Every holiday season it’s the same story: gifts from family members, friends, and sometimes even coworker Secret Santas who just don’t know what to get you. Clothes that don’t fit, sweaters stolen from the set of the Cosby Show, gift cards to stores miles away, and the list goes on.
Thankfully for you, we’ve come to your rescue with a down and dirty guide to making the most of unwanted gifts.
Unwanted Gift Cards
These are perhaps the easiest lame gifts to handle. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, websites have cropped to buy and sell unwanted gift cards. These sites buy your unwanted cards at a discount, and then sell them at a slightly lower discount to other users.
In other words, a store might buy a card from you for 90% of face value, and sell it for 95% of face value. You can trade your card for another card, or accept payment via check or Paypal. If you have unwanted cards, check out sites such as PlasticJungle, a site that I’ve used frequently in the past.
Selling Unwanted Gifts
The trick to selling unwanted gifts is finding a buyer the gift giver won’t know. (Assuming you can’t be honest with the person who gave you the Miley Cirus CD.) If it’s a nondescript item, you may not have trouble at a local pawnshop. This is a great dumping spot for tacky jewelry, electronics, tools, and As Seen on TV type items!
You can also try selling these things on electronic marketplaces such as eBay, half.com, uPillar, or selling them yourself by posting an ad in online classifieds, such as Craigslist. If you’re going to sell a rather distinctive item and think the gift-giver might come along and spot it, then it’s probably best to sell the item online.
Okay, so you feel guilty about trying to sell a gift you don’t want. We don’t blame you. Donations are also a viable option.
You can donate clothes and other sale-able merchandise to a local thrift store, such as a Salvation Army. You can also sell the item online, as mentioned above, and then donate the proceeds. Many charities accept donations via Paypal. You can sell that Miley CD on eBay, accept the payment, and then donate it to the charity of your choice all without leaving home. (Until you have to mail the CD to the buyer, of course.)
Ah, the re-gift. This can become a tricky situation. If you’re considering re-gifting something, you need only a few tried and true guiding principles.
Never re-gift to someone in the same circle as the giver. This is just asking for an awkward situation. Sooner or later it’ll come back to bite you:
“Did you have a nice birthday?”
“Yes! Bob got me a Miley Cyrus CD!”
“I gave him that for Christmas…”
“Oh. He must have liked it so much that he bought me a copy!”
Instead, try to re-gift gifts from family to friends, and vice-versa. Or, re-gift from friends and family to coworkers. Also, it’s best to wait for a birthday or other special occasion. It looks less suspicious. Finally, keep the packaging fresh. (Unless you don’t mind looking cheap.)
For one last thought, before re-gifting, selling, or a donating a gift, think about how you’ll handle a conversation with the giver. If it’s someone you see somewhat frequently, you might have to explain why you never wear that sweater. You can always be honest, but if that’s not in the cards, it’s best to have something simple prepared:
“I never see you wearing that sweater I knit for you.”
“I know Aunt Sally. My roommate spilled coffee all over it and I just couldn’t get the stain out.”
Truly, it’s the thought that counts when it comes to these unwanted gifts. So accept them politely – even gratefully! – and then use one of these tricks to get rid of that tacky gift that just doesn’t suit you!
Published or updated April 3, 2013.