What to do with unwanted Christmas gifts?

It’s that time of year again! The time to find the perfect presents for your friends, family, colleagues and loved ones. 

Christmas is of course a time of connection, celebration and kindness, but it also seems to come with some small frustrations. Have you ever received unwanted gifts at Christmas? We know we have… 

Man looking inside newly opened present looking shocked.

It may be a well intentioned pair of socks your grandmother thought you needed or the cook book from your best friend that’ll only be used as a paper weight. I’m sure we’ve all had something sitting around throughout the new year, desperately waiting to be used… but, it never does.

There must be other options for those gifts you just don’t need!?

Luckily, we’ve done some digging. To really grasp the situation, there’s one thing we need to know. 

Just how big is this problem, if it even is one?

A survey conducted this year gathered some data about the scale of the issue and how different people deal with it. It shows that the average amount spent on unwanted gifts as of 2022 was £37. With 33 million Brits participating in the festivities, over £1.2 billion worth of unwanted gifts were received. That’s £1.2 billion wasted on items we just do not want! 

In the climate we’re in – this is a problem.

The survey analysis also shows just how the recipients in question dealt with this dilemma. 

The favorable option was to keep the gift, making up 23%, whilst 22% of them chose to regift. The rest chose to donate (21%), resell (11%), exchange (9%), give it back (7%) or throw it away (6%). 

(2022, finder.com

So, why do more people choose to keep their unwanted gifts?

Is it down to moral dilemma, or just pure laziness? 

Perhaps you’ve been scared to disappoint the aunty who gave me those questionable purple chinos, or upset the friend who might have discovered you regifted. It often feels like a sensitive situation that we’d rather just avoid. 

What should you do with unwanted Christmas gifts?

There are a lot of options that, despite the delicacy of people’s feelings, make more sense than keeping something you don’t want. I’m sure there’s someone that will appreciate those questionable purple chinos… just, not me. 

So, here’s a list of some responsible and considerate ways to dispatch that clutter from your life. 

  1. You can always say no! 

You don’t have to be mean, you don’t have to be awkward but you can simply tell them the truth: you just do not need it. You can suggest they swap it for something instead.

  1. Donate it to charity. 

This is always a great option to get the gift into the hands of someone who may need it. Whether it’s going straight to someone less fortunate, or you’re taking it to the charity shop, there’s nothing wrong with donating an unwanted gift! 

  1. Return it to the shop. 

Now this is a simple idea. Swap the gift for money you can use on something you need. Just remember, this only works as long as you are actually able to return it! 

  1. Regift it.

However, this will only really work if; it’s still in the packaging, the original gifter doesn’t know the recipient and the recipient doesn’t know it’s a regift! Although some people may make less of a deal out of it, it could end up in yet another sticky situation!

  1. Sell it!

Considering how unlikely the original gifter is to notice it (depending on how you sell it), selling your unwanted gifts is a pretty safe option. It isn’t so different from returning it – instead, you cut out the middleman and get it straight to someone who wants it. 

Of course, you should be proactive in thinking sustainably and consider when choosing gifts that people will want. We can all do our part to make more sensible spending decisions when the holiday season hits. I just hope this information helps you during your next unwanted gift dilemma!