What to Do with Unwanted Gifts

Not all presents are hits

In a recent Consumer Reports poll, 20 percent of adults admit they received a gift they didn't want last year. That's about 49 million unhappy gift recipients. Given this startling number, chances are you'll get an underwhelming present (or two) this holiday season. But that doesn't mean you're stuck with the duds. Following are your best options for parlaying your bummer gifts into bonuses.

Return It
And by return, we mean to the retailer, not the giver. Hopefully you'll find a gift receipt taped to the box or at the bottom of the gift bag. If this is the case, you'll most likely get store credit for the full purchase price of the gift. And while most stores accept returned merchandise without a receipt during the holidays, you'll only get credit for the current sales price-which is likely much lower if it's post-Christmas. But it's better than an ugly brown sweater you'll never wear, right?

Donate It
One man's garbage is another man's treasure. It's true: the absolutely awful lamp your aunt got you might be the crowning piece in someone else's living room. Drop the lamp off at your local thrift store or consignment shop. You just might make someone else's holiday dreams come true-and get a tax write-off to boot!

Re-Gift It
The black scarf you got from your coworker isn't ugly-you just already have two other black scarves and simply don't need (or want) a third. This is a perfect time to re-gift! Your mom would love a black scarf! Already got her something? Then give it to the landlord, the nanny or your sister-in-law.

Sell It
Yes, you read that correctly. In this day and age, it's totally acceptable to post it on Craigslist or eBay and get some cash. (Though it's not so acceptable to tell the gift-giver you did so.) Then, treat yourself to something you'll like and use.

Swap It
Host a post-holiday Unwanted Gifts Party! Given how many people get gifts they don't want each year, wouldn't it be fun to host a party where people get to swap them? Make it casual and fun: serve beer and wine and have people come over in the sweats. It'll be the best non-holiday holiday party of the season!

Store It
Some gifts, though not great, mean a lot to the gift-giver-especially sentimental gifts. These are gifts that will make the giver feel great if they see you using it later. If you get a few of these (think framed pictures, figurines, sweater, or jewelry), store them in a box marked with the givers name and take them out for show when you the gift giver comes over at a future date. So long as the items don't take up much precious storage space, your thoughtfulness will be the gift that keeps giving.


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