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7 Things to Do with the Christmas Gifts You Don’t Want

Updated on December 10, 2010

We are lucky to receive Christmas gifts from people every year. Unfortunately, sometimes even the people who know us best make some bad choices about what to gift us with during the holiday season and we end up with a number of different things that we don’t want. Most of us stick those items away in a closet because we don’t know what else to do with them. That ends up creating clutter that we don’t need, though.

Here are seven things that you can do if you receive a gift that you don’t want this Christmas:

1.     Return or exchange it. Luckily many people are aware of the fact that they may not pick out the right item. As a result, they include a gift receipt that lets you know where they got the item. You can take it to the store where they got it and exchange it for something that you want. This is the perfect thing to do if you get something from a store that you like but the item that you get isn’t something you wanted (or doesn’t fit).

2.     Re-gift it now. If you open an item that you don’t like and you still have other people to give gifts to this holiday season then don’t hesitate to re-gift the item to the other person. Try to re-gift items to people who will appreciate them. For example, if you get a sweater that you don’t like but you know that your sister would wear it then it’s totally appropriate it to gift it to her. Not sure if you should re-gift? Check out the rules on re-gifting.

3.     Re-gift it later in the year. Take all of the items that you don’t want now and set them aside to give as birthday or anniversary gifts later in the year. Put a tag on the item now reminding you who the item is supposed to go to. You may also want to write yourself a note reminding you who gave you the item so that you don’t mistakenly re-gift it to them!

4.     Give it to someone you know without making it a gift. Some people feel weird about the idea of re-gifting someone. They don’t like the idea of pretending that they’ve purchased an item for someone when they haven’t. That’s okay; you don’t actually have to wrap the item up and make it a gift to give it away to someone you know. If an item that you receive would be great for someone in your life and you’re uncomfortable with formal re-gifting then just drop it off to them unwrapped and tell them the truth – that you got it from someone else and didn’t want it but thought that it’d be great for them. This is an especially great way to get rid of things when you have family who would like what you’ve received.

5.     Sell the item. If you receive something that can be sold then by all means make a little bit of cash off of it. Clothing can be sold online or to local used clothing stores especially since it’s brand new. Consumer electronics, video games and kitchen accessories are all great items for resale as well.

6.     Swap the item. Swaps of all kinds are an increasingly common way to get rid of items that you don’t want. There are book swaps, clothing swaps and swaps for kids’ toys. These are available locally in some areas but are also available to participate in online. This is a great way to turn an item that you’ve received but don’t want into something that you do want without spending any money (except maybe the cost of shipping the item if you’re doing an online swap).

7.     Donate the item. If you receive something that you don’t want and you can’t sell it then consider donating it to someone else. It’s tempting to hang on to the item because it was a gift but it’s much better to give it to a home where it will actually get some use.  

What do you do when you receive a gift that you don’t want to keep?


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  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    It is a very hard decision what to do especially if it was given with the best intention. Thank you for great tips.

  • ocbill profile image

    ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

    On re-gifting, it seems to always be a sweater for me as well. I re-gifted it and gave it to a friend to give to her brother overseas so no chance of seeing it rear its head again from the person who gave it to me.

  • Nick Malizia profile image

    Nick Malizia 7 years ago from USA

    I'm so glad "donate it" was on there. :-). As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another's treasure." Happy Holidays to all who read this. :D

  • charlesroring profile image

    charlesroring 7 years ago

    Because I like traveling, I often bring the gifts and donate them to people whom I know really need them. I live in West Papua province of Indonesia where a lot of people still live in isolated places. Even used t-shirt is precious to a boy. So, I often bring my old t-shirt with me which I will give to one of the poor boys in the mountains as a gift.

  • Donna Janelle profile image

    Donna Janelle 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    These are great ideas!! I usually return things I get that I don't want, but some things occasionally get regifted :)

  • hospitalera profile image

    hospitalera 7 years ago

    We are planning a fundraiser in January to raffle off unwanted gifts at our Church, we did it before and it raised some money for charity plus it was great fun ;-) SY

  • evvy_09 profile image

    evvy_09 7 years ago from Athens, AL

    Great ideas. I sort of regifted once but it was cash and I was so so broke at the time so I used it to buy gifts for everyone, including the one that gave it to me.