What to do with gifts you don't want

Christmas is over for another year, and if you’ve been lucky you’ve loved every gift you got… Or perhaps you received a few you don’t want too much – gifts from well-meaning loved ones that might not have even felt like they were suited to you, and certainly won’t get used by you.  But don’t fear, there are some ways you can make good use of these items without keeping them for yourself.  You might even be able to make a few dollars you can trade in for something you love.

The first thing you must grapple with is that niggling obligation to the gift giver to hold onto the gift, and even be seen wearing or using it in days and weeks.  If you think you can get over that feeling of obligation and hold close to your heart that a gift should be something the recipient “loves” then you’re on your first step to dealing with it in one of four ways: return, exchange, regift or sell it on ebay, perhaps the saddest way to deal with an unwanted gift.

The 2009 book Scroogenomics argued that gift-giving wastes billions annually because it’s so rare for the recipient to deem the present worth the money that the giver paid for it.


If you think the item you have received is fit for return to a store that is likely to give you a refund or store credit allowing you to buy something more to your taste, or something that doesn’t duplicate one you have already received, then be sure you don’t open it or remove the tags.

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If you are comfortable, ask the gift giver for the receipt or gift receipt – this will save you loads of hassle, especially as store returns policies get stricter and stricter.

If you are a gift giver, giving a potentially contentious gift, you might like to make a habit of giving a gift receipt with it, a receipt with no pricing on it that allows the recipient to return it.


If the item doesn’t fit, isn’t appropriately coloured or there is a legitimate reason why you would like to exchange it you might be able to broach it with the gift giver.  Hopefully, the giver will not mind, and the most challenging scenario is if the giver had purchased the item at an enormous discount and it is not exchangeable for a similar item at a reasonable price.

Assuming there is a receipt, you can look up the store’s return and exchange policy online, and then be sure to bring the item back to the store before the period expires. Consumer Affairs have put together a fact sheet on your rights when returning an item. You can read it here. Fundamentally, there is no obligation for a store to take an item back “because you don’t like it”, so you may find that some stores reject your request to return an item without a receipt or a credit card statement detailing that it was purchased at the store.

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If however the item is faulty, you are entitled to return it and get a full refund.


It seems that regifting is rising in popularity.  A survey last year in the US, by American Express said that 42% of Americans repurposed presents they received by passing them along as gifts to someone else, while 76% of respondents deem regifting as “acceptable.”

The most important thing I think to remember when regifting is that you should do it in a different circle to the one the gift came from.

Selling on eBay

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eBay traditionally gets a massive spike in listings after Christmas with people wanting to sell the items they can’t return or find a use for.  It really is a tragic sight.  Would you contemplate listing a gift on eBay to get it out of your house?

So tell us today: Did you receive a gift you didn’t like and plan to return?  Do you regift items you don’t want? Have you ever sold a gift on eBay?

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