If you received a gift you really didn't like, you are not alone. An estimated $16 billion was spent on unwanted gifts this year. Here's what you can do with them.
Despite the best intentions, some family and friends just don’t get it right when it comes to choosing presents for loved ones, leaving many people with a pile of unwanted items. Returning or exchanging a gift is often a dreaded task and can be a hassle if the recipient does not have a receipt or has no idea where the present was purchased. Hence, consumers may get stuck with a closet full of goods that go to waste because they couldn’t be returned or exchanged.
According to the annual Christmas Gift Confessions report from finder.com, shoppers are wasting more money than ever on gifts that go unused. An estimated $16 billion was spent on unwanted gifts this year, with consumers disliking around three gifts they receive, worth $49.45 each on average. In spite of their displeasure, the majority of Americans choose to politely keep these gifts.
Those who receive an unwanted item without a receipt may be tempted to ask for a copy to facilitate a return or exchange. Unless the sizing is wrong or the product is defective, however, some experts advise against this.
“Whoever gave you the gift put a lot of time and thought into the gift because they care,” says Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and savings expert at Offers.com. “Asking for a receipt can cause unnecessary drama and hurt feelings.”
If stuck with a gift that can’t be returned or exchanged, don’t let it go to waste. Here are several ways to make use out of that unwanted item.
Regift. Regifting can be a great way to get rid of unwanted presents and save time and money on shopping for future celebrations. However, it’s important to consider a few factors to pull it off successfully and without offending the gift giver.
“Only regift items that are generic in nature, are still in the original packaging and are given to someone completely outside the social circle of the original giver,” says Maggie Oldham, a modern etiquette coach based in New York.
Items like candles, coffee mugs and some electronics make for great regift candidates because they’re not intrinsically personal to the original recipient. Clothing, fragrance and jewelry can be more challenging to regift since people tend to be pickier about these items. In fact, clothing and accessories were the top unwanted gift reported by Finder survey respondents, followed by household items, cosmetics and fragrances.
Ultimately, it’s important to be as thoughtful about regifting as you try to be about selecting a gift for purchase.
Swap. If any family or friends are in a similar situation and received unwanted items over the holidays, consider hosting a swap. Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert at truetrae.com and U.S. News My Money contributor, recommends trading those gifts with a group of friends. “You never know, something that doesn’t suit you might very well suit someone else,” Bodge says.
Similar to regifting etiquette, be considerate of who the present came from and make sure to set up a swap with a separate social circle. Organizing a group gift swap is also a great way to reconvene after the busy holiday season and catch up with friends who may have been too busy to connect with prior to Christmas.
Resell. Although many retailers relax their return policies over the holidays, making it possible to get merchandise credit or exchange for another item without a receipt, consumers will often get stuck with the lowest current selling price. As an alternative, selling these goods online can provide a better value.
Websites like eBay and Craigslist are staples in the post-holiday gift-selling game, but they aren’t the only places to post items for sale. Hollenbeck suggests apps such as letgo and OfferUp to sell everything from toys to beauty products to kitchen appliances. Meanwhile, online marketplaces such as Poshmark and SidelineSwap are top outlets for clothing and sporting equipment. What’s more, sites like GiftCardGranny.com are a great place to find the best value for selling or exchanging unwanted gift cards.
For selling electronics, try Gazelle, Glyde or NextWorth. These websites ask a few questions about the device and provide a cash offer based on age, condition and popularity. It’s important to compare offers from each of these sites before making a decision since bids vary. Target, Walmart and Best Buy also have trade-in programs for select electronics for people who prefer to receive a store gift card for an unwanted gadget.
Donate. Gift-swap parties and online exchange programs are good options for many consumers, but some gift recipients may not want to take the time required to manage them. If this sounds like you, consider donating unwanted gifts to charity, like a soup kitchen or Salvation Army. In addition to removing the item from your possession quickly, many organizations offer a tax benefit in exchange for your generosity.
“If they have 501(c)(3) status, they will be able to furnish you with receipt for your donation, which you can use as a write-off on your taxes if you are not taking the standard deduction,” Bodge says.
To get the most from a donation, keep a spreadsheet of donated items and file the receipt with other tax documents.