What to do with those unwanted gifts


Christmas is over, the bells have rung, and you’re likely back to work. The festivities are done for another year – but one thing remains. That pile of unwanted Christmas presents next to the tree. From plaid shirts, festive undies, socks, ties, funny smelling aftershave, knock-off perfume to the ceramic dog that is looking at you with its dead eyes no matter what part of the room you are in.

New research has shown Christmas spending on presents is up 33% on the previous year with family and friends spending a whopping €700 on presents this year.

But the problem is that many of the gifts will be in the ‘unwanted’ pile. Clothing, shoes and accessories are the most returned Christmas gifts due to improper sizing, style preferences and brand affiliation all contributing to the high return rate of these gifts.

According to Which magazine the most ‘out there’ gifts, including used deodorant, rubber gloves and out-of-date chocolates, have been named as some of the worst gifts that readers found under the Christmas tree. Other unwanted gifts included an advent calendar on Christmas day, a book about the wrong football team, and more than €100 of dairy chocolate despite the recipient being lactose intolerance!

However, there can be a monetary value in all these gifts if handled properly especially at this time of year when every cent counts.

Switcher.ie, the impartial quick and easy comparison website, have the following top tips in dealing with unwanted gifts.

Ask the shop for a refund or an exchange if you have

a gift receipt. They can only say no! They are not legally required to give you one but some shops will accept your return and provide a refund, exchange or credit note as a gesture of goodwill.

Ask the person who gave you the gift if it was bought online as an online shopper is entitled to a 14-day cooling off period because they can’t view before paying.

What if the gift is faulty? Although you don’t have the same legal rights as the person who bought the gift, if it is not fit for purpose or faulty, and if you have the receipt, you should be able to get an exchange or refund.

Sell the gift. If you cannot get a refund or exchange your gift, consider selling it online on sites like Done deal, Adverts or Amazon to name a few.

Re-gift. Consider keeping the unwanted gifts for upcoming birthdays or special occasions, next Christmas even!  You never know, it might save you spending on something new. Or donate the gift to a local charity, school, or community group. Before donating, see first if they will accept your gift.

Join a ‘swapsie group’ as one person’s junk is another’s treasure. Some apps, like Nuw, allow you to swap or lend your like-new clothes. You could also organise or attend a swap-shop event, or just organise one with your own friends and family.

Eoin Clarke, commercial director of Switcher.ie, says, that with so many of us scrambling to cut corners this year, it’s important to avoid waste at all costs. Even if something is gifted, you should always try for a refund or exchange and some shops might accommodate you as a gesture of goodwill.

“If you’re comfortable asking the gift giver, find out if the gift was bought online, as they may have extra refund rights. Selling online or regifting are other ways to save money and reduce waste, while donating to charities and schools helps support local communities,”  he says.


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