6 things to do with unwanted Christmas presents

Receiving a Christmas gift can bring great joy during the festive season but sometimes they miss the mark and end up collecting dust at the back of the cupboard. From donating to charity to selling online, find out six ways to get the most from gifts that aren’t right for you.

Brean Horne Published on 21 December 2021.
6 things to do with unwanted Christmas presents

People across the UK are expected to receive £1 billion worth of unwanted Christmas presents, according to the Royal Mint. But you don’t have to hold on to gifts that you don’t like or can’t use.

Whether it’s an item of clothing that isn’t your style or a gift card that you’re unlikely to use, there are lots of ways to unlock the value of unwanted Christmas presents or pass on the joy to a more suitable recipient.

From donating to charity to selling online, we share six ways to get the most from unwanted Christmas presents.

Donating unwanted Christmas presents to charity helps raise money for a good cause while passing the joy of your gift on to another person.

Many charities across the UK see a boost in donations after Christmas from unwanted gifts. TRAID, for example, sees a boost in donations each New Year.

A spokesperson from TRAID says: “On average, after Christmas, donations to TRAID typically increase by just over 40% due to a combination of people donating unwanted gifts for someone else to use, and kickstarting new year’s resolutions to clear their wardrobes.”

They added: “The UK’s charity retail sector is one of the most sustainable high street business models at scale, diverting 330,000 wearable clothes from landfill and incineration, preventing 7 million tonnes of climate heating carbon emissions and raising nearly a third of a billion for a wealth of local, national, and global good causes.”

You can boost your donation by asking a charity to apply something called Gift Aid to the money made from selling your items.

Gift Aid is a type of tax relief that allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 that you donate directly or that is generated from the proceeds of selling your items. It’s important to note that Gift Aid is only available if you are a UK taxpayer.

» MORE: How to have a second hand Christmas

Recycle it

Millions of pounds worth of unwanted Christmas presents end up in landfills each year, but recycling your gift can help cut your environmental footprint this Christmas.

Companies such as Schuh, MONKI and IKEA offer schemes to buy back items purchased from them for cash or a discount voucher for your next shop.

Retailer M&S also offers a recycling scheme where you can donate unwanted or pre-loved clothes to Oxfam in exchange for a £5 M&S voucher.

» MORE: 33 Christmas money-saving tips

Sell it

Selling your unwanted Christmas presents can help you make money and unlock the value of the gifts.

Online marketplaces such as eBay, Vinted and DePop offer quick and easy ways to sell items, such as clothing. Be sure to check the fees that each platform charges before signing up as this could affect how much money you can make from a sale. Websites such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace also allow you to advertise items you’d like to sell or give away for free.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy the hassle of selling, services such as MusicMagpie and CeX buy your unwanted items for an agreed price.

The table below shows how much you could make on average from gadgets, books and other media such as CDs, DVDs and games.



iPhone 12 128GB


Samsung Galaxy S10 128GB


MacBook Pro 2019


Playstation 5




CDs, DVDs and games


Source: MusicMagpie 2021

» MORE: 8 places to sell stuff online

Rent it out

Renting out a Christmas present can help you make some extra cash if you’re undecided on whether you want to give it away or sell it.

You can rent a wide variety of items including cameras, power tools, photography equipment and even clothes or accessories.

Online platforms such as RentNotBuy, FatLlama and Rent My Wardrobe allow you to set your rental price and how long you’re willing to lend your item for.

Return or exchange it

You can return or exchange your Christmas present if you have the receipt for it. So have a look in the box or present bag to see if the gift-giver left it just in case!

If not, you’ll have to have a polite word with them to explain why you need the receipt.

If the Christmas present was purchased online, the gift-giver will need to complete the return or exchange on your behalf.

Regift or swap it

Regifting your unwanted Christmas present to someone else is a great way of finding a new home for the item. It can also help you save money on buying gifts for upcoming special occasions.

Always try to make sure that the new recipient will like your unwanted gift because they might not be able to return or exchange it if you don’t have the receipt.

If you notice any unenthusiastic reactions around the Christmas tree, it may be worth checking if someone would be willing to swap gifts with you instead.

Image source: Getty Images

About the author:

Brean is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. She covers a range of financial topics and has written for consumer titles including Which?, Moneywise and The Motley Fool. Read more

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