Thanks, But No Thanks: What Bloggers Can Do With Unwanted Gifted Items

One year on my birthday, my aunt gave me a lovely bracelet. I was so appreciative of the gift – it was thoughtful and generous. However, it just wasn't me. I knew I wouldn't wear it, but I didn't want to hurt my aunt's feelings by returning it.

We have all been in this situation. While it's not exactly the same as the gifting that goes on between brands and bloggers, the feeling of uncertainty as to what do do with an unwanted or unused items leaves many bloggers drawing a blank.

How do bloggers end up with unwanted gifted pieces?

Ideally, brands and bloggers work together and communicate openly to make sure that the products being shared and potentially posted about are in-line with the blogger's style, but this doesn't always happen.

  • A designer or PR agency may offer to send an unspecified piece with no strings attached (no obligation to post) and when it arrives it's not something the blogger likes or would wear.
  • A blogger might recieve a piece and post about it, but not desire to hold onto it for any number of reasons.
  • If a PR firm has your blog and address on a press list, you may be sent care packages in the mail totally unannounced (really, it's happened to us).

There may be bloggers out there with piles upon heaps of unworn, unused items that have been sent to them, gathering dust in a closet – never to be worn. And perhaps this doesnt' bother some of them. However, most of us are keenly aware of maintaining strong relationships with designers, brands and PR firms – so we carefully consider what to do with graciously sent pieces, even if we don't like or want them.

We asked around, and it seems that there's no clear right or wrong course of action. However, employing your undoubtedly inate sense of professionalism and politess, we can make some strong guesses about proper steps to take.

Here are our best ides for what to do with unwanted gifted items:

  • First, email the brand or agency. Politely and graciously let them know that you appreciate their gift, but that it is just not your style (or something equally honest but thankful).
    • Julia from Lemons and Loafers says,”When I get gifted items that I'm not a huge fan of, the first thing I do is always reach out to whoever sent it to me and thank them profusely. The gesture of sending it and the fact that they thought of me and my blog is incredible in itself, and I hope that no one ever gets too big for a thank you. Next, if the item isn't really my style, I am honest about it. I'll let them know that their product is fabulous, but it's just not me. I tell them that I'll pass it around to a friend or family member who will be sure to talk up their brand.”
  • Ask if the sender if they would like you to send it back, or if they have another suggestion.
  • Host a giveaway on your blog (or Twitter or Facebook) for the item. It may not be your taste, or you may not have room for it in your closet, but most likely someone in your audience would be thrilled to win it.
    • Jacey from Damsel In Dior says, “If I'm given an item that I do not blog about I'll try and either give it away on my blog/facebook page or send it back to the person who sent it to me. I feel weird about selling something that was “gifted” to me.”

Unless it is specifically stated in a contract or an email agreement, you do not have to post about a gifted item. If you decide not to, however, it's good business to reach out to the brand and let them know.

What do you do with gifted items you don't want? Share your best advice and tips in the comments!


[Image credit: ShutterStock]

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28 Responses

  1. Anna

    I faced this issue twice with beauty products. Both times, they arrived un-announced at it was about anti-ageing creams, which I clearly don’t need and wouldn’t review since I’m not even 30 yet (one cream was for ladies over 45)…so what I did was to give the creams to my mum to try out. I still haven’t found time to write a review about them, but at least she liked them and is using them!

  2. Rebecca

    No need to make a big deal about it to the PR firm. You regift them. I blog about it, and regift it to someone I know would get use out of it. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars in the last year NOT having to buy gifts for people because I’ve regifted so many of the things I’ve received for free through my blog.

  3. Greta

    I sell items gifted to me on sites like and after I have worn them and used them for an outfit post.

    I also list gifts I don’t use for the minimum $1 listing price on these sites, and ask the buyer to pay shipping to basically inherit the piece that was given to me at the lowest cost possible.

  4. The Guilty Hyena

    If I’m honest I sometimes didn’t have the heart to tell some of my brands, that the item wasn’t to my liking.

    I usually gave them to my friends and family or to the local thrift shop. But I’m always grateful to receive a gift. I consciously try to put good use to any gifts.


  5. Becky |

    I was given a beautiful wool floppy hat but unfortunately hats look hideous on me! (Trust me, I’ve yet to find one that suits me and I try and try…)

    I hosted a giveaway for it, making it clear where it had come from, as it really was a beautiful piece that someone else would truly love and enjoy! It would have been so sad for it to sit in my wardrobe gathering dust.

  6. Courtney

    I usually regift or donate. However, under no circumstances do I ever sell something that was given to me for free. I think it sets a really bad precedent and I try to hold myself to magazine standards. So, I ask myself, “Would a magazine sell this?” No, they wouldn’t. So I don’t.

    • J's Everyday Fashion

      I could be totally wrong, but I thought magazines held sample sales all the time? I vaguely remember being invited to a beauty one up north – the popular magazine was unloading all of their beauty samples they had been given. And yes, by unloading I mean selling them.

      • Courtney

        If that’s true, then I guess that’s their choice, but I think it sets a bad precedent.

    • Pearl Westwood

      Oh yeah I’ve actually come across editors and models on ebay seeing their details after I’ve bought something LOL!
      I think if you are selling, people should try and do it as anonymously as possible though, I think is so crass when people do it via their blog sale!!

      • Courtney

        I don’t think it should be done at all by bloggers because I think it risks one’s reputation. PR firms are still relatively new to working with bloggers, and I think it’s important to maintain professionalism. To me, selling PR samples is unprofessional so I don’t do it ever.

  7. Sydne

    Great post. Thanking the pr firm is so important. And I agree. I hope no blogger be ones too big to do this. Wheneve I’m faced with this dilemma I’ll usually take a pic of the product on my phone and tweet & instagram something like “how cool! xyz just arrived. Can’t wait to try it!” That way, I’m getting te brand name out there and showing I’m at least willing to try it (if it’s not my style I won’t post about it). The only time I don’t do this is when I’m sent somethig that is so off my brand it’s clear the pr firm doesn’t read my blog. This rarely happens but once I was sent a plus size pair of jeans saying hope you love and post about them. My blog is a personal style blog and very obvious I’m petite. So I gave them to my plus size friend without saying anything to the pr firm.

    A few of you mentioned selling the items. Im torn. If I’ve worn them on my blog I’m ok with it otherwise I feel a bit unethical.

  8. Sabina

    Good tips: I like the idea of holding a giveaway, because a) it’s a tactful way not to keep something and b) a win-win for the blog and the company that’s looking for a bit of publicity.

  9. alison blackman

    give thanks to the gifter, that is #1. I usually either give the item to someone I know who would love it, or just donate it to charity such as Housing Works. If the item is a true gift, and not a sample you just need to write something, it is a true gift and you could sell it if you wished. But I have never sold items like this. I know some people really make money doing it, but that just doesn:t sit right with me. I think it gives bloggers the reputation of being greedy and unprofessional.

  10. Pearl Westwood

    Firstly I always offer to return it to the PR, mostly they don’t want it back and leave you with the option of doing whatever you choose. If it’s not something I would wear I wouldn’t post it up on my blog but I might tweet or facebook about it instead. I also use things for giveaways or pass them on to other bloggers or friends who I know would like them and so give the brand the publicity they want. I think it is fine to give things to charity and I don’t think it is a problem if people choose to sell things I do think it should be done very discretely. Selling gifts on your blog sale is so disrespectful, as is ebaying things and linking them on your blog. If you want to sell do it anonymously and keep your reputation with PR’s and brands.

  11. eye4style

    Correct, magazines hold seasonal beauty sales, however the proceeds are donated to charity; they don’t profit from the sales. It’s widely considered inappropriate or at least gauche to sell products that were sent to you for review or gifted. I often pass along goodies to friends and office mates. IMO, it’s too much work to hold a giveaway, I’d rather get rid of unwanted merchandise in the simplest way possible.

  12. PenelopeLaneClothing

    As a blogger I am super excited to receive samples. I am always greatful the company had thought of me and reached out.

    As a clothing store I am equally as excited to give samples to bloggers I work with. I always ask them to shop for what they would prefer first. If they do not like an item I ask that they do a giveaway. I’m never offended that an item isn’t someone’s style but the point of my sending an item is to spread brand awareness. I am still able to accomplish that with a giveaway. If the blogger sells it on a site like Thredflip then the whole point of sending it was lost. To find out that is what they did without contacting me would lead me not to work with them again.

  13. Iris

    I always do the giveaway thing if the item is not for me, I love to be able to give back to my readers.

  14. Whitley Adkins Hamlin

    Thanks for this post. I’ve handled this situation in a couple of ways you’ve included, so glad to hear I’m on track! It’s always so nice to read such helpful information on IFB. Thank you!
    Best, Whitley

  15. Isabel Garcia

    Awesome post! I especially like the idea of doing a giveaway on your blog for any unwanted gifted items. It’s a great idea to reward your fans! 🙂

  16. thankfifi

    Hosting a giveaway has to be the best option because the brand still get exposure and readers are usually happy for the chance to win something – win win!

    ♥ ThankFifi

  17. Jeannie

    I usually find someone i know to give my gifted items to. After all sharing is caring and just because it isn’t useful to me doesn’t mean someone else won’t find it useful