What can I do with unwanted Christmas gifts?

Let’s face it, there’s usually at least one present under the tree that we’d probably rather not have unwrapped.

Whether it’s that ill-fitting jumper from Great Auntie Janet, the crossword book you’re never going to do, or the foot spa that you know will end up gathering dust under the bed, unfortunately some well-meaning gifts just don’t hit the mark.

Rather than consign your unwanted presents to the bin, check whether you can swap them for something you do want or see if you might be able to sell them on. Here’s a few ideas for how to go about it.

Know your rights when presents are wrong

If the person who’s given you your unwanted present has provided you with a gift receipt, then you should be able to return your gift and swap it for something you do want. There’s usually a specified period on the receipt when you can return the present, typically 28 days, so make sure you take it back within this timeframe.

If you haven’t got any proof of purchase, shops have no legal obligation to let you exchange your gift for something else. Many, however, will agree to do this as a goodwill gesture, so it’s worth asking, especially if it’s clear the goods can’t have been purchased anywhere else.

Remember that if you’ve been given perishable goods such as food or plants, or items like make-up or pierced earrings, you may not be able to return these, so check with the shop in question before you take them back.

If the present you’ve received doesn’t work or is faulty, then under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 the person who bought it has the right to get their money back if the fault has developed within 30 days of purchase. If you discover a fault with your gift within the first six months of having it, it can still be returned to the retailer, and they must either attempt to repair or replace it, or failing that, provide a refund, unless they can prove that the fault wasn’t there when the gift was bought.

You’ll have to let the person who gave you the present know that the gift they’ve given is faulty, as it’s only the purchaser who’s entitled to a refund, repair or replacement and not the recipient.

Selling unwanted gifts

One in seven of us have sold an unwanted Christmas gift, according to research from marketplace app Shpock in association with YouGov.

Last year Shpock saw a 46% increase in listings for unwanted gifts in the two weeks after Christmas. These are listings where the seller has specifically stated “unwanted gift” or “unwanted present” in the product description, letting potential buyers know the product is unused and/or in original packaging. Shpock users can find a list of unwanted gifts looking for a new home here.

When you sell via Shpock using PayPal, the app takes a fee based on the sales price of the item you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling an item for up to £10, the fee is 50p, rising to £3.50 if the item’s sales price is up to £100 and £10 if the sales price is up to £1,000. PayPal also applies fees to sellers, charging 3.4% of the sale’s price plus 20p.

Another popular place to sell unwanted Christmas gifts is the auction site Ebay.co.uk, where when your item sells, you pay 10% of the final transaction value including postage.

There are other options if you want to steer clear of selling fees. Social media site Facebook.com, for example, has thousands of ‘Facebay’ pages dedicated to selling items, where you can advertise your items for free. Simply enter ‘Facebay’ into the ‘search’ box at the top of your Facebook home page and it should come up with the selling sites in your local area. You’ll usually have to click ‘join group’ on the particular Facebay page you want to join, and a group admin will need to approve your request before you can start selling.

You can also usually post ads for free on classifieds site Gumtree.com. There are also several sites which specialise in selling specific items, such as unwanted CDs, DVDs or mobile phones and other tech. Find out more about these in our article How to make money from your clutter.

Give items to charity

Charity shops are often on the lookout for items which they can sell to raise money, so will usually be very grateful to receive any unwanted Christmas presents, especially if they’re still in the original packaging.

You can either drop in your donation yourself, or if you’re giving away larger items, such as furniture, many charities will collect these free of charge. Charities won’t typically accept white goods, or furniture which doesn’t have fire safety labels.

Furniture store Furniture Choice offers a useful online tool for finding your nearest locations that will accept unwanted furniture here.

If your grandchildren have unwanted toys they’ve received for Christmas, local nurseries, children’s centres and primary schools will all be happy to take them off their hands.

If you’ve been given food you don’t want, or that’s not compatible with your New Year diet, consider giving it away to your nearest food bank. The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks, has a handy tool to help you find the nearest food bank to you here.

Consider re-gifting

If you can think of someone who would really appreciate a Christmas present you don’t like, why not consider re-gifting it to them next year?

Make sure they don’t know the person who gave you the present though, or you might face a few awkward questions…

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