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Turn your unwanted gifts into something valuable this Christmas


A woman sits wearing a party hat after a party. She looks sad and holds her head in her hands.

'Tis the season for donating or re-gifting - thoughtfully.

Sometimes even the most well-intentioned Christmas gifts just don't quite hit the mark. But that shouldn't mean that you're stuck with them into the New Year.

With retailers becoming more and more flexible with their returns policies, consumers now have options when it comes to rectifying their loved ones' festive faux pas.

So, if you're wondering what to do with your fourth tea towel set from your third cousin, or your annual Kris Kringle candle, have a look at these tips to turn your unwanted pressies into something you'll love.

Retailers and returns

Gone are the days of strict returns policies that required a faulty diagnosis to get your refund or exchange. Retailers are relaxing their policies in an ongoing effort to make the process easier for consumers. Happy customers lead to loyalty, after all. And, as a result, we are now seeing more retailers offering "change-of-mind" return policies.

This is great news for recipients of unwanted gifts who, in many cases, can either refund or exchange their pressies for something they really want, provided they have a receipt.

"But I don't have a receipt," you may say. Well, not to worry, there are options available depending on the retailer. Some stores will offer exchanges on unwanted Christmas gifts without a receipt, but be aware that if your gift has been discounted since it was purchased, you will often only be eligible to receive the current value of the item.

Something else to consider is the time period of your return because often, returns policies will carry a time limit on when you can bring back your goods. Some retailers will offer extended returns over Christmas, so it's definitely worth looking into it if you're not sure if you'll make the cutoff.

Gift cards

Many of us are probably guilty of having an unused gift card hiding in the depths of our wallet. In fact, research by Finder estimates Aussies are sitting on around $835 million in unused gift cards in total. The question is, what do you do when you find one?

As of 1 November 2019, most gift cards issued on or after this date are legally required to carry a minimum 3-year expiry date. So don't feel pressured to spend your gift card straight away. However, this does not apply to gift cards bought prior to this. Always check the date of issue and find out the relevant retailer's policy.


Although often considered the cardinal sin of gift-giving, regifting can actually be a great way to repurpose double-ups or pass on unwanted gifts to someone who might love them. Surprisingly, it's expected that around 2.1 million presents under Aussie trees this year will have been regifted.

In saying that, there are certain ways to go about this delicate operation. Here are a few dos and don'ts of regifting.


Remove personal tags. This might seem like an obvious one, but forgetting to remove cards or gift tags is a major way to unravel your regifting plans and take your present from thoughtful to thoughtless in a matter of seconds.

Only regift brand new items. Just because this gift wasn't at the top of your wishlist, doesn't mean it wasn't for someone else. However, it's important to remember that it is still a gift, so used or opened items are a no-go.


Regift to someone who knows the original giver. Nobody wants to hear that their present has been regifted, so distancing your giver and recipient as much as possible is a great idea. Make sure you never regift within the same circles and make a mental note of who you're giving what, to avoid any slip-ups in conversation.

Regift anything meaningful or handmade. Not only can this cause a bit of trouble if you get asked to "Knit another jumper like the one you made me for Christmas!", but should your original giver find out, it can be super hurtful. In the spirit of Christmas, my advice for this one would be – it's the thought that counts.

Donating to charity

Last but certainly not least, there are a number of families in Australia who will be going without this Christmas, so donating any unwanted items is a great option to consider.

There are loads of incredible organisations out there collecting all year round, such as The Smith Family, The Salvation Army, and Vinnies to name a few. The feeling of helping others at such a special time of year can often be worth more than anything you might find under your tree.

Unwanted gifts can feel like a bit of a burden when deciding what to do with them, so knowing that there are options available to you can remove a bit of that post-festivities stress. Remember to consider all alternatives to find the best home for your unwanted gifts this Christmas.

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