3 Things To Do With Holiday Gifts You Just Don’t Want

Woman with Santa hat wrapping presents.

Image source: Getty Images

There’s no need to keep those items around to collect dust.


Key points

  • It is common to receive gifts during the holidays that are not of much use to you.
  • You don’t have to put up with cluttered closets when there are ways to make the most of those items.

Many people place great emphasis on gift giving during the holiday season, so much so that they are willing to run up credit card debt when they buy them and are generous. And if you received a series of Christmas gifts last December, then you should be thankful that so many people have been kind enough to think of you.

But some of the gifts you received may have failed. Maybe your aunt gave you a beautiful wool sweater, only that’s a material that your skin can’t stand. Or maybe they gave her a box of gourmet chocolates, only she’s trying to cut out dairy.

Situations like these can be frustrating. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with holiday gifts you don’t want or can’t take advantage of. Here are some options to look at that don’t mean resigning yourself to a closet full of unwanted stuff.

1. Sell your gifts to willing buyers

Maybe you can’t bear the thought of a wool sweater rubbing against your cleavage. But someone else might be eager to buy an item like that at a discount. That’s why it’s worth taking an inventory of unwanted gifts and trying to find buyers for them.

In many cases, you won’t get anywhere near the initial value of those items, and you may have to be okay with that. In the case of our wonderful wool sweater, chances are your aunt spent $50 at a department store and now you’re thinking of getting $15 if you’re lucky.

But hey, that’s $15 you didn’t have before. And a $50 sweater sitting in your closet unworn isn’t going to give you $15 or $50 of value, it’s going to give you $0 of value. So try not to dwell on the fact that you are “taking a hit” in the value of your gifts. Instead, remember that you are earning cash that you can use for many different purposes.

2. Use them to improve the lives of your friends

Perhaps you’ve given up dairy, either as a permanent thing or in conjunction with a New Year’s resolution you made to improve your diet. Either way, if you have a friend who loves chocolate, make their day by handing them that box of gourmet candy you don’t want to be tempted with.

It’s really a win-win. That box of goodies won’t make fun of you, and your friend will be able to enjoy some goodies that they may not be in a position to afford to buy for themselves.

3. Donate them to charity

Food can be difficult to donate to charity (although it’s always worth checking with your local food pantry, just in case). But if you have unwanted holiday gifts that aren’t food, donating them is almost always an option.

Not only is it a nice thing to do, but it could serve as a tax deduction. If you itemize on your tax return, you can take a deduction for non-cash charitable contributions as well as cash donations. The only thing to keep in mind is that you can only deduct the fair market value of the property you are donating.

But if you’re donating gifts shortly after receiving them, and they’ve never been used, then you can get away with deducting their full value (or, put another way, their fair market value may be their full value). Ultimately, it’s best to consult with a tax professional, but know that you have options.

Unwanted holiday gifts don’t have to take up valuable cabinet space. Instead, do something with them that will make you feel good or improve your financial situation.

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