Try This Hack & Never Get Another Unwanted Gift Again

November 20, 2019 | Episode #59
Ever been given a gift you didn't like? Pretending to love it is awkward & storing it is a pain. But, try this hack, you'll NEVER get an unwanted gift again!

How to Never Get Another Unwanted Gift Again

Life Hack

The holidays are right around the corner! And while I’m not religious, I do love to celebrate Christmas with my friends and family.

Also, there are myriad other gift-giving holidays which happen around November / December: from Hanukkah, to Kwanzaa, and even sometimes Ramadan (the dates shift each year as it follows a shorter, lunar calendar — #TheMoreYouKnow?).

What’s that mean?

The potential for more crappy, unwanted gifts.

From faking satisfaction (that’s what she said), to having to hang onto and store junk you hate, it’s a frustrating byproduct of the holidays.

I’m tired of it, and I say no more!

Of course, I’m just kidding. I greatly appreciate any time someone takes the time to get me a gift, even if it’s not my favorite.

I just think there’s a better way to go about it that avoids this problem altogether.

Avoiding unwanted gifts with a gift registry

Gift registries are the answer to your unwanted gift problem. Seriously!

And no, I’m not talking about going to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond to set up a formal registry at a store. I’m talking about a simple list of gifts you’d like that you can provide to anyone.

Doesn’t that make it less special?

Whenever I first mention the registry idea to folks, they give me the skeptical eye. And, their first question is some version of, “Doesn’t that make it less special?”

I’m ready for the parry: As soon as I ask, I point out that everyone goes around asking, “What would you like for [INSERT HOLIDAY/EVENT]?” So, what’s the difference between answering that question on the spot and having a list of things ready to go?

If you said, “There’s no difference at all.”, you’d be right. It’s exactly the same thing.

Well, there’s one difference: When you’re unprepared and trying to answer the question, you’re like Ralphie in A Christmas Story trying to come up with a convincing, non-firearm lie-gift for his mom.

When you save your wish list throughout the year, and then have it ready during the holidays, you save the headache of having to answer the what do you want question on the spot.

Tip: Curate your ideas throughout the year

That’s what I do.

Whenever I come across a product that I like, but don’t want to buy just then, I track it.

I’ll buy from that list periodically, and then any that are left around the holidays get moved to my registry!

My wish list ends up in my Things to Buy list in Todoist. I talked about that back in #56: How I Use Todoist: 4 Unusual Strategies to Steal.

Ideas for setting up a registry

There are a few methods you could consider for your registry:

Simple shared document

This is the simplest, for sure.

Just set up a shared Google Doc or Sheet file, drop your wish-list items in it, and share it with your friends and family.

Amazon wish list

Another way to accomplish this is to curate an Amazon wish list, make it public, and then share it.

Online registry tool (my preferred method)

To avoid those unwanted gifts, I use to set up my Christmas registry.

Here’s why I like this best:

  • It’s free
  • It’s easy to set up
  • It’s easy to share
  • You can quickly add products from all around the web
  • Folks can mark gifts as purchased, so you avoid getting duplicates

Avoiding duplicate gifts

On that last point about folks marking gifts as purchased: I love that feature so people know what’s safe to buy.

The only downside is that you can see those items on your end too. So, it’s pretty easy to spoil the surprise if you’re not careful.

Once I have the setup done, and the registry shared with others, I don’t log back in. That way, I don’t inadvertently see what folks have purchased.

If I need to add any gifts after I’ve shared, I use the bookmark that MyRegistry recommends you use to save products. No need to log in!

Productivity Check


  • Track gift ideas as they occur to you
  • Set up the registry once per year


  • No more unwanted gifts!
  • Gifts you know you’ll love
  • Gifts that are useful to you
  • Eliminate waste
  • Eliminate awkward interactions

My Favorite Things joins the ranks of My Favorite Things this week because it’s free, easy to use, and gets the job done.

never get another unwanted gift

If you’re looking to create a personal gift registry, this is the tool I recommend you use!

Be sure to take advantage of the add-by-bookmark feature, too! That way, once you’ve shared your registry with others, you won’t have to log in and accidentally see the gifts folks bought for you.

See all Favorites from this Episode

Why You Should Convert Annual Bills to a Single Monthly Bill

Business & Finance

This is a hack I developed myself because I was tired of being surprised by annual bills.

I’m talking bills like my Amazon Prime and Costco membership fees. They always catch me off guard. I know they’re out there, but couldn’t ever remember when they’d hit.

So, I came up with a solution to the problem.

Make a list of all of your annual bills

Using your favorite tool (Excel, Sheets, Todoist, Word, Docs, etc.), make a list of all of the bills you pay once per year. Be sure to include the vendor, the month they’re due, and the amount.

Add up the total owed for all of the bills annually, and divide by 12.

That number is your new, single monthly bill. Put that amount aside each month, and then whenever an annual bill hits, simply pull the amount out of the savings. No more surprises!

I use YNAB for my list

As I mentioned on the show, my preferred tool for this is YNAB!

YNAB isn’t the scope of this episode, but I will definitely be covering it in a future one. It’s one of my all-time favorite tools, by far.

It’s for all annual bills! Here’s my list:

I use this method for every bill I pay annually. As of the writing of this post, here’s my list:

MarchAmazon Prime$119.00
MayMichigan Metroparks$35.00
AugustVehicle Registration$230.00
SeptemberDivi Filter Grid$19.00
SeptemberDetroit Symphony Orchestra$40.00
NovemberBlack Friday Shopping$200.00
DecemberChristmas Gifts$300.00

This is a rough estimate of about $1,200 annually (given that some bills fluctuate). Ultimately, it means that I need to put away about $100 per month to cover all of my annual expenses.

That’s exactly what I do, and now I don’t have to worry about any of these bills catching me by surprise again!

One surprise, bonus benefit

Seeing all of these bills in one place helps me decide two things:

  1. Whether I’m willing to continue spending money on the bills I’ve got
  2. Whether I’m willing to add any new expenses

Productivity Check


  • Setting up the tracker
  • Saving the money each month


  • Eliminate anxiety about “surprise” annual bills
  • Ability to pay all annual bills whenever they’re due

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