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9 ways to make money from unused Christmas presents

Here’s what to do if you’ve unwrapped a gift you don’t want or can’t use

Sister getting unwanted Christmas gift

If Santa hasn’t quite got it right this year, don’t despair. Which? explains how to turn your unwanted Christmas pressies into cold hard cash.

No matter how well-intended or heartfelt a gift might be, sometimes it falls short of the mark. Recent Which? research found that up to a quarter of people had received at least one gift they were unhappy with last year, and just a small handful were able to return it for store credit.

Following the festive season, you might find yourself lumbered with clothes, books, CDs or electronics that you don’t want or need.

Which? explains how to make the best of unwanted presents, and earn a Christmas bonus instead.

1. Sell gifts online 

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure – so even if you don’t want something, you might find someone willing to pay to take it off your hands.

If you want to raise some cash from your unwanted pile of Christmas gifts, there are plenty of sites that can help you out.

Ebay is the biggest platform that can help you do this online. You will normally have to pay Ebay a fee to list items and also hand over a 10% cut of the final selling price.

Gumtree is a way to find local buyers that can come pick up the items and the site also has a special Unwanted Gifts section of the site.

2. Unlock the value of gift cards

Don’t just hold onto gift cards you are unlikely to use – there are plenty of sites that can help you unlock their value.

Zapper offers to buy unused vouchers and gift cards for around 24% below their face value. They just need to be valid for three months from the time of trade.

Alternatively, you could list your unwanted gift card on Zeek. This site acts as a marketplace for vouchers and gift cards and you can set the price you hope to receive.

3. Rent them out and generate an income

In some cases, you might be better off renting out a gift you don’t need often, rather than just selling it.

You might be able to get a one-off £30 by selling an unwanted slow cooker, for example. But if you have space to store it, you could earn far more by lending it out to people for £5 at a time.

Sites such as Fat Llama can help you list your item and set the price you want to charge people for renting your belongings. Right now items available include hoovers, projectors, bikes, DJ equipment, cameras and games consoles.

The site claims you can earn up to £1,000 a month renting out your stuff, though of course there’s no guarantee your item will be in demand.

4. Trade them in for quick cash

If you want to make money quickly, selling online on sites such as Ebay might not be the best course of action.

It can take a while to attract bid and you may need to relist the item if it doesn’t attract any buyers, which can be a lot of effort.

Alternatively, some websites such as MusicMagpie, CeX and Zapper allow you to trade-in books, games, CDs, electronics and even LEGO for cash. However, it’s worth noting that you probably won’t be able to earn as much as if you sold the items online on a marketplace like Ebay.

MusicMagpie says it sees 30% more tech traded-in at Christmas compared to other times of the year, as people receive upgraded gadgets. At the moment the top-value tech products on MusicMagpie are:

Item MusicMagpie trade-in value
iPhone 7 (256gb) UNLOCKED £231
iPhone 8 (256gb) UNLOCKED £435
iPhone X (256gb) UNLOCKED £566
iPhone XS MAX (512gb) UNLOCKED £880
iPhone XR (256gb) UNLOCKED £500
Galaxy S9 (64gb) UNLOCKED £300
PS4 Pro 1TB £130
Xbox One X £200
iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) Wi-Fi 512 GB £385
Apple Watch Series 4 GPS 40 mm Silver Aluminium £170
Macbook Pro i9 2.9 15” (Touch/Mid 2018)32GB Space Grey £800

Source: Music Magpie

5. Swap them online or with friends

If you’re not too bothered about making money, but would rather have something you can actually enjoy, there are plenty of sites that will help you swap your stuff online.

Swapz is an online marketplace where you can exchange items ranging from books to stamps. You can list the items from your unwanted haul and you can choose to have a swap value for things worth a bit more money.

Gumtree’s Swap Shop is another option, which also offers by local area, a useful feature if you have a larger item to shift.

Alternatively, you could host a gift swapping party with friends in January. Just get everyone to bring along an unwanted gift, and allow people to take what they want.

6. Give to charity (and opt into Gift Aid)

Your unwanted presents might be a welcome gift to a charity shop – and if you opt into Gift Aid, the charity will receive a 25% boost when it sells your items.

How does it work? When you take items to donate, the charity will ask you to sign a Gift Aid declaration, including your name and address. By signing the form, you appoint the shop as your agent to sell the items, and agree to donate the proceeds and opt into Gift Aid.

When the shop sells something you have donated, it’s then able to claim back 25p for every £1 earned. So, for example, if your bag of books gets sold for £15, the charity will end up with £18.75.

Most charity shops will be happy to accept a whole host of items including clothes, books, crockery, games, jewellery, ornaments, shoes and toys. However, it is likely that some items such as perishable goods will be turned down. Some bigger shops may also take larger items of furniture and electrical items and some even offer to pick them up from you.

The British Heart Foundation, for example, offers a free collection service for furniture and large electrical items. You just need to fill in the online form to get a call-back to arrange your collection.

7. Regift to save on the cost of another present

Regifting is the simplest way to get rid of an unwanted gift and could be a way to save on the cost of getting a birthday present for someone later in the year.

However, there is some etiquette to regifting that you should take heed of.

First of all, don’t give the item back to the person who bought it for you. Indeed, it may be wise to avoid anyone within the same social circle, as there’s a chance your regifting will be discovered.

Also, make sure you are giving the person something you think they might actually like, or you’re unlikely to receive an enthusiastic response.

8. Return gifts to the shop

If you have a gift receipt or just the normal receipt, you could simply return your present within the retailer’s return period – which might be extended over the festive season.

Legally, you don’t have the right to return goods unless faulty or not as described. That said, if the retailer has a returns policy, the must stick to it.

If your gift was bought online, over the phone or by mail order, you have additional rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

You can find out more in our guide: can I return unwanted Christmas gifts?

9. Upcycle your gift into something better

It might take a bit of imagination and elbow grease but repurposing or upcycling your unwanted Christmas gifts could be the best option for you.

A surplus mug could be better put to use as a flower planter while a garish t-shirt could be made into a cushion cover or tote bag.

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for ways to think differently about the items you have and YouTube has some great videos on how to go about your project.

Have a go and turn your stuff from something you don’t want into something you do.

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