After the holidays, we’re all faced with a huge problem. What to do with the unwanted gift?
Here are some solutions:

1) The hand-knit sweater. The sleeves are unequal length, the color a sort of ‘vomitus green’, and the buttons came from the 70’s, and haven’t aged well at all. It’s 100% pure wool. It feels like 100% steel wool. You grit your teeth and smile. “Thank you SO much,” you say.
What keeps your smile in place is the knowledge that wool is the best material for buffing wood wax. Woolen sweaters can buff floor wax to a mirror-bright shine.

2) The bracelet. It’s plastic. How modern! With large, blue squares held together with black plastic string. The bracelet fits the cat. It hides the flea collar, and makes the mangy cat look almost like a prize feline.
Ugly jewelry can almost always be used for something, including dress-up costume jewelry for your little princess.

3) The hideous writing paper.
That’s a no brainer. Everyone knows paper is fine for starting chimney fires. For those with no chimneys, paper can be used to start the barb-b-cue. If you have kids, let them use it to write their thank you notes. Perfect.

4) The perfume that knocks you out. This is a hard one. Pour it down the drain, and you get whiffs of it for days. Dump it in the toilet, and you feel guilty. There is an answer:
Horrible perfume can be used to freshen the kitchen garbage. Soak a little into a paper towel, and place beneath the plastic bin liner.

5) The book you’ll never read.
Put it in your bookcase. It can always be used in a pinch to swat a spider when you don’t want to ruin any of your keepers. Otherwise, I like to take books with me when I take the train/plane/bus and leave them on seats with a note: “Free book to good home.” 

6) Chocolates.
After a few days, the sight of the box of chocolates, little nibbles taken out of most of them, is too much to bear. My advice is to never unwrap chocolate boxes. Keep them until your next bridge party and give them to the host/hostess. The round, coconut balls make interesting golf balls after a few years in the back of the closet.

7) The dreadful jacket.
Your mother thinks you’re cold and gives you a huge gold-tone down jacket. It’s puffy. It’s flashy. It’s…just not you.
If you’re not allergic to feathers, I suggest taking a pillowcase and stuffing it with the jacket. You can also try dying it a different color. Experiment. Tie-dying a down jacket is an excellent rainy day activity. Have fun.

8) The gadget. You have no idea what it is. You read the directions twice, and it still makes no sense. It might be a clock – or a barometer. Check to see if there are batteries you can recuperate. If it’s heavy enough, use it as a paperweight until you can’t stand the sight of it. Whatever you do, don’t put it in a drawer and forget about it.

9) Health-food. Have you ever gotten a bag/box/crate of health food as a gift? A bag of sawdust, you thought at first. Turns out to be the ‘Power Drink’ of the stars. Tastes like sawdust. Your flower borders will appreciate it. Also can be used to supplement plant food. Do not feed to the dog.

10) The arts and crafts kit. Oh joy. Oh delight. An arts and crafts kit to make a ____ (fill in the blank). You have to sew (can’t sew) or paint (can’t paint) or glue together pieces of wood to make something wonderful. But these kits CAN be useful.
A car pulls up, and someone you don’t want to see comes to the front door.
Quick! Open the arts and kraft box and toss everything over the table.
“I’m so sorry. I can’t talk right now, I’m SO busy,” you say, pointing to the pile of ribbons, wood, nails and paint. Saved by the arts and craft kit.

11) The really ugly shirt. Wear it once and have someone take your picture as proof you wore it. Then glad rags and more glad rags.

12) The awful music. A CD of some sort of ear-splitting cacophony. If you have a cherry tree, tie it in the branches with string to scare the birds away. Or use it as a frisbee. Put it under your coffee cup so you don’t stain your desk. CD’s can be very useful. The thank you note is heartfelt.

13) The tie you’ll never wear. It’s a given that at some point in your life you’ll get a hideous tie. They can be used in a pinch to tie up the dog, to close the trunk, or to wipe up a spill. Keep it in the glove compartment in your car. You never know when you might need a garrotte.