Six guilt-free ways to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents

Man receiving unwanted Christmas presents from partner, holding socks up. (Getty Images)
You don't have to keep Christmas presents forever... (Getty Images)

Open any presents this Christmas you weren't so sure on? Didn't want to seem ungrateful so gave the obligatory 'Wow, thanks!' reaction?

You're not alone, as more than 32 million Brits (62%) receive at least one unwanted gift every Christmas, costing roughly £1.2 billion in total – not very economical in the current climate.

But while the largest group of people politely keep presents they dislike (23.20%), according to a recent survey, regifting follows as a close second choice (22.50%) and those kindly donating it to charity complete the top three (21.87%).

So, whether it's a jumper that isn't very you, a bottle of alcohol you've just vowed to cut down on, or hand lotion that smells a bit like bubblegum cluttering up your home, Nick Drewe, retail expert at WeThrift, shares his top tips on how to get rid of unwanted gifts this Christmas guilt-free.

And that doesn't include the 6.13% of us who throw them away, or the 4.68% who very bluntly just give them back...

Read more: Common recycling mistakes many of us are making

1. Donate them

Woman hand holding donation box with clothes, toys and books. (Getty Images)
Face it: you'll never wear that jumper... (Getty Images)

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective.

"It goes without saying that the best thing you can do with your unwanted gifts is donate them to a good cause," says Drewe.

"When it comes to charity shop donations, make sure you apply for Gift Aid on your items. This is a form of tax relief that allows charities to claim an extra 25p on every £1 donation at no extra cost. In other words, your donation will be boosted.

"Other than charity shops, you can also donate your unwanted toys to a children’s hospital, as well as any books to a school or library."

So just think about where exactly your unwanted gift will be most useful.

2. Sell them

New York, U.S.A. - August 13, 2015: Ebay home page on the screen of a iphone 5 smart phone and in browser window in the background. eBay is the most visited an online auction and shopping website in US.
Sell your unwanted stuff online – but take good photos. (Getty Images)

If you feel like selling a gift is rude, it's certainly better than just giving it back, or throwing it in the bin.

"These days, you have more options than just eBay when it comes to selling your unwanted presents online," explains Drewe.

"For example, there are websites and apps such as Depop, Vinted, Shpock and Facebook Marketplace which let you sell a wide range of items.

"If you do decide to sell your unwanted Christmas presents on these platforms, it’s important that your item description is as detailed as possible. Be clear about the condition of the items, and if you’re dealing with clothes, list the exact measurements."

The more information and photos you include about your product, the more likely it will sell quickly, according to Drewe.

Read more: How to shop more sustainably

3. Recycle them

delivery, mail, people and shipping concept.Young woman sign in digital mobile phone after receiving parcel from courier at home.
Look for schemes where shops will buy back. (Getty Images)

There's more than one way to recycle a gift you aren't keen on.

"You can also opt to do your bit and help save the planet with your unwanted presents," Drewe says. "Retailers including John Lewis, M&S, Nike and H&M have schemes where they will buy back your unwanted clothes or shoes.

"If you’re wanting to recycle unwanted electronics, games and CDs, you can use websites such as MusicMagpie, which allow you to post your items for an agreed amount of cash."

4. Regift them

Save money and make your gran happy, all at once. (Getty Images)
Save money and make your gran happy, all at once. (Getty Images)

Just because you're not a fan of your present, doesn't mean someone else won't be.

"If you think the present would be better suited for someone else, then you should have no shame in regifting an item to a friend, relative or acquaintance who will give it a better home," says Drewe.

"Doing this will guarantee that the gift won’t go to waste, and you’ll also be saving money on buying something new for your friend's birthday. Just re-wrap the present in fresh paper, or put it in a cute gift bag."

If it's edible, however, always check the use by date!

5. Return them

Portrait Of Female Owner Of Fashion Store Using Digital Tablet To Check Stock In Clothing Store
You can return clothes, usually within 28 days of purchase. (Getty Images)

"To return or exchange your items, all that is required to take it back to the store is a proof of purchase," says Nick Drewe. "If a gift receipt was left in your present, you can use this to exchange the item for something else."

But you might have just one more hurdle to jump through.

"If there is no gift receipt, you’ll unfortunately have to ask the person who got the gift for a receipt. Likewise, if the present was bought online, it is the buyer’s responsibility to return or exchange it for something else.

"Obviously, this all boils down to how comfortable you are telling the person you don’t like their gift!" Of course you can always say clothes don't fit and you're exchanging for a different size...

Read more: How to beat a festive hangover

6. Repurpose them

Woman knitting at home, close-up. (Getty Images)
You can always try to tweak a gift to your liking. (Getty Images)

How crafty are you? "Alternatively, you can choose to keep hold of the present and turn it into something useful for yourself," suggests Drewe.

"For instance, you can use part of that unwanted top as a hair band, or craft a fluffy scarf out of an awful jumper. Or, if you love the style of a particular piece of clothing but hate its colour, perhaps give it a makeover by dyeing it.

"The DIY possibilities are endless!"

Watch: 'Oh goodness': Toddler has adorable reactions while opening Christmas presents