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What to Do With Unwanted Gifts

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GiftsWhew! You made it through another holiday season. If you’re like me, then spending time with your family is great but it can be a little draining (I enjoy it though – but you know how it’s a common “complaint”). I don’t come from a very big gift giving family but we do participate in some gift exchanges through work and with our friends. We’ve recently changed from a Secret Santa type of exchange to more of a White Elephant type of exchange among our friends, but it almost always results in some similar scenarios. In years past I’ve gotten some strange gifts. Gifts I didn’t want but that didn’t come with gift receipts.

So what can you do with them? With gift cards, you can usually find something in the store that you like. Worst case, you can always sell them. But actual physical items? That requires a little creativity.

Here are a few ideas:

Return to the Store

If possible, return the gift to the store. Many gifts these days come with gift receipts that can be used to easily take the gift to the store. You can choose something that you like better, or just pocket the cash. Even if you don’t have a receipt, some stores will allow you to return certain gifts, especially if they’re the store brand. It never hurts to ask because even if policy says no, you might find a friendly cashier.

If you have received a gift card to a store that you don’t care for, you can trade or sell the gift card. Even if you offer it at a discount, getting the cash can be better than being stuck with a gift card you won’t use. Or, you might even be able to trade your gift card for one of equal value to a store that you will shop at.


Another option is to re-gift it. If you haven’t opened the packaging, you can give the gift to someone else that you think would like it better.You do have to be careful, though, because you don’t want to re-gift to the original giver (try to remember!) and you want to make sure that the new recipient will likely enjoy the gift. You can also find out if any of your other acquaintances have need of the item. You don’t have to wrap it up as a gift if you know someone who could use it.

A few years ago, I received a gag gift that was the board game checkers but shot glasses instead of checkers pieces. It’s a gift only a college kid would love and being a decade out of college I really wasn’t having any of it. It was part of our White Elephant gift exchange so I stuck the game in the closet for a year and “gifted” it back into the system a year later. Fortunately it didn’t take up much room!

Sell It

Sell the item if you don’t want it. You can sell your unwanted gift items on ebay, Craigslist, or even put them in local Classified. You might be surprised at what people are willing to pay for the gifts you don’t want. You’ll be rid of the unwanted clutter and be a few bucks richer. You won’t get face value for the gift but it’s better than having it take up space or finding a way to use something you don’t like.

Donate to Charity

You can also donate unwanted gifts to charity. It’s possible to donate stuff in good condition and receive a tax deduction for giving goods to charity. Chances are that your new item will be in new condition, so you can claim a bigger deduction for the market value of the item. Just after the holidays is a great time to round up items to donate to the charity thrift store, or to a shelter. You can include the gifts you don’t want in your donation. Make sure that you accurately estimate the market value of all items you donate, and get a receipt for your donation.

Those are just a handful of ways you can get rid of unwanted gifts. What are your favorite solutions to this post-holiday conundrum?

(Photo: anieto2k)

{ 4 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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4 Responses to “What to Do With Unwanted Gifts”

  1. Christian L. says:

    My family likes to get lots of goofy stocking stuffers. I look for organizations that collect toys for children and donate to them.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  2. Steph says:

    I’m a huge regifter! If necessary, I write the name of the giver on a Post-it note & stick it to the item for future reference. Doing this ensures that the item isn’t given back to the original giver or to someone within their friendship circle in order to avoid any possible weird looks and resentment. It’s practically effortless and saves me money later when I need a gift that’s not in the budget.

  3. Jim M says:

    I have used all of these methods to get rid of unwanted gifts. I like to keep some gifts on hand – especially children’s items – to gift to surprise visitors.

    And they love me at Goodwill.

  4. Shirley says:

    Thanks, Steph! Such a simple, but perfect, idea.

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