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Seven ways to turn your unwanted Christmas gifts into cash

Resell, regift or recycle. what can you do with unwanted gifts this Christmas?

Seven ways to turn your unwanted Christmas gifts into cash

One in four of us received an unwanted Christmas gift last year, Which? research* has found.

Window de-icers, gift cards for random retailers and out-of-date diaries for 2020 were just a few of the unloved gifts we were lumbered with last year.

One person in our survey was disappointed to find a dog bed pillow under the tree despite not owning a dog, while a loyal Leeds United supporter was sent into a rage after receiving tickets for a Manchester United match.

A hardcore metal fan unwrapped a Wham! vinyl from their grandmother which remains unopened in their record collection to this day.

And others reported receiving items – such as smartwatches, headphones and books – they already own.

But of those that received an unwanted gift, two in five (40%) ended up keeping the present anyway.

If your friends or family go off-piste from your list this year, you don’t need to keep your unwanted gift stored away at the back of a cupboard.

Whether you’re looking to be more sustainable or save some extra cash next year, we share our tips on getting the most out of your unwanted presents this festive season.


1. Return it (and check for extended returns windows)

If your present came with a gift-receipt, it should be straightforward to exchange it for something else or even get a refund.

Make sure you check the if the retailer offers an extended Christmas returns policy, and remember some are more generous than others.

Friends and family might have started their Christmas shopping earlier than usual this year in light of shortages, so it’s worth factoring this in when checking the returns window.

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, though, allows you to request a refund or credit note if your item was marked as a gift at the time of purchase.

Depending on the retailer’s return policy, there’s no guarantee you’ll get any money back without a receipt.

One survey participant told us: ‘My half sister gave me a wool jumper from Marks and Spencer. I’m allergic to wool so I returned it but as I didn’t have the receipt I only received half the original price as it was on sale after Christmas.’

2. Resell it online

Just under one in ten of us (8%) sold our unwanted gifts on marketplaces like eBay, Amazon or Gumtree this year according to our survey.

Reselling is a great way to get some cash back if you don’t have the gift receipt, and ensures your item finds a new home.

It’s worth doing some research to see which platform is best for your item and how much it’s selling for before listing it anywhere.

For clothes and accessories, try Depop or Vinted. And for books, records and other electrical items, take a look at Music Magpie and WeBuyBooks.

Gumtree also has an unwanted gifts section specifically for unloved presents.

3. Regift it in 2022

One person’s trash is another’s treasure.

If you know someone who would love a copy of that book you read a few months ago, why not re-gift it to them as a gift for a birthday next year.

‘I gave my unwanted gifts to my granddaughters to give as a present to their other grandmother next Christmas,’ one savvy survey participant told us

Or if you have the space to hold onto the present for another year, you could regift your items as part of the shoebox appeal for Christmas 2022.

4. Rent it out

Instead of giving your item away, you might be able to make money from it by renting it out.

If you’ve got an item of clothing, By Rotation, Rentez-vous or Rent my Dress might be platforms to use.

RentNotBuy and Fat Llama let you rent out pretty much anything from DJ equipment and electric scooters to instruments and campervans.

It’s a great way to reap the rewards of your unwanted gift in 2022 and beyond.

5. Sell gift cards (or exchange with friends)

One survey participant told us they received a voucher for a shop they didn’t like last year: ‘What a waste! Would much rather have had a gift or even just the cash,’ they told us.

If you can relate to this, it might be worth looking online to see if you can sell your gift card on sites such as Cardyard, Zapper or Square Up. The downside to this is you’ll have to sell it at a lower price than it’s worth.

You could also exchange the gift card with family or friends if you know someone who likes to shop with the retailer your voucher is for.

If you do decide to keep it, make sure you spend the voucher quickly. If the retailer goes bust, they may decide to stop accepting gift cards entirely.

And make sure you double check the expiry date too – one participant recalled: ‘A few Christmases ago, my cousin gave me some vouchers to spend on clothes, which was nice in theory… if the vouchers hadn’t expired in November.’

6. Recycle unwanted tech or clothing items

If being more sustainable is one of your new year’s resolutions, you can recycle unwanted clothes or tech items (and make money while doing so!).

We Just Recycle pays for unwanted clothes, shoes, belts and bags. You’ll get up to 50p per kilo which is up to £5 per bag weighing 10 kilos – and they offer a free pick-up service.

There are other retailers too that offer their own schemes.

For Adidas products, you can check their trade-in value on the Adidas app and swap them for a gift voucher to use online. H&M has a similar scheme where you can exchange bags of clothes for thank-you vouchers.

And if you receive a new phone or laptop this year, make sure you look into how to recycle your previous model.

7. Donate it to charities, shelters or food banks

23% of those that received an unwanted gift in 2020 donated it to charity.

One person told us they donated their item to a local food bank, which is well worth looking into for any foodie presents you’re unlikely to use.

You could also check local refuge centres and shelters who might be looking for jumpers, coats or winter items for the cold winter months.

And for any unwanted toys, your local library might be accepting donations.

*Survey conducted in February 2021 by Yonder on behalf of Which? Of 2,100 nationally representative members of the public asking about shopping experiences between November 2020 and January 2021.

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