What to do with unwanted Christmas gifts, when those presents, generous as they may be, don’t quite hit the mark.

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Big Messy Pile Of Neatly Wrapped Christmas Gifts.

An all-too-familiar scenario – the thoughtful gesture shines through but the gift itself doesn’t match your tastes or needs. 

What do you do when faced with these well-intentioned, yet unwanted Christmas presents? 

The good news is that there are numerous ways to navigate this awkward festive season situation without causing offense or letting these gifts gather dust.  Here’s our suggestions for practical and eco-friendly ways to pass along those unwanted Christmas gifts.

Returning Unwanted Presents

The preferred option of course as you should get the full value of the item back (if you have proof of purchase) and it can then be resold to a better matched purchaser.

Be sure to keep the original packaging and label intact and the product unused as it will need to be returned as new for any kind of compensation to be considered.

Check the returns policy for restrictions on the timeframe for return and what the store are willing to give you in exchange – for some it’ll be a full refund, for others it is store credit, or a like for like product value exchange within the store.   This is at the discretion and goodwill of the retailer – you don’t have a legal right to a refund unless the item is faulty.

Handling No Gift Receipts

Typically, you’ll need a receipt or gift receipt to have the best chance of returning an item.  Hopefully the kind gift giver has included it in with the gift or attached card just in case.

If not, here are a couple of options for how to handle the situation:

Chat to the gift giver. Try chatting with the person who gave you the gift and politely explaining that it just isn’t the right fit for you.  Whilst potentially an uncomfortable conversation in the moment, it could save you future similar issues and you may even find that your gift giver is grateful to know more about your taste.

With any luck they will share the receipt or offer to return it for you (in the case of items purchased online).  Consider purchasing a little something by means of a ‘thank you for your understanding’ as you repurpose the money refunded.

Chat to the store. Stores may still be willing to exchange within store, or for store credit, without a receipt.  An honest and friendly conversation with the staff will let you know what’s possible.

Selling Unwanted Items

If you’re unable to return or exchange your unwanted Christmas gifts, you could consider selling them instead.

If this is part of a bigger home declutter, you may wish to take part in a Car Boot Sale and sell items there.   It’s worth noting however that the second-hand value of items at car boot sales tends to be quite low so this is a method best for quick sales of unwanted goods and clearing lots of items at once.

Otherwise, there are plenty of online communities, auction sites and online platforms to help you recover the cost of your items upon sale.  Ebay and Facebook Marketplace are of course well-known options.  But resources such as Vinted for clothes and shoes, Ziffit for books and other media and Music Magpie for LEGO, etc. are brilliant options too.  You can even use resources such as Cardyard to sell unwanted Gift Cards.

Spend some time familiarising yourself with the best place online to sell your unwanted gifts and other items.

One helpful tip: Try to block the person who gave you the item from seeing any sales listing you create.

Renting Out Unloved Gifts

A great alternative to selling your unwanted things is to rent them out instead. 

Particularly good for technology, bikes, and branded clothes and accessories, and for those located around big cities with larger catchment areas. 

Sites such as Fat Llama allow you to rent out a wide range of items, whilst Hurr and By Rotation are great options for clothes rental.

Regifting Options

Controversial as it may be, we think regifting gifts that aren’t to your taste or need is a great idea.  It’s important to ensure your motivations are clear when taking this option otherwise you are just passing along the problem to someone else.

However, if you know that a gift will truly be better appreciated by someone else, and that there’s no risk of offense to the original gift giver by your actions, why not pass the gift along?

It’s more environmentally friendly to ensure the item is put to use and of course is more efficient economically too.

Word Of Caution:  Just be sure not to give the gift back to the person who gave it to you, or indeed to someone close where they may find out (or be sure to have a polite, honest conversation first!).  I *may* have accidentally regifted a treat from Jo back to her so am talking from red-faced personal experience on this one!

Donate Christmas Presents

Of course, simply donating your gift can be a great way to find a good home for your unwanted Christmas gifts and will help a good cause at the same time.

Charity shops are always on the look out for new items and preloved ones in good condition to sell so your local charity shop is a good place to start.  Reach out in your local community as well to find organisations looking for good quality tombola gifts and raffle prizes for upcoming events in the new year.

There are numerous community banks across the country that are eager for supplies to share with those in need – your local food bank, toiletry banks, baby banks, etc.  It can be worth checking your local hospital or sheltered accommodation too to see if they are in need of anything specific.

Check out our top tips for where to donate unwanted items.

Recycling Services

We don’t mean adding items to your recycle bin.  But rather taking advantage of the huge number of recycling services available now to pass along unwanted items. 

Many of the big High Street fashion retailers, such as John Lewis, M&S, and H&M offer a voucher or treat when you drop unwanted clothes off in store.  Rules vary considerably between shops so be sure to check the relevant website for latest details.

Otherwise, there are a number of online collection services that pay by the kilo for unwanted clothes.   And Ziffit and Music Magpie will take books, media, and videogames off your hands too. 

Creative Upcycling

The gift received may not be to your taste when in its current form.  But give thought to whether you can put it use in some other way. 

For example, candles can be melted down into wax melts to use, gift or even sell for a little extra cash.  Clothes can be tailored and tweaked to better match your personal style.  And if you’re having a hard time with the idea of regifting presents, how about gathering together unwanted parts of various gifts to create one new hamper-style item to pass along.  Still regifting, but not as we know it! 

Get creative with how you use your gifts and you may be pleasantly surprised by how many different ways they can be repurposed and enjoyed.

Whatever you decide to do with those unwanted gifts, try to avoid them gathering dust and taking up room at home.  What’s your favourite way of handing this awkward Christmas situation?  Read more about our thoughts on the best ways to avoid receiving gifts you don’t want or need next year.

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