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29 Dec 2020

Eight ways to turn unloved gifts into cash

One in five gave away an unwanted gift last Christmas. From returning to recycling, get the most out of your unloved presents this Christmas

One in five of us ended up giving away an unwanted gift last Christmas, according to our survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK.*

If you receive yet another gaudy jumper from an aunty this year, you don't have to keep it stored away at the back of your wardrobe along with last year's unwanted items.

Instead, you can return it, regift it, or turn it into cash another way.

Here, we look at some of the weird and wonderful presents people unwrapped last year, and share eight tips to make the most out of any unwanted gifts.

'I received a Chelsea kit. I'm a Leeds fan'

Carpet cleaner, ironing sleeves and potato peelers were just a few of the practical yet underwhelming presents people told us they found under their Christmas tree last year.

Others were surprised to find their loved ones didn't know them quite as well as they'd thought.

One lifelong Leeds United fan complained that they had been gifted a Chelsea football kit, while some vegans were sent chocolates and sweets that they couldn't eat.

One person was baffled to unwrap a Cliff Richard calendar, despite openly disliking his music.

And Christmas day could have taken a turn for the worst with some people receiving out-of-date biscuits, cakes and a litre of spoiled Baileys Irish Cream liqueur (which was thankfully poured down the kitchen sink before it could do any damage).

If you receive something you're unlikely to use or enjoy this year, here's what to do with it.

1. Return it

If your gift came with a gift receipt then you should be able to get a refund, replacement or credit note.

Double check the retailer's extended Christmas returns policy so you don't miss out - some are more generous than others.

But with more of us doing our Christmas shopping online this year, returning items might be less straightforward.

In order to make 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.

There are some exceptions to this though; Amazon allows you to request a refund or credit note if your item was marked as a gift at the time of purchase.

Take a look at the retailer's policy to be sure what you're entitled to.

2. Resell it

If you don't want to tell the cousin you see only twice a year that you don't like the gift they bought online, you might consider reselling it instead.

eBay, Gumtree or Pre-loved are three sites to look at, and it's worth doing a bit of research beforehand to see how much other similar products are selling for before creating your listing.

Gumtree even has an unwanted gifts section specifically for presents looking to be rehomed.

Depop and Vinted are two platforms used for selling clothes and accessories.

Music Magpie and WeBuyBooks sell secondhand books, CDs and other electrical items. They'll also organise a courier to pick your items up directly from your home for ease, or you can take your items to the post office.

Freecycle is another way of rehoming your gift for free to someone in the local community.

Perhaps you want to embrace the Christmas spirit and use your unwanted gift as an opportunity to give back.

Whether you've received the same book twice or opened an item of clothing that's not to your taste, it's worth seeing whether your local charity shop is accepting donations.

Opt into Gift Aid when you donate and the charity will receive a 12% boost when it sells your items.

Unwanted books or toys could also be taken to your local library.

And local refuges or shelters might also be accepting donations. Unwanted coats or jumpers are likely to be welcomed as we head into colder months.

4. Regift it

Do you really need another obligatory Christmas toiletries gift set when you haven't used all of yours from last year?

Or perhaps you know a Cliff Richard super-fan who would love nothing more than his 2021 calendar.

If it's too much of a faff to sell your gift, why not regift it to someone else?

It's a great way to make your Christmas more sustainable and ensure your gift is rehomed to someone who will enjoy it.

Choose the new recipient wisely, though. One participant in our survey received the same box of chocolates they'd gifted to the sender the previous year.

5. Rent it out

From clothes to cars to Christmas trees, renting has become increasingly popular in recent years.

It's a great way to be more eco-friendly and means you can continue to reap the rewards of your unwanted gift well into the new year.

For any unwanted clothes or accessories, Rentez-vous and Rent My Dress are two sites to look at.

Spinlister is a site used for renting out bikes, while RentNotBuy and Fat Lama let you rent out pretty much anything.

6. Recycle unwanted clothes with retailers

Some retailers, like H&M, M&S, Schuh, Arket and Monki, offer recycling schemes for unwanted clothes.

Take a bag of unwanted clothes, which will be sent to the nearest recycling centre, and you'll receive a voucher you can use in-store or online.

But if shops are closed due to lockdown restrictions, there are other options too.

You can use the reGain app, where you'll get discounts at certain retailers such as Superdry and New Balance if you donate your unwanted clothes to charity.

You'll need to take 10-plus items to a Red Cross charity shop.

Or you could use Re-Fashion, who re-sell unwanted items online.

They like new secondhand clothing, new-with-tags items, and high quality brands, from Zara to Prada.

The money goes towards a range of sustainable projects in the UK, like the Repair Shop, which teaches mending skills so people can extend the lifespan of their clothes.

7. Sell gift cards

With many high street stores falling into administration this year, buying gift cards is riskier than ever.

Retailers can decide to stop honouring vouchers if they go bust, meaning you could lose out on your money.

If you are sent a gift card this year, we recommend spending it as soon as possible to ensure it doesn't go to waste.

Or if it's for a store you don't usually shop with, you can try to sell it online instead (though at a lower price than what it's worth).

Cardyard, Zapper or Square Up are some websites to look at.

8. Repurpose it

Or you might find your gift comes in handy in unexpected ways.

A writer from the Which? Money team removed the wax from a candle she didn't like last year, and repurposed it as a make-up brush holder instead.

And one of our survey participants used a previously unwanted dictionary, gifted to them before they could read, to win first prize in a competition for pressing wildflowers many years later.

Before discarding your gift to the unloved pile, consider whether it could be repurposed for something else instead.

* Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,071 UK residents online between 31 Jan and 3 Feb 2020.

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