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What to do with Unwanted Christmas Gifts: 5 Ideas to Make Lackluster Xmas Gifts Merry and Bright

Are you already anticipating what to do with unwanted Christmas gifts you will receive this holiday season? Or maybe it has been a few years since you have been with your family for the holidays, and everyone has forgotten everyone’s favorites. Either way, the following guide will help you take gifts Scrooge would scoff at and turn them into holiday cheer. Keep reading for several repurposing ideas and to get reunited with family Christmas traditions.

Picture this: you just spent two days traveling home for the holidays; one missed flight, two rough landings, and a chatty Uber driver later and you’ve arrived. Your entire family has gathered under the same roof for the first time in a year. The food was delicious, mom even made your favorite mac and cheese from scratch. Uncle Rick hasn’t even said anything inappropriate yet. Everything appears to be going great. A swell evening, and what better way to end a holiday gathering than with a little Christmas gift-giving?

Aunt Sue walks over and hands you a beautifully wrapped box she knows “you are going to love.” You unwrap the green paper decorated with laughing Santas carefully, taking time to shake it and estimate what could be inside, which amuses Aunt Sue, the rest of your family, and seemingly the laughing Santas you are dismembering. You get down to the cardboard box and undo the last piece of tape. The big reveal: a pair of bright pink slippers that are four sizes too small.

What do you do? Yell at Aunt Sue, making a point to emphasize how little she knows about you?

Of course not. Be grateful. Smile wide and tell her they are perfect, exactly what you wanted, and lie through your teeth in hopes of protecting the “perfect” evening your family has constructed.

But what do you do days later when you still hate the shoes? Well, here are several options for unwanted gifts:

5 Ideas to Recycle, Repurpose and Return Unwanted Xmas Gifts

  1. Visit a donation center
  2. Return the slippers
  3. Regift them to Aunt Sue next year
  4. Sell them as “limited edition” on eBay
  5. Swap them with someone with “different” taste

Charity shops & donation centers

This is the most obvious solution to your Christmas dilemma. Not only will you be able to rid yourself of the dreaded pink slippers, but you also will hopefully be able to spread a little Christmas cheer by supporting a good cause and giving someone else the chance to own them. However, it is important to remember that not all unwanted gifts can be donated. There are several items charity shops and donation centers can’t take. Goodwill, for instance, will not take the following items:

  1. Personal Care Items: shampoo, body wash, shavers, holiday shaving packs, etc.
  2. Fragrance Items: cologne, perfume, etc.
  3. Weapons: guns, bows, ammunition and arrows, etc.
  4. Exercise equipment

An independent or local charity shop might have different guidelines as to what they will and won’t accept. It is best to call ahead if you are unsure, but when trying to figure out what to do with unwanted Christmas gifts, donating them is a worthy option.

Return the gifts

We know, it sounds impolite. But honestly, Aunt Sue will most likely never know, and even if she did, she did gift her 25-year-old nephew pink slippers after all. She had it coming.

Furthermore, returning unwanted Christmas gifts has become more common in recent years, and more and more retailers are starting to loosen their return policies as they expect returns sometimes up to 30 days after the holiday season. If your unwanted Christmas gift was wrapped with a gift receipt, you should hold onto this and bring it with you when negotiating your return.

Most likely, if you don’t have a gift receipt, the retailer will be able to offer you store credit, which could allow you the freedom to see all the perfectly reasonable gifts Aunt Sue could have picked out for you. Though occasionally, if you don’t have a gift receipt, the retailer might only be able to credit the card the gift was purchased with by locating the transaction using internal methods.

This would be a great option if you are not worried about Aunt Sue seeing the money bounce back on her account, but if you are trying to save face, you might want to try another repurposing method!

Regifting at its finest

Regifting gets a bad wrap (see what we did there?), but there are several positives to support the practice. At the forefront, regifting enables you to take a product that would otherwise gather dust in your closet and productively gift it to someone you know who will enjoy it.

When should you not regift a Christmas present?

When you know the person you are regifting to is not going to like the present any more than you did. Don’t be Aunt Sue. In the case of bright pink slippers, it might be difficult to find someone whose style could support such an outlandish footwear decision. Would your little sister be fond of them? If not, those slippers might just have to be donated, returned or sold?

Sell your unwanted gifts on eBay

Yes, selling your unwanted Christmas gifts is an option. Resale websites like eBay or apps like OfferUp are perfect platforms for conducting such a transaction. Chances are you are already familiar with the platform and several others like it.

However, if you are not, all you need to do is set up a listing for the item you are looking to sell. Characteristics of a stellar digital commerce listing, according to eBay, are as follows:

  1. Clear, descriptive, and complete title: Cozy Pink Men’s Slippers size 11.5
  2. Item specific details: SZ: 7 Brand: slipperco. Color: Pink
  3. Be honest about the condition: Brand new, never worn
  4. Add effective pictures to the listing
  5. Choose a reasonable starting price: $20 obo

Swapping Xmas gifts

Similar to regifting, swapping your unwanted Christmas gift with another is also an option. This option works well if you already know of a friend or family member who is also looking to repurpose an unwanted gift that you had your eye on. Did Aunt Sue really give your little sister a pair of retro Jordan 1s?

Maybe she would love a pair of pink slippers, they might even be her size. Wait, are those Jordans size 11? You might even find out that Aunt Sue couldn’t distinguish between the two gifts once they were adorned with the same laughing Santas. Maybe the pink slippers were not even intended for you.

Anyway, if you do decide to swap gifts with a friend or family member, you should try to do so as discreetly as possible. There is no need to hurt Aunt Sue’s feelings or the feelings of the person who gave you the gift. Try doing the swap after the party is over or even a few days later.

Unwanted Presents can be Positive!

Holiday gift-giving doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s only natural that some presents simply don’t fit within our expectations. This doesn’t mean you have to make your holiday party awkward, or that you must keep the unwanted present forever. Donating, returning, regifting, selling and swapping are all acceptable means to get the most out of an unwanted Christmas gift.


Q: What do you do with unwanted Christmas presents?

A: The best ways to positively reuse an unwanted Christmas gift are donating, returning, regifting, selling and swapping. Make sure to keep the gift giver’s feelings in mind when utilizing any of these.

Q: What is the most unwanted Christmas gift?

A: Clothing, shoes and accessories are the most returned Christmas gifts. Improper sizing, style preferences and brand affiliation all contribute to the high return rate of these Christmas gifts.

Q: Where can I see unwanted Christmas gifts?

A: Facebook Marketplace, eBay, OfferUp and Gumtree are all great platforms to sell unwanted Christmas gifts.

Winding Down from the Holidays?

Okay, so maybe you just couldn’t convince yourself to sell Aunt Sue’s gift and you are worried about her asking about those slippers next year.

Once Christmas comes and passes, pack your Christmas ornaments and store them together, along with your 6-ft.-tall inflatable gingerbread men and other holiday decorations.

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