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Unwanted gifts

To think about gifts and giving and the old phrase ‘To accept the gift honours the giver’.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about gifts and giving and the old phrase ‘To accept the gift honours the giver’.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need an up-to-date eBay list of ‘Unwanted Gifts’, or use the one below.


  1. Ask the children if they can guess what the following have in common. Read through the list below, which is a selection of unwanted gifts advertised on eBay.

    Littlest Pet Shop Portable Pet, no 93
    New Samsung E770, unlocked
    Police watch
    Half size bagpipes
    Chad Valley Hobby Horse
    BNIB IPOD Shuffle
    Cerutti perfume gift box
    Lego Airport City
    Hand-knitted baby suit, age 6–12 months
    Adidas tracksuit, 3–5 years
    Gents Hugo Boss wallet
    £50 Debenhams vouchers
    Marks and Spencer socks, size 6–12
  2. Tell the children that you found 466 unwanted gifts today alone on eBay. But this is not the only place cashing in on unwanted gifts. Apparently charity shops do very well, especially after Christmas with many brand-new unwanted items being donated.
  3. A survey done by the London Gift Consultancy showed that many people said that they would be ‘broken-hearted’ to see their gifts sold on. Other research shows that 15 per cent of UK online shoppers plan to sell their unwanted gifts online, with another 35 per cent considering it.
  4. Talk about how you would feel to see a gift you had bought for someone not only discarded but being sold on to someone else. Choose a few of the gifts above and ask the children, ‘Who might have given the gift? Who might the gift have been bought for? What might the occasion have been?’
  5. The 466 unwanted gifts currently on eBay are being offered for between 99p and £250. We might laugh at the socks for sale (the joke is that aunties always buy men socks!). But what about the person who spent hours knitting the little baby outfit? Or what about the £50 Debenhams vouchers, which were an ‘unwanted Mother’s Day gift’?
  6. Ask for a show of hands. How many people here have been given a gift so far this year? How many of you returned it or gave it to someone else because you didn’t want it? What about Easter eggs a couple of months ago – who gave those back? Not very likely!
  7. There’s an old saying: ‘To accept the gift honours the giver’. Can you see that a gift isn’t just the thing – an Easter egg or a computer game – it’s a message from someone, someone who says, ‘You’re important to me, that’s why I’m giving you this.’

Time for reflection


Think for a few moments about how you would feel to see a gift you had chosen to give someone discarded.

Think about the people who give you gifts of love, acceptance, patience, friendship.

‘To accept the gift honours the giver’: what do you think this means?



Dear God,

Thank you for gifts that we can give to each other,

things that say, you’re special and I care about you.



‘The best gift’ (Come and Praise, 59)

Publication date: June 2007   (Vol.9 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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