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What Should You Do With Unwanted Christmas Gifts

by Craig Ford

And you thought buying Christmas presents was hard.  How about this challenge – what do you do with a Christmas gift you don’t want?

First, I hope you were able to grit your teeth, form a fake smile and manage at least a pleasant ‘thank you’ when you opened the gift.

Should You Keep The Gift Or Get Rid Of It?

To keep or not to keep – that is the question.  Whether ‘tis nobler to hold an unwanted gift or to dispose of it.  Here are a few questions to consider:

What is your relationship like with the gift giver?

If it’s a close friend, surely they would understand if you told them that you were allergic to candle scents and wanted to buy something else instead.  If, on the other hand, your mother-in-law gives you a plant that has been in the family for generations, you might need to put it in a visible place in the living room – even if you don’t like it.  Sometimes the best idea is to just ask the gift giver – “Hey, this doesn’t fit. Would it be alright with you if I got something else?”

Did you get a gift receipt?

A gift receipt is your green light to return a gift.  The gift receipt is the giver’s way of saying – “if there is something else you want, I’d like you to get it”.

Will it damage a relationship?

If someone is going to be upset at you for returning a gift, then even if you will never, never, ever use it – keep it.  The relationship means more than an unwanted gift.  In a year or so, you can feel free to donate it to your favorite charity.

6 Ways To Get Rid of Unwanted Gifts

1.  Sell it on ebay or Craigslist. You can sell everything on ebay and with a quick introduction to a few money making ebay strategies you will be well on your way to having a pocket full of cash instead of an unwanted gift (or even a duplicate).

2.  Regift. Re-gifting may be controversial, but there is one way you can regift that will never be questioned – don’t get caught.  Remember, you can even hang on to the gift for a few months till someone else has a birthday or other similar celebration.  Here is a full guide on how to regift (it even has a strategy so you don’t get caught).

3.  Of course, if it is a gift card you can follow these suggestions for selling gift cards.   But, you might be looking for other creative options for trading, selling, and exchanging gift cards.

4.  Donate it. If you ever feel overwhelmed by all your gifts at Christmas you could consider donating it to a local charity.  The gift will certainly mean more to them than it will to your closet.  Why let something gather mothballs when it can be used?

5.  Return it. Around the holidays most companies have fairly liberal return policies.  If you don’t have a receipt but you do have a tag, you can often politely request to exchange the product for something else.  Of course, returning it is simplified if you have a gift receipt.

6.  Be negligent. Accidentally leave it somewhere that you know the dog will eat it.

What do you say if someone asks you about the gift later?

I have this personal integrity policy that makes this question simple for me.  My policy is this – I don’t lie.  While I’m sure you could come up with some creative lies, I think the truth presented with a little icing on top is the best approach.

What gift did you get that you plan to get rid of?  How will you unload the gift?  Any other ways to get rid of unwanted gifts?


Published or updated December 25, 2009.
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LeanLifeCoach

Anyone need a LP to MP3 recorder? Got it for my wife to convert all her old records in storage. Out of 45 records only 2 were not scratched!

Ebay here we come!

The best part of the whole deal is I obtained the darn thing using points!

Craig – any chance of you sharing your pizza recipe?

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2 Peter

When we get gifts that we don’t want we usually end up re-gifting them. If that isn’t an option, we have no problem ebaying or craigslist-ing the item. That’s one thing about the Christmas season – it just too often revolves around more stuff – and we just don’t have room for more stuff!

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3 Craig

I don’t think the relationship with the person should make a difference. If you don’t want something, it’s a waste to keep it. either return the item or if you think someone else could potentially have use for it, give it to someone else.

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4 Craig Ford

@Craig
I do have some relatives who would be offended if I didn’t keep their gift. I’d rather have the gift and their “friendship” than the $15 in my pocket, but I hear what you’re saying. Thanks.
@Peter
I hope your family isn’t reading this they might start tracking your gift giving habits! Ebay is an awesome way to unload unwanted gifts.
@LeanLifeCoach
Sell it! But, be sure your wife gets a cut, alight?
As for my pizza recipe you might want to taste it first … next time you are in the South Pacific I’ll have you over for dinner. Nothing fancy (just a slight variation from our bread maker recipe) – flour, water, yeast, basil, oregano, sugar. I can’t tell you more because one day I plan to sell the recipe for several thousand dollars :).

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5 K. Bowen

Oh, this is my Christmas in a nutshell! Like you said, there’s always E-Bay. Thank you for the advice.

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