A recent survey by Which? found that a quarter (24%) of people said they had received an unwanted or unsuitable gift last Christmas.
Whether you’re looking to be more sustainable or want to save some extra cash,
the consumer champion has gathered ideas for how to tactfully get rid of, or repurpose, unwanted gifts.
1. Return it (and check for extended returns windows)
If the present came with a gift receipt, it should be straightforward to exchange it for something else or even get a refund. Retailers can offer extended Christmas returns policies, but some are more generous than others.
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.
Getting money back without a receipt is not guaranteed, and depends on the retailer’s returns policy.
2. Resell it online
Just under one in ten (8%) people sold their unwanted gifts on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay or Gumtree, the Which? survey found. Reselling is a great way to make money if you don’t have a gift receipt, and ensures the item finds a new home.
Before making a listing, do some research to see which platform is best for your item, and how much people have sold the same or similar items for. Which? has a useful guide on the best and worst places for shopping second hand online.
3. Regift it
Another idea is to save an unwanted present and give it as a gift to someone else next Christmas, or for an alternative celebration. Or if you have the space to hold onto the present for another year, you could regift it as part of a shoebox appeal, where charities arrange for gifts to be delivered to those in need.
4. Rent it out
Instead of giving your item away, you might be able to make money from it by renting it out – particularly if it’s an item of clothing – on apps such as By Rotation, Rentez-vous or Hurr.
Fat Llama also lets users rent out pretty much anything, from DJ equipment and electric scooters to instruments and campervans.
5. Recycle unwanted clothing
If you want to make room for the new items you might have received for Christmas, you can recycle old ones – and could get paid for doing so. For instance, We Just Recycle pays for unwanted clothes, shoes, belts and bags. It offers up to 50p per kilo, which is up to £5 per bag weighing 10 kilos – and it offers a free pick-up service.
Which? also found other retailers that offer vouchers as part of their recycling schemes. Adidas has an app feature that lets users check the trade-in value of products and swap them for a gift voucher to use online. H&M has a similar scheme where you can exchange bags of clothes for vouchers.
6. Donate to charities, shelters or food banks
Donating unwanted gifts to a charity is a great way to give something to a good cause – as new gifts are likely to be in excellent condition. Food, drink and items such as soap and shampoo might also be appropriate to give to a local food bank. Refuge centres and shelters might be in need of jumpers, coats or winter items for the cold winter months. And for any unwanted toys, a local library or childcare provider might be accepting donations.
7. Sell gift cards (or exchange with friends)
If you have received a gift card that you don’t like, or might not use – it is worth looking online to see if you can sell it. Sites such as Cardyard let you sell gift cards via their platform, but the downside to this is you’ll have to sell it at a lower price than it’s worth.
Alternatively, you could exchange the gift card with family or friends, if they’re more likely to shop in that particular store. If you do decide to keep it, check the expiry date and spend the voucher quickly. If the retailer goes bust, they may decide to stop accepting gift cards entirely.
Reena Sewraz, Which? Money Expert, said:
“Most of us have been in the awkward position of receiving a Christmas present that isn’t needed or quite to our taste and have been left wondering how to get rid of the unwanted gift.
“When shopping for gifts for others, we recommend asking for a gift receipt to ensure that if the recipient isn’t entirely happy, they have the option to easily exchange it for something they’ll really love.
“Reselling, regifting and donating to charities can all be good options if you’re unable to get a refund or exchange for a gift you don’t want to keep – and want to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with the person who bought it for you.”
Notes to editors:
- Over the coming months, Which? will be highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis. The series will cover a range of topics, from how to save money on household bills, to childcare and travel.
- Which? surveyed 1,792 adults in the UK who received a Christmas gift in 2021. Fieldwork was carried out online in January 2022 by Opinium and data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).
- Which? advice on what to do with unwanted gifts is available here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-want-to-return-my-goods-what-are-my-rights
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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