What to Do With Unwanted Gifts


Tis’ the season…for an ugly sweater, too-big pajamas or headache-inducing cologne. You don’t have to suffer in silence with your unwanted gifts gathering dust after the holidays. There are a variety of ways to unload unwanted presents without offending the giver by asking for the receipt.

“People are very inventive about unwanted gifts these days,” says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University.  “Social media has opened up new options.”

One of the easiest ways to get rid of an unwanted gift is to return or exchange it for something you want, granted you know where it was purchased. According to Whitson Gordon, editor-in-chief at lifestyle blog LifeHacker.com, many retailers relax (not always “officially”) their return policies right after the holidays.

“If you try hard enough or try different cashiers at a store someone will let you return it,” he says. But don’t wait too long to return or exchange a gift: That holiday cheer isn’t going to last forever. He expects retailers to tighten their policies a few weeks after the new year.

Keep in mind that if you do return or exchange a product without a receipt it most likely means you will only get back its lowest sale price.

You could keep the festivities going by hosting a white elephant party to dispose of undesirable gifts. At this gift exchange party, all the party goers bring a rewrapped unwanted gift and exchange it for someone else’s unwanted gift.

“Rules can be found online and of course you'll want to check beforehand to make sure that the giver isn't attending the party,” says Yarrow.  “These parties are hilarious good fun.”

You could also try to make some cash off your unwanted gifts by selling them online. There’s a host of places you can list your unwanted items online like Craig’s List, eBay and even Amazon.com. You may not get the full price selling it online, but it’s better than nothing.

If the thought of listing a gift solo seems overwhelming, there are services like Fulfillment by Amazon that will do all the work for you.

With Amazon’s service, you send the goods and the company sells them on your behalf.  Gordon  says Amazon takes a small cut of the sale and sends you the rest. “It doesn’t require a lot of work on your part,” says Gordon. “It may not be as lucrative as selling it yourself, but it’s the easiest way to get rid of stuff you don’t want.”

Selling an unwanted gift card is much easier. There are several websites that let you sell or swap gift cards for other cards or cash.

Donating unwanted gifts is also easy option that not only helps out those in needs, but can also bring a tax break. Yarrow says schools, libraries and community centers would likely be receptive to donations--especially around the holidays.