Get Ready for the Holidays: What to do with the Gifts you Didn’t Love?

Well, we’ve gotten through Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and Christmas together! New Years is just around the corner, and we will have officially gotten through the holidays.   I hope you were able to use some of my tips and advice along the way, and it helped make your holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable!  I’ve got a few posts left for the holiday series… the ones that make the most sense for AFTER Christmas, not before.

Today’s post:  What to do with the gifts that you just didn’t love at Christmas.

unwanted gifts

First things first.  It’s okay not to love everything you received, especially if you’re embracing the “it’s the thought that counts” mentality of gift giving.  Whether or not you got what you REALLY wanted, or if things you got make you scratch your head and say, “why would she have gotten me this?” or “what the heck am I going to do with THIS now?” it’s always important to keep in mind that people usually *want* to be good gift givers and make you feel well-thought-of when you open that present, but not everyone nails it.

So, you’ve got some stuff. Maybe you have things that just don’t fit, or not your style. Perhaps you received duplicates of something. Or there’s a gift card for some place you actually can’t imagine shopping in at all. Or a video game for the wrong game system.

Some of you will say, “I just can’t get rid of it. It will offend the gift giver. I just have to stash this away and hope s/he never asks about it.”  You’ve taken it on as your own problem, and while I personally don’t love that answer, I get it that it happens. The guilt can be overwhelming.  Just remember this:  When the person bought you this gift, his/her intention was not to make you feel badly!  The gift giver wanted you to be happy and like your gift.  If you didn’t, then NEITHER of you are happy.  Nobody wins.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to separate from the guilt, and are able to move forward with a plan of “what to do with this”.  Here are a few options to keep in mind:


  • Best case scenario, you have something you need to return AND a gift receipt (or a good enough relationship with the gift giver that you don’t feel uncomfortable asking for the receipt).  Just because you have a receipt doesn’t mean that all stores will take it back whenever.  Some stores have a short time frame for their return policy  (such as 30 days from purchase, or 15 days after Christmas, etc) so, research the stores policy and make the return trip a priority in your schedule.

  • Worst case:  you don’t have the receipt, and can’t get one. Many stores will work with you with a “Store Credit” gift card.  Do yourself a favor and visit the store as early as you can when they open (before the returns desk have been bombarded with people all day) and bring a really friendly and cheery attitude with you.


  • Of course, there are items that aren’t great for YOU, but will have value to lots of other people. You can try to list items on craigslist, ebay, Amazon, your local Facebook online yard sale site, etc. There will be lots of people willing to spend some money after the holidays to get something they really wanted. You may not make top dollar on the item, but you will get an unwanted item out of your home, and some cash in your pocket.

  • Clothing, especially for current season, might do well if you go directly to a consignment shop. Some stores only take items during a certain window, so you may have to hold on to off-season items until they’re ready for them. You may also want to try an online consignment shop like threadUP, which accepts children’s and women’s clothing.  They send you a package, you mail off your clothing, they send you payment that can either be used to shop at their online consignment shop, or paid to you via paypal.    My friend over at Stapler Confessions blogged about using it recently…  check out her post on it here.

  • New phone or tablet for Christmas? Sell the old one on Gazelle, which quotes you a cash value for your older items and an easy process to send in your item.

  • Gift Cards:  You can SELL them!  Use a service like Card Pool  or Gift Card Granny to help turn your unwanted gift cards into cash… or into other WANTED gift cards.


  • Trade-ins can be formal or informal.  Amazon is a great example of a formal trade-in program.  You can take many items (books, music, video games, electronics, etc.) and look up the item on the  Amazon Trade-In shop, and identify the “Trade In” price. Some items will obviously be more valuable than others, so evaluate what you think you can get for a trade in vs. selling in some other method.  But, again, for duplicates of items, or “grandma thought I had an Xbox but I really have a PS3” items, it’s a nice way to get some value out of it, EVEN if it wasn’t bought from Amazon.

  • A great informal approach is to do a swap party with some friends.  Get some friends you trust (and make sure you go through your gifts to make sure none are from that circle!) and host a January party, but send out the email letting them know now.  Something like, “Going through your gifts and finding some you don’t really want to make a home for in your house?  Let’s get together and see if we can swap some treasure. Bring new clothing, household goods, etc. and let’s see if we can give some of these items a more loved home out there!”


  • Donation of new items is always going to have value, and being able to share items that just don’t work for you will almost certainly work for others in need.

  • Freecycle or Craigslist Free items listing are great ways to let go of items quickly, if you’re not set on donating to a charity and you don’t even have to leave your house to do it. Again, your discards may be someone else’s treasure.

  • And, don’t forget… you probably got some great stuff that lets you REPLACE some older things… (one sweater in, one sweater out?) Start building your first donation pile of 2014 right now!




  1. Rebecca Stapler

    Thanks for the link, Kathy! Just yesterday I requested another bag for more clothes donations 🙂
    I have also already returned some items, for a store credit. Hopefully my husband doesn’t mind!

  2. Robert Wilson

    Great topic raise. About the gift cards you can exchange it in to cash at Card Pool, Gift Card Granny and Gift Card Spread etc.


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