How To Repurpose Poor Holiday Gifts

By Micah Berg

The Gift-Giving Season has its ups and it has its downs.  Sometimes, you just can’t afford to give somebody the perfect gift.  Sometimes, your great ideas turn into cruel jokes or mixed messages.  Inversely, other people accidentally do it as well.  If you have been subjected to the horrors of holiday mis-gifting, then maybe it’s time to re-purpose some of those botched exchanges.  If you see any gifts that you’ve given morphed for the uses on this list, then take it as a sign of good faith in your lesser gift-giving abilities.  They don’t mean poorly, they just want to show you how much they appreciate the – er – thought.

The following gifts are some common examples of gifts given only out of confusion or burning contempt.  If you find yourself considering the following gifts, ask yourself: “Is this a white elephant exchange?  Who am I giving this to?” or maybe “Do I want to wish this on another living soul?”  Yes, the idea of gift-giving is to give freely and expect nothing in return, but some novelty items and utilities are such a letdown that expecting nothing might leave you feeling robbed of the gift-giving cheer.  Fortunately, they can all be repurposed for immensely useful or entertaining activities.  Consider the following if you unwrap a:

Singing Bass

Billy Bass

“I demand your happiness.”

Billy the Bass is a rubber and plastic River Bass that sings songs if somebody or something moves in front of it.  Not only is it agitating, but the Singing Bass is widely unappreciated and anti-climactic as a gift.  If the tape sticks well enough on the gift wrapping, try to repackage it so that you can re-gift it immediately.  As “Plan B” tends to go though, you will quickly understand the terror of animated gifts if ever you fully unpackage a Singing Billy the Bass.  The original premise of Billy the Bass was to appeal to an audience of diabolical and avidly musical fisherman who have an affinity for motion activated music.

‘Getting ready to eat dinner?  We absolutely must listen to this song. After all, eating is a time to be happy, therefore we must forcefully repeat this happy-making song to our family and friends during dinner.

Take it away, plastic, flopping, wall-mounted fish.  Our dear company has chosen between dinner and silence.  They responded as expected.  Everything is going according to plan.’

If you find enjoyment in Billy the Bass, I sincerely apologize and I wish you the best of luck next time you invite people over.  May the last two or three house visits you ever get be pleasant ones.

The Repurpose

Billy the Bass is motion-activated and ear-splittingly recognizable.  You can differentiate a Billy the Bass soundtrack from the real deal at any distance.  You know what else exhibits distinctive, headache-inducing qualities?  Anti-theft security systems definitely do.  If you have an office room, locked safe, patio area or other spot which you want people to avoid, there’s nothing to scare off an evildoer like “Don’t Worry Be Happy” screamed by a wallfish at 80 decibels.  If the trespasser isn’t immediately sent into paralysis, an escape will definitely be made.  Best of all, you can hear it happen.


Fruit Cake

This is the rite of passage.

If somebody gets you a fruitcake for the holidays, then they most often expect you to eat it.  Not only is the fruitcake an abomination of a dessert, but it’s disgustingly sweet and naturally dry and gummy.  The only people who actually enjoy fruitcakes have surgically removed their tastebuds to allow such substances to become edible.  They typically combine said abomination with Tabasco sauce and Lutefisk.  Worse yet, people don’t cook as often as they used to.  Now, you can send somebody a store-bought fruitcake.  This way, the already-repulsive dessert is pre-dried and lumpy.  The inside of a fruitcake is the stuff of nightmares.

As a disclaimer, the essence of a fruitcake is the blend of a cherry pie’s tart sweetness and the rich breading of a pound cake.  Both of those desserts are incredibly tasty and well-textured dishes.  Unfortunately, the result of blending them is a loaf of chewy sugarcurd, which is textured like chopped tire rubber in styrofoam.  The fruitcake isn’t exactly a pie or a pound cake, and it’s most definitely not edible.

The Repurpose

If you can make the trip, then Manitou Springs, Colorado always has its annual Fruitcake Throwing Contest in January.  Maybe you can attune with your throwing arm and test your fruitcake-flinging finesse in the many contests of the annual Fruitcake Throwing Contest.  If your arm isn’t so ripped, don’t let that get you down.  Manitou Springs just recently introduced the Fruitcake Fling, where you can modify a sling shot, golf club, bow or other device to launch a fruitcake at a target.  In the larger view of things, the adventure of attending the Fruitcake Throwing Contest might actually make the fruitcake a worthy gift.

Sleeved Blankets or Onesies

Generally, these home comfort novelties are the result of poor holiday planning.  The idea behind the sleeved blanket sprouted from a purely market-based set of ‘As Seen On TV’ advertisements, and onesies are the results of an apparently demanding market for adult-sized baby couture.  Both sleeved blankets and onesies can be found at nearly every nearby department store because people tend to buy them when they have hit the end of the rope on gift ideas.  If you receive a onesie in gift wrapping, prepare for the most impressive gift you have received since a half-eaten bagel from 2006.  Even a bottle of bubbles from the dollar store will bring you more joy than a sleeved blanket.

The Repurpose

Immediately put it on and spend the rest of the gift exchange appearing in every photo with the most embarrassing poses and expressions that you can muster.  If you can’t find glee in the receiving, find glee in the giving.  Remember, revenge and embarrassment are best served hot.  The photos taken on that day will forever be remembered as “That Day That Auntie Gave You That Horrifying Onesie Day.”  Never again will you have to worry about a relative or friend awarding you in onesies.  Never again will you receive ugly clothing.  Just remember to be a good sport in the process.

After the matter of the fact, wool and cotton make fantastic kindle for a fireplace starter.  Polyester does not.

Appearance-Only Gifts

It wrenches my heart to admit this, but many people give gifts solely to look like a good person.  For example, check out how many people received empty gift cards or self-oriented gifts on Christmas.  If it is a gift card, there is no well-mannered way to ask how much currency is on the card.  It’s a terrible gift with a seamlessly good-looking label.  In fact, just do the best you can with one of these horrible, upsetting gifts.  They’re hard to be re-purposed, due to their useless nature.  However, if it’s a gift card…

The Repurpose

If you can’t absolutely terrify the person with your deadly accuracy, then maybe your Gambit-like hobby turns into a lucrative performing career.

Self-Help Books

People who desire to better themselves or overcome life obstacles read self-help novels and books.  They’re a powerful source of willpower and reason just waiting to be tapped into.  They allow you to steel yourself against the hardships of everyday life.  Self-help books also notify the receiver that the giver thinks he or she needs it.  Are you socially inept or overtly domineering?  Here, have a hardcover copy of “How To Win Friends And Influence People.“  Are you dangerously prolific?  Here, this self-help title about a stable love life has your name all over it.

The Repurpose
Book Envelopes

Book Envelopes [ Etsy ]

Separate the spine from the pages, carefully unfold an envelope, and use the envelope template to cut pages of the book.  Fold and seal your new gorgeous letters, and send a letter in one to the original giftee.  Send one every day.  Keep sending until you are absolutely sure that the giftee knows what book you used.  After all, the gift giver surely read that title before, and hangs off of the author’s every word.  This envelope template – originally by readwritebooks on etsy – is a genius way to repurpose these ill-received titles for better use.  Book envelopes hardly scratch the surfaceof things that you can do with unwanted literature.

Political Chia Pets

Chia Pet

It’s a rough day at Chia’s imaging department if this looks like Obama.

Way back when, Chia pets became immensely-popular gifts for Dirty Santa and White Elephant parties, where gag gifts are given in a random-exchange system.  For the first year’s parties, Chia pets stirred some big laughs at work parties and other events.  Nowadays, Chia’s audience ranges from panicked, last-minute gift givers to a select few persons that are apparently dead-set on giving you a let-down.  Essentially, ‘Chia Pets’ are flowerpots with greenery, shaped to represent a famous person or icon.  Consequentially, Chia tends to produce Chia pets of each candidate during an election.  If you receive a political figurehead Chia pet, your reaction ranges from one of the following:

  1. Masked Disappointment
  2. Masked Agitation
  3. Open Confusion

Either the Chia pet represents a candidate you supported, and you are soon to know what your preferred candidate would look like as a punk rock guitarist, or the Chia pet represents a candidate you despise, and you clench your fists to avoid strangling the flowerpot…

…or you get the Obama chia pet, and you can’t figure out who it’s supposed to look like.

The Repurpose

With Chia Pets, the joy of repurposing is not so much in the planter as it is in the seeds.  Chia seeds can grow almost overnight, and they have an intensely-rich nutritional value.  Go ahead and ditch, sledge or save the terra cotta bust of whichever politician, but gorge on Chia sprouts, as they contain compounds of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and other goodies.  That’s right, eating the sprouts of a Chia Pet can literally absolve that depression that receiving the Chia Pet originally sent you into.

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