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What to do with unwanted gifts


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We’ve all got someone whose gifts we open with something akin to dread. Kind as they are to think of us, it can be tough to paint on a smile at the sight of a garment that you know you’ll never wear, home wares that will always look at odds with your decor, or something homemade that doesn’t quite cut the mustard. And in such straitened financial times as these we don’t want others to waste their money; nor do we need to get stuck with stuff we don’t want and will never use. But how will those thoughtful but off-the-mark gift-givers feel when we exchange, sell or re-gift their present? What to do with unwanted gifts:

Save cash

You could, of course, plead poverty and suggest that you both save some cash this year and forego the presents altogether. A well considered card and perhaps a meal or festive drinks together might save you the thanks-through-gritted-teeth.

That approach won’t work with everybody, though, so the chances are you’ll have a few seasonal horrors to consider come Boxing Day.

Keep the gift receipts

unwanted Christmas giftsSome gifts are easier to re-home of than others. For starters, anyone including a gift receipt in your parcel is half expecting you to exchange the present, so don’t think twice. Duplicate presents (great minds often think alike, especially those who know you well) can simply be exchanged, and don’t be embarrassed about asking for the receipt – after all, you have good reason. Or stash the spare gift away for someone’s birthday, and buy a replacement. Just watch the pennies or you could end up out of pocket, and keep the gift tag so you can avoid re-gifting to its original giver! It’s also worth checking first that they didn’t buy in bulk and give the same thing to everyone they know.

Wear or display with pride…for now

If the ‘carbuncle on the face of Christmas’ is something the giver will expect to see proudly displayed or worn, then get it over with quickly (think a photo or skype call with strategically-placed gift) then stash the offending article in a cupboard and give the memories time to fade before you find it a new home.

Sell on

If no exchange or replacement is possible then, let’s not be shy about it, in order to get some value from the gift it’s time to convert that unwanted item into cold hard cash (or warm, slightly sticky wonga, who are we to quibble). Ebay or Amazon marketplace might be good options, but be sure not to lose all your ‘profit’ in postage costs. For kids’ stuff you could try an NCT nearly new sale, and clear out all the children’s outgrown clothes and toys at the same time. For good quality clothing, then a local nearly-new boutique might give you more cash back.

Donate for a good cause

Of course altruism might kick in (or you might fail to sell whatever priceless ‘gift-fail’ you’re trying to shift) in which case you can always donate to a charity shop, freecycle it (good for bulky items) or, for the truly unsellable, give it to your school fete – and cross your fingers you don’t win it back at the tombola!








About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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