I recently received a gift card to a restaurant that I will never visit. I don’t want to sound unappreciative, but the nearest location is 26 miles from my house, which is an epic distance in Rhode Island terms – it’s practically out of state!
I know I’m not the only person who may have received a gift they don’t want this holiday season.
So, instead of letting that gift card lose value over time or allowing that ill-fitting sweater to take up valuable closet space, here are 10 ways to unload your unwanted holiday gifts:
Tip: Open presents carefully if you suspect you may want to unload a gift. Your options will be limited if an item, or its packaging, is less than pristine.
Charities appreciate most any donation, as long as the items are in good condition. Goodwill and Salvation Army are popular choices, but don’t overlook local homeless shelters, schools, hospitals, senior centers, and community programs.
Here’s how to value your donated items for a nice tax write off!
Regifting is acceptable, as long as you follow these guidelines.
Make the recipient feel as though the gift was only intended for them by rewrapping and dressing up it up. For instance, I may pair my gift card with wine, cheese, and gourmet nibbles.
But please, make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
Even if you don’t have a receipt, you still have a good shot at returning your unwanted gift. I wouldn’t expect cash, but you can probably score some store credit.
The sooner you return the item, the better your chance of success and many stores are more lenient with returns in the two weeks following Christmas.
Keep the item in tiptop shape and put it in a bag from the store if you have one. You may not get full price for the item without a receipt, but partial store credit is better than nothing.
Swap or trade.
Your unwanted gift will morph into a new treasure on a swap site like Swap.com, which specializes in books, media, and kids items. BookMooch.com is a huge swapping site for, you guessed it, books.
Trade in electronics (new or used) at Gazelle.com for cash — shipping is free and you’ll get a check in the mail within a week. NextWorth.com also pays cash for electronics. You can get a quick quote for your item on both sites.
If it’s a gift card, there are a handful of trustworthy sites that will sell your gift card for you. You can also head to an online site like eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist to sell unwanted goods.
One word of advice: Craigslist is quick and easy, but people expect prices to be low and you should anticipate a lot of bartering.
If you have the storage space and patience, hold onto your item until you can unload it by hosting a garage sale.
Give it to a family in need.
There are plenty of families in need in every local community.
Send an email to a select group of family and friends asking if they know anyone who might benefit from your item, or even pose the question on your favorite social networking site – you are bound to come up with more than a few responses.
If the unwanted gift is a gift card, troll the merchant’s site to find a gift for someone else.
Look far, far into the future and think about any birthday/holiday/baby shower/graduation/wedding gifts you will eventually need to purchase.
Turn it into a gag gift.
Each Christmas, my friend’s family regifts a creepy Santa mask that lights up and sings when you get too close.
It’s become a joke: Which family member will receive creepy Santa this year?
There are tons and tons of websites dedicated to repurposing unwanted items.
Do a simple search like, “How to repurpose an ugly sweater” (or whatever gift you’d like to take on a new life) and go from there.
If you’re left with a daily deal certificate, why not turn to one of the many legit online resellers?
For example, CoupRecoup connects sellers with buyers. Listing your deal on DealsGoRound is free, but the site takes 10 percent if it sells. There’s also LifeSta, which charges $.99 to list an item, plus 8 percent of the selling price.
Julia Scott founded the money and coupon blog, BargainBabe.com.