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Eight things to do with unwanted Christmas presents

Find out how to get the most from gifts you don’t want or can’t use

Last year, people across the UK received £2.2 billion-worth of unwanted Christmas gifts – but you don’t need to stick with a present that’s not right for you. 

From gift cards for shops you don’t use to garish shirts you just can’t fathom wearing outside of the house, Christmas can see you accumulate a range of items destined to gather dust.

Here, we reveal eight simple things you can do with your unwanted presents to ensure that they fulfil their purpose and don’t go to waste.


1. Return or exchange it

Try returning or exchanging Christmas gifts that are not quite right for you.

All you’ll need is proof of purchase to be able to take it back to the store.

Present-givers often leave a gift receipt, which you can use to exchange the item for something else.

If you weren’t given a gift receipt, then you’ll need to ask the person who made the purchase for a receipt instead.

Where a present may have been purchased online, the buyer will have to be the one to return or exchange it for something else.

Find out more: how to return an unwanted gift

2. Sell it

Selling your unwanted Christmas present could be an option, especially if you want to avoid having an awkward conversation with the gift-buyer about returning it.

Websites such as eBay offer a quick and easy way to help sell items, but it’s important to be wary of the fees. These could eat into any money you might be able to make.

Alternatively, you can also use sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Preloved, which allow you to advertise items you want to sell, along with images and descriptions, for free.

3. Unlock its potential

If you’ve got a gift card for a retailer you know you won’t use, you might be able to sell it to someone who can make better use of it.

Check with friends or colleagues who might benefit from it and be willing to help you out by buying it from you.

Alternatively, you can use a website such as Cardyard, which will pay you a percentage under the value of the card to take it off your hands.

The Which? Money Podcast

4. Rent it out

Renting out your Christmas gift, allows you to make money from something that might otherwise just be sitting around gathering dust.

Websites such as FatLlama and RentNotBuy allow you to set the price and length of time that you’re willing to lend an item for.

You can rent out a whole host of items, from evening dresses and bags to cameras and household tools.

And who knows, you may eventually find a use for the gift over time or decide to sell it outright.

5. Regift it

Regifting is a great way of passing on your present to someone it might be more suited too.

It will also save you money on buying something new if there’s a birthday or other special occasion coming up.

Just beware that the person you regift it to might not be a fan.

So be sure to have a watertight excuse ready if they end up asking you for a gift receipt to exchange it.

6. Swap it

You’re unlikely to be the only person with a gift that isn’t suited to them.

Keep an eye out for strained smiles around the Christmas tree as you might be able to swap gifts with someone else, so you both end up happy.

7. Donate it

You can donate your unwanted Christmas gifts to charity. To boost your donation, you can apply for something called Gift Aid.

Gift Aid is a form of tax relief that enables charities to claim an extra 25p on every £1 donation at no extra cost.

Ordinarily, Gift Aid does not apply to the goods you donate themselves, eg clothes, toys and books, but it can apply to the proceeds once they’re sold.

So to claim Gift Aid on your presents, you’ll need to either sell them yourself and donate the money or have a charity sell them on your behalf.

8. Recycle it

If you’ve left it too late to exchange your present and you don’t fancy selling it, recycling could be the answer.

Companies including H&M, John Lewis & Partners, M&S and Nike have schemes in which they will buy back your unwanted clothes and trainers, or offer you a voucher.

For unwanted games, CDs and electronics, you can use websites such as MusicMagpie to post your items for an agreed amount of cash.

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