Seven tips for unwanted Christmas gifts

Cost of living crisis, Christmas gifts
Unwanted Christmas gifts? With a sharp cost of living crisis and looming recession, many are looking to save extra cash. Photo: Getty

The Christmas holidays are known as a time of giving, but often we can receive gifts that are unwanted or unsuitable.

As many as a quarter (24%) of Brits admitted that they had received unwanted or unsuitable presents last Christmas, and with a sharp cost of living crisis and looming recession, many are looking to save money or make a little extra.

Consumer champion Which? has gathered some ideas for how to tactfully and sustainably rid or repurpose these gifts. It surveyed a total of 1,792 adults in the UK.

Here are seven tips for your unwanted Christmas gifts:

Return it

If the present came with a gift receipt, it should be straightforward to exchange it for something else or even get a refund. Retailers can offer extended Christmas returns policies, but some are more generous than others.

For online returns, the buyer often has to be the one to initiate the return, and the money usually gets reimbursed to the account used to place the order. Amazon (AMZN), though, allows you to request a refund or credit note if your item was marked as a gift at the time of purchase.

Getting money back without a receipt is not guaranteed, and depends on the retailer's returns policy.

Read more: Most disappointing Christmas gifts revealed

Resell it online

Just under one in 10 (8%) people sold their unwanted gifts on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay or Gumtree, the Which? survey found. Reselling is a great way to make money if you don't have a gift receipt, and ensures the item finds a new home.

Before making a listing, do some research to see which platform is best for your item, and how much people have sold the same or similar items for. Which? has a useful guide on the best and worst places for shopping second hand online.

Regift it

Another idea is to save an unwanted present and give it as a gift to someone else next Christmas, or for an alternative celebration. Or if you have the space to hold onto the present for another year, you could regift it as part of a shoebox appeal, where charities arrange for gifts to be delivered to those in need.

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Rent it out

Instead of giving your item away, you might be able to make money from it by renting it out – particularly if it’s an item of clothing – on apps such as By Rotation, Rentez-vous or Hurr.

Fat Llama also lets users rent out pretty much anything, from DJ equipment and electric scooters to instruments and camper vans.

Recycle unwanted clothing

If you want to make room for the new items you might have received for Christmas, you can recycle old ones – and could get paid for doing so. For instance, We Just Recycle pays for unwanted clothes, shoes, belts and bags. It offers up to 50p per kilo, which is up to £5 per bag weighing 10 kilos – and it offers a free pick-up service.

Which? also found other retailers that offer vouchers as part of their recycling schemes. Adidas has an app feature that lets users check the trade-in value of products and swap them for a gift voucher to use online. H&M has a similar scheme where you can exchange bags of clothes for vouchers.

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Donate to charities, shelters or food banks

Donating unwanted gifts to a charity is a great way to give something to a good cause – as new gifts are likely to be in excellent condition. Food, drink and items such as soap and shampoo might also be appropriate to give to a local food bank.

Refuge centres and shelters might be in need of jumpers, coats or winter items for the cold winter months. And for any unwanted toys, a local library or childcare provider might be accepting donations.

Sell gift cards (or exchange with friends)

If you have received a gift card that you don’t like, or might not use – it is worth looking online to see if you can sell it. Sites such as Cardyard let you sell gift cards via their platform, but the downside to this is you'll have to sell it at a lower price than it's worth.

Alternatively, you could exchange the gift card with family or friends, if they’re more likely to shop in that particular store. If you do decide to keep it, check the expiry date and spend the voucher quickly. If the retailer goes bust, they may decide to stop accepting gift cards entirely.

Read more: Christmas sales lift UK business confidence amid fear of recession

“Most of us have been in the awkward position of receiving a Christmas present that isn’t needed or quite to our taste and have been left wondering how to get rid of the unwanted gift,” Reena Sewraz, Which? money expert, said.

“When shopping for gifts for others, we recommend asking for a gift receipt to ensure that if the recipient isn’t entirely happy, they have the option to easily exchange it for something they’ll really love.

“Reselling, regifting and donating to charities can all be good options if you’re unable to get a refund or exchange for a gift you don’t want to keep – and want to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with the person who bought it for you.”

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