What can you do with unwanted Christmas presents? Return? Regift? Sell? Donate?

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What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received? A dress that’s two sizes too big (or small?) Or something offensively practical, such as a washing-up bowl or a dustpan and brush!? The question is, what do you do with unwanted Christmas presents?

Return a Christmas present

While you don’t have legal the right to take a present back just because you don’t like it, many stores (particularly the larger high street names) will give you a refund or let you exchange it for something else.

1. You may need a receipt or proof of purchase. If you’re lucky, the giver will have given you the receipt – either a gift receipt that doesn’t have the price on it, or an ordinary one. If you don’t have some proof that the item was bought in that store – such as a card or bank statement –  you may be refused a refund or get less than the cost of the gift.

2. You may not get a cash refund. Some high street stores will only give you a credit note or exchange the goods, especially if you don’t have a receipt. Others will only credit you with the last known price the goods were sold at. That means if they’re in the sale that could be a lot less.

3. Be aware of time limits. Some shops will only let you return unsuitable items within 28 days. However, many stores extend time limits over the Christmas period. With some there’s a blanket cut-off point of the end of January, with others it’s 30, 60 or even 90 days after the item was purchased.

SAVVY TIP: Some stores won’t let you return items on Boxing Day or before December 28th or 29th. They’re quite within their rights to do this if you want to return something because you don’t like it. However, if you’ve bought something and it’s faulty, they should deal with your complaint that day and not expect you to return.

Regift a Christmas present

Regifting — or passing a present you don’t like or want to someone else — is either the ultimate in sustainable living or a tacky way of giving on the cheap. It all depends on your view! If you’re going to regift, you need to follow these rules:

1. Only regift presents that are worth receiving. Don’t give away something hideous that you know no-one else would want to receive (unless you really want to upset them!).

2. Choose who you regift to carefully. Try and make sure that the person who gave you the gift won’t find out, so don’t regift between friends who know each other. It’s unlikely to end well!

Recycle a Christmas present

Recycling means selling your old gifts (either on or offline) or swapping them for something else.

eBay and Amazon Marketplace are obvious places to start. With eBay you can list up to 20 items a month free of charge. After that you’ll pay a listing fee. When you come to sell, you’ll pay 10% of the final price, including postage. With Amazon Marketplace, you’ll pay £0.75 when you sell something, unless you sell more than 35 items a month, in which case you’ll have to pay a subscription fee of £25 a month, plus VAT (but you don’t then pay the item selling fee).

Depop – a mobile social shopping app. It’s free to download and you can open a depop shop, then follow and connect with others. Depop charges 10% of the final selling price, including postage.

Gumtree is a free classified ads site. The advantage of Gumtree is that sites are organised on a city-by-city basis, so you shouldn’t have to traipse for miles to meet the seller, the disadvantage is that some parts of the UK aren’t covered. Some ads are free to list but others come with a fee.

Preloved is another classified ads website. You can sell for free but you have to pay a fee of £5 a year if you want to see the latest ads that have been posted.

Loot: The online version of the small ads newspaper. The search function is a bit clunky (I searched for a DVD player in London and it came up with property to rent (?) and cars for sale. Hmm.

Readitswapit Useful if you receive two copies of the same book or you want to swap a book you’ve already read for a different one.

If you want to sell a gift card, there are a number of websites, including Zeek and Card Yard. You won’t get the full price for the gift card and commission rates vary. You can also sell unwanted gift cards on generic resale sites such as eBay and Gumtree.

Donating to charity

Charity shops have seen a fall in the number and quality of donations over the last year or two, as people look to sell unwanted goods rather than give them away. Recently, several of them have launched direct appeals for unwanted Christmas presents. Most charity shops will accept unwanted Christmas gifts although they may not take electrical items.

Age UK has information on what you can donate

Oxfam has information about what you can donate on its website.

Barnados has a section on its website about donations it can accept.

British Heart Foundation has information on what to donate

The mental health charity Mind has similar information on Mind Shops.

Related articles:

What are your rights if goods you’ve ordered online don’t arrive?

Christmas shopping rights – your questions answered

VIDEO: Your rights if you’re shopping in the sales

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