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Published 22 December 2022
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6 minutes

6 Things To Do With Unwanted Christmas Gifts

If your Christmas presents missed the mark this year, try one of these six simple ways to get the most from your gift.

Each year UK shoppers spend approximately £4 billion on unwanted gifts, according to the Environment Agency. But rather than leaving them to collect dust in a cupboard or throwing them away, there are ways to unlock value from presents that aren’t right for you.

From donating to charity to making a lucrative sale, we share six ways to get the most out of your unwanted Christmas gifts.

Donating unwanted Christmas presents to charity gives your gift another chance to improve someone else’s life while raising money for a good cause.

Kelly Castelete, spokesperson at The Salvation Army, says: “Not only will those unwanted clothes or gifts become a much loved item for someone else to enjoy, but it will avoid them going to landfill or disposal.”

Charities across the UK typically see a rise in donations during the festive period, often due to the donation of unwanted gifts.

Castelete continues: “We see our biggest peaks in clothing bank donations after Christmas and into the new year. Our retail stores are also busy at this time as we receive lots of unwanted and new Christmas gifts.”

And as an added bonus for the charity, if you are a UK taxpayer, you can boost eligible donations using a tax relief called Gift Aid. Gift Aid allows you to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you donate to a charity directly.

Recycle it

According to research from Less Waste, a local council initiative in Leicestershire, waste levels go up by 30% during the festive period. And, over £40 million worth of unwanted Christmas gifts were thrown away in 2021 alone, according to research from packaging firm the GWP Group. So recycling your unwanted Christmas gifts can also help make your festive celebrations more environmentally friendly by tackling the amount of waste ending up in landfill.

Fashion retailers including Monki, Schuh and M&S offer recycling schemes where you can bring pre-loved clothes or shoes from any store. In return, they’ll give you a gift card or voucher to spend in store or online. IKEA runs a similar scheme for its secondhand furniture.

Rent it out

Renting out any unwanted Christmas gifts offers you the chance to boost your income while giving others access to items they only need temporarily or might not be able to afford outright. Sign up on online platforms, including RentMy and Fat Llama, that allow you to rent out your items.

Tom West, founder of RentMy, says: “It gives access to people that otherwise can’t afford it, haven’t got storage space or simply don’t want to buy something. It also allows people to try something new and make an informed decision, rather than buying an item, using it once and it being wasted.”

Popular items that people rent out include cameras and camera equipment, tools, bikes and outdoors equipment, such as paddle boards and canoes. Depending on the make and model of your item, you could make hundreds of pounds a day.

West continues: “With many unwanted Christmas presents getting put in the cupboard for years until they are eventually thrown away, the carbon spend of producing that item is expensive. Compare this to something that gets rented out several times over the course of its life and the carbon spend is reduced drastically.”

Sell it

Selling any unwanted Christmas gifts can help you make money from the comfort of your home. Many online marketplaces, including eBay, Vinted, Depop and Shpock, allow you to sell a wide range of items from clothing to technology. However, some platforms charge a fee or commission when you make a sale. So it’s important to check before listing your items because this can affect how much money you make.

If you don’t fancy the hassle of selling the items yourself, services such as musicMagpie and CeX offer an alternative. They buy your unwanted presents at a set price, so all you have to do is get a quote for your items and trade them in if you’re happy with the price. Always check the terms and conditions before signing up as there may be a minimum value you’ll need to qualify. There may also be a limit on how many items you can sell within an order.

The table below shows how much you could make, on average, from last year’s top gadgets, games and CDs.

iPhone 13£510
Samsung Galaxy S21£230
Google Pixel 5£99
Ipad Air5 (2022)£428.87
Xbox Series X£280
Ninetendo Switch (Oled)£175
Macbook Pro 16" (2021)£1,117
Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular 45mm Graphite Stainless Steel£160
Blu Ray£3

Source: musicMagpie (2022)

Liam Howley, spokesperson at musicMagpie, says: “Many people will receive new tech products also, with devices like iPhones, consoles, smart watches and tablets being high on Christmas lists, so it’s important the tech they were using before doesn’t go into the back of a drawer to collect dust and is traded in for money and for the environment.”

Regift it

Regifting an unwanted Christmas present can help you find a new home for the item and save money on buying gifts in the future.

Before regifting, there are a few things to consider to ensure that the new recipient of the item benefits from your present. For example, ensure the gift is brand new and doesn’t include any personalisation that suggests it was a present for you.

Laura Ceccherini-Windsor, etiquette expert, says: “Make sure you are certain that the gift is something the recipient would really like to receive. It is also important to keep a log of the gifts you want to re-gift along with the names of the people who gave them to you. You never want to face the embarrassment of giving a gift to the person who gave it to you in the first place.”

Return or exchange it

You can try to return or exchange a Christmas gift that isn’t quite right for you in the shop with a valid receipt. First, be sure to check whether the gift giver left a receipt with your present. If not, consider having a polite chat with them to explain why you need the receipt.

Christmas gifts purchased online will have to be returned or exchanged by the buyer on your behalf.

If you don’t have the receipt, some stores will allow you to get an exchange or credit note, if it’s clearly visible that the item was purchased from them. However, remember that this is at the retailers’ discretion and not something they have to honour.

You’ll usually have 30 days to return an item after the purchase date. But many stores extend this period during the Christmas period to give shoppers more time. It’s important to check the returns policy to ensure you can get the money back or exchange the item in time.

But whatever you choose to do, don’t let that unwanted gift sit unused. Instead, turn it into something you or someone else will enjoy.

Image source: Getty Images

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