now I don’t have a lot of time to read because I’m busy trying to keep a tiny human alive (I’m going through a lot of audiobooks at the moment, though) and I already have a big pile of unread books I’m hoping to get to. So today I went to exchange a few of the books I received, and I found a really great brush lettering work book (I love practicing lettering as a way to unwind, I get all zen and relaxed from it) and then I spent the rest of the store credit on some nice candles.

Now, this was a really good trade for me – it gets really dark here during the winter and candles is one of my favorite ways to make the short days feel cozy instead of dreary. These were really nice candles in beautiful colors that I wouldn’t normally buy for myself, and I know I’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of them, yet I still felt guilty exchanging the books for them. It’s odd, but although the candles are “better” for my life right now, I realized I had this unconscious feeling that the gift-givers would be insulted that I exchanged something “permanent” for something consumable and temporary.

Isn’t it crazy how many ideas we carry around about gifts and the meaning they carry? Anyway, in the end I figured the only reasonable thing to do was exchange the books for the beautiful candles, after all if I had given someone a gift that didn’t work for them, I would certainly hope they would exchange it for something that made them happier!

Do you struggle with guilt over exchanging gifts that don’t work for you? Would you ever let the gift-giver know if you exchanged their gift? And would you want to know if you were the gift-giver?