What to do with unwanted Christmas presents.

Unless you have written out a pretty specific gift list, chances are you are in receipt of an unwanted Christmas present. But in this age of recycle, reduce and reuse, what should you do with it? You can’t leave it gathering dust in a cupboard and then throw it out when you move.


So what is the best way to get rid of unwanted presents? Firstly, it depends on who gave it to you. If it was a partner or very close friend, and the present was truly not appropriate, your best bet is to fess up and ask them for the receipt. Otherwise, years down the line you’ll be faced with “Whatever happened to that teddy bear onesie I bought you last year? You never wear it.” For all other gift givers, these rules apply:

1. Get money or exchange

Obviously the best way to get rid of an unwanted gift is to get the cash back for it, or to be able to exchange it for something you like. You’ll need the receipt for cash, and you’ll stand a better chance of receiving the full amount it was bought for, as many items will be now reduced in the sales. If you don’t have a receipt but the item has tags on it, you can exchange at most shops, but remember, it is not a legal requirement for shops to offer exchanges.

2. Sell online

Auction sites such as ebay and ebid are good places to sell your unwanted gifts online, but remember that people are always looking for bargains on these sites. You are not likely to make more than the item was originally bought for, so settle for less and you won’t be disappointed. There are also sites such as Gumtree, which sells items in your local area, and if you have books or cds, Amazon is a great place to list. If you are not au fait with selling online, there are sites, such as Musicmagpie, which allow you to post your items to them, and they will credit your bank account.

3. Re-gift

This is something you always have to be careful about, as you don’t want your present ending back to the original recipient. And look out for gifts that have been personalised, obviously you cant regift these. It is a good idea to have a bottom drawer, or a cupboard, just for unwanted gifts, then, the next time you are panicking about a last minute present for someone, you can just pick out something for your gift drawer.

4. Give to a charity shop

If your gift was something that you are never going to be able to regift or sell online, why not get into the Christmas spirit and give it to charity? This way that bathroom set of smellies of White Musk from the Body Shop that granny bought you and you haven’t worn since the 80’s will go to good use.

5. Swap it

My friend and I are always getting clothes bought for us (lucky us!) but sometimes I just know that the hippy dress with flowers and moons would suit my friend much more than it would me. So if you receive a present that you know you don’t like, but are sure someone else would, why not ask them if they have anything to swap? That way you get the best of both worlds.

6. Re-imagine your gift

Using your imagination can transform a boring and unwanted gift into a thing of beauty! My aunt bought me a huge silk scarf with pretty patterns on it, not my thing and I knew I’d never wear it out. But draped over my old dressing table, it makes my bedroom look like a French boudoir! Clothes can be stashed away for dressing up time with your kids, and that odd mug with a cartoon character can be used for a child’s toothbrush holder.

Finally, remember that however unwanted your gift is, someone chose it and paid for it and you should always say thank-you with a note or a message.

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