How to Unload Unwanted Holiday Gifts for Something Better (Like Cash)


An ugly Christmas sweater (gifted unironically). Too-tight tennis shoes. A cat unicorn shower curtain. It may be the thought that counts, but sometimes we end up with holiday gifts that really miss the mark.

I happen to be a shameless regifter, especially when my daughters receive toys they already have. Turning one kid’s trash into another’s treasure is a great savings hack when you attend three birthday parties a month. But regifting in adult circles? Not so easy.

There are some ways to offload the surplus though without offending your friends.

1. Exchange it (ASAP) for store credit.

You’ll get the most bang for your buck by returning an unwanted gift for store credit. If you don't have a gift receipt, try and do it within 15 days of getting it. Any store is likely going to honor a return during that time, assuming the gift was purchased recently, says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge. If it wasn’t, or you wait too long, you could be told no—or have to settle for store credit equal to a clearance price.

And make sure to hang onto any tags. Bodge says most retailers only require that you have them, not that they’re attached. 

2. Sell them online.

If exchanging the item doesn’t work, reselling online is your second-best bet. "The process is easy: Just register for an account, take some pictures, set a price, deadline and a few other selling options, then wait for buyers to inquire,” says Stephen Gibson, a marketing pro in San Francisco, who netted $35 from reselling San Francisco Giants bobbleheads he’d been gifted earlier this year. "You get your money right away.”

Check out Poshmark for reselling clothing and accessories. For tech and electronics, try Decluttr. For gift cards to stores you don’t frequent, you can recoup most of the value by listing it on sites like Gift Card Granny and Raise, says Michelle Madhok, founder of the deals site shefinds.com. (According to WalletHub, Netflix, Best Buy, Walmart and the Apple Store gift cards have the highest resale values.)

3. Host a swap party.

No luck getting strangers to pay you for your gifts? Jacquelyn Ottman, a Manhattan-based green marketing expert, swaps with her friends.

"I used to be one of those people who had a bag of unwanted gifts that sat in my closet all year long," says Ottman, who began throwing regift parties a few years ago. "As long as it meets someone's needs, who cares where it came from?" The first time she coordinated a regifting coffee date, she offloaded a frame she didn't want and snagged a Japanese print for herself. (Just be careful not to regift something given to you by one of the attendees, of course.)