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Christmas countdown: What to do with unwanted gifts


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It’s happened to all of us at some point. You fix a grin to your face because you don’t want to offend your loved one, but the present they’ve got you is a bit of a disaster, whether it’s because you simply don’t want it - think of that ‘trendy’ jumper from nan - or because you already have it.

Don’t panic though. There are plenty of ways you can turn that unwanted present into something that will actually bring you a little festive cheer.

Take it back

If you know where your loved one bought the item, then you can try to return it to the store. You probably won’t be able to get a refund, but you may be able to swap it for something else that you do actually want.

You’ll need to make sure the packaging is still untouched and in excellent condition though.

Pass it on

I have a confession to make. Whenever I get a present that I really don’t want, it gets regifted on to someone who I think might appreciate it more.

I know that’s not what the person intended when they bought it for me, but in my view it’s better that it goes to someone who might like it rather than gathering dust at the back of my cupboard.

Plus it helps to save a few pounds at what is the most expensive time of the year, so there’s an added financial benefit too.

Auction it

Auction sites like eBay do a roaring trade at this time of year, as people across the land put those gifts that they don’t fancy up for bidding.

Of course, just because the gift isn’t your cup of tea, that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of people out there looking for something just like it.

Be sure to check the fees that apply to any listing you place. You can list up to 20 items a month absolutely free with eBay, though there are various things you can do to ‘upgrade’ your listing that come with additional charges. For example, adding a ‘Buy It Now’ price will cost an additional 50p for each item.

You’ll also need to consider deliveries, and whether you’re willing to cover the costs or the successful bidder will have to stump up for that as well.

Flog it online

Auction sites aren’t your only option if you want to sell something online. There are now a host of marketplaces you can choose from too.

For example, Amazon runs its Amazon Marketplace, while the likes of Gumtree, Preloved and even Facebook Marketplace are also worth a look.

A big selling point with the Facebook Marketplace is that you can list the items on local pages, which should make delivery a lot easier - and cheaper.

Swap it

If you’ve been lumbered with an unwanted gift, then you could always attempt to swap it for something you actually do want.

With clothes for example, you could try Swishing or Rehash, which allow you to trade your clothes with other people online.

If you’ve been given a book that you don’t really fancy the look of, then Books Free Swap and Book Mooch are both an option, while Swapz.co.uk reckons you can swap absolutely anything on its site. Current listings include a Mercedes C200, an Xbox One and an old Stereophonics CD. So you really do get all sorts on there.

Donate it

Finally, if you can’t think of someone you know who might like the item, and you can’t face the hassle of attempting to sell it online, you could always simply donate the unwanted present to a local charity shop.

That way at least you know that the money raised from selling the present on will go towards helping out those in need.


John Fitzsimons is a freelance financial journalist who has been writing about money for more than a decade, appearing in the likes of the Sunday Times, the Mirror, the Sun and Forbes.