QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What are your thoughts on gifts from others that I don’t like or use, or from someone I had a falling out from? I know you say to “get rid of them,” but I would feel so guilty, yet I don’t like them stored around my house. Plus, Hawaii is so small, I’m fearful it will get back to this individual.

I get this question often, and I understand where you are coming from. So, in general, what do you do with the gifts from others you just don’t want?

In my feng shui classes, I teach three basic rules, one of which is, “Keep only the things you love around you.” The basic premise is that by having only the things you love in your environment, you are surrounded by things that emanate “good vibes,” enhancing the positive energy.


When you receive a gift that you don’t love, honor the intent of the gift and then donate it or give it away. When I say this, I often hear people say, “I’d feel too guilty,” or “That’s inconsiderate.” I completely understand this line of thinking, but my perspective is that the gift is about the intent, not necessarily the item itself.

When you let go of the gifts that are likely to become dust-collectors or clutter in your home, you circulate the energy. Do something good for yourself and allow that gift to go out into the world, potentially bringing pleasure to others. The key to being OK with this perspective is to give yourself permission to stop living by a set of rules that doesn’t suit your situation or your current mindset.

Some may wonder, “Do I tell the person I gave the gift away?” No need exists to announce to the gift giver that you gave the gift away, especially in the case of a generic store-bought gift. Once you have expressed gratitude for the individual’s intent and feel complete, you can part with the unwanted gift without guilt or the need to say anything about it. Remember, it is the intent of the gift, not the gift itself that is important.


In the case of gifts where a great deal of hard work, time or effort was put in, rather than disposing of it on the sly, it’s best to be honest and give the giver the opportunity to take the gift back. You can say something like, “I really appreciate what you did. Your gift is so special, and I am deeply touched by your thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t fit with my decor and I have no place to display it properly.” While it may initially be a tough conversation, not only is it truthful, but you will also feel much more free afterward.

It’s not easy, I know, yet what I shared may be a new way to deal with the gifts you have received. See what resonates with you, and ask yourself if it is time to change your ways.

Do you have a question for Alice? If so, send it to Alice Inoue owns Happiness U, a lifestyle studio located at SALT Kakaako where anyone can find positive inspiration and high-level guidance to minimize stress and optimize modern day life! Visit