What to do with your unwanted Christmas presents - Shop NO Plastic

My biggest foe par was purchasing a bread maker for my husband for Christmas.  That was over 10 years ago and I can still remember the expression on his face.  It's been a standing joke ever since. Thankfully I had the receipt and was able to return it to the store for a full refund.  So what can you do with your unwanted Christmas presents?

1. Return or exchange your gifts

If there is a gift receipt in with the parcel, then you should be able to exchange the product.  Unfortunately a refund would normally go back on the buyers card so you may have to ask the purchaser for help.  


For online purchases, by law, the purchaser has 14 days after delivery to decide if they want to cancel an order, and then a further 14 days to send the item back. It is, of course, worth checking if the retailer has an extended Christmas returns policy.

Return Gift If it was bought in store, it will depend on the retailer’s own returns policy as the purchaser has no legal right to return goods unless they are faulty.

 2. Re-gifting

Is the scarf you got from your aunt more up your friend's street than yours?  Then why not re-gift it or arrange a mutual swap of unwanted Christmas gifts with friends or colleagues. For details on regifting etiquette, click here for more details.

3. Donate to Charity

If you can't exchange or re-gift, the most obvious action is to donate items to a charity shop so somebody else can enjoy your gift.

The Co-Op have put together a handy guide on what can\cannot be donated. They include:

  • electric fires
  • medication
  • objects that can be used as weapons
  • bicycles
  • prescription glasses
  • children's clothes with drawstring hoods

It is always advisable to check with your local charity shop that they are open and able to accept your donation. 

4. Donate to a refuge

 If you have been watching the Maid on Netflix, this will resonate.  A refuge encourage the donation of new underwear, PJs and clothing items as well as the basic toiletries products such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, shower gel, body lotion, deodorant. They also accept children's clothing and toys. Donate to Charity

 5. Donate clothes and blankets to the homeless 

Already got lots of hats, gloves, socks and scarfs.  Rather than throwing your gift in a cupboard never to see the light of day, donate to someone in need. Shelter stores will take clothes and other goods, while The Salvation Army has clothing banks where you can drop your unwanted possessions.

6. Donate toys to a children's hospital or hospice 

Most hospitals have strict hygiene policies, so any donations will need to be new.  The Great Ormond Street Hospital Play Team have put together a handy list of toys and games that would be gratefully received 


7. Unwanted books

Rather than leave them on the shelf never to be opened again, or worse, sending them to landfill, try posting them on Marketplace, your local Facebook Buy Nothing Group or taking them to your local library, school or playgroup.  

8. Recycle for good causes

Recycling For Good Causes is a company that works with a variety of charities to raise funds through the sale of donated goods. Items sent to them, or collected by them, are sold on through a network of commercial partners to generate the highest value. After taking a small commission, the proceeds of the sold or recycled items are then paid to the charity of the donor.