What To Do With Unwanted Gifts After The Holidays

The holidays have come and gone, and in addition to eggnog-induced lethargy, a depleted bank account, and an overdose of family time from which you'll need a few solid months to recover, you find yourself with a load of new objects that were gifted to you with good intentions. If for any reason you did not receive only things meaningful or purposeful to your life, with just the right place to inhabit the prime real estate that is space in your small apartment, here's what to do with unwanted gifts.

Yes, it's sad to dispose of or do away with things your friends and loved ones put time and effort into getting for you. But what's worse is shoving said things under your bed, or in your closet (if you have one — lucky you), and letting them completely expire in purpose and want and toss them three years later when their existence is completely useless. Don't hold onto items out of guilt. Unless it's personalized or something an elder family member is passing down, you can pretty much assume a store-bought item was intended to make you happy and serve a use in your life. If it's redundant with something you already own, or you know it's going to sit on the shelf until one day you throw it out, do the right thing and free yourself of it now, while you can still cash in to get something you really do need, and someone else elsewhere might still find use with it.

1. Return or exchange

If you're able to, your best option is returning unwanted gifts. The effort is relatively minimal — all it takes is a visit to the store — plus, you'll get the full return value, which can't be said if you end up reselling. With most items, stores will take back merchandise as long as they're unopened or still have the tag. If you didn't get a gift receipt, there is still hope for returning merchandise if you do so as soon as possible after Christmas. Stores tend to be more lenient with their return policies during the holidays, because they're expecting an onslaught of gift returns. If what you're returning is sold at multiple stores, look up store return policies beforehand and try your luck at the one with the best return policy.

Oftentimes, you'll have to settle for store credit when returning gifts. Hopefully it will be a store where you actually want to shop, but whatever you do, create a method for holding on to your gift cards. The worst is successfully returning unwanted merchandise, only to end up misplacing or forgetting about your store credit down the road. When you receive credit in the store, don't feel pressured to spend it right away. You may feel like you just got free money, but control your urges to spend it right then and there. While still in store, we're likely to make impulse purchases and instead of clearing out, you're just stocking up on more things you don't really want or need. And as always, remember to be courteous when seeking to return or exchange. While some policies are set in stone, it's often at the discretion of the person at the cash wrap. Retail workers are dealing with extra hours and whole lot of extra stress over the holidays, and a little kindness can go a long way.

2. Resell online

If you're not able to return or exchange your unwanted gifts, there are plenty of options for reselling online. This option is also great if you received the perfect gift that replaces something you no longer have a need for, like an older generation tablet or phone. Again, your best bet is doing this as soon as possible after the holidays, while merchandise is still relevant. Also, if you create your posting right after Christmas, you'll be capitalizing on post-holiday purchases by people who also didn't get exactly what they wanted.

eBay is making it even easier to resell your items during Boxing Weekend on Dec. 26 and 27. Its eBay Valet service, which takes all the work out of listing your merchandise, will be free these days. All you have to do is print out the shipping label and mail in your unwanted gifts, and a professional seller will take care of the rest — determining the price, taking photos, listing the item, and safely shipping it to the ultimate buyer. Not only that, but sellers who print the label over Boxing Weekend will keep 100 percent of the profits (versus the usual 80 percent) once their items are sold. eBay will also be hosting full-service pop-up selling stations at Westfield shopping centers across America to "send them back to the North Pole" right there as well as drop boxes if you've already printed the eBay Valet shipping label.

Other alternatives include sites that specialize in reselling specific items. Some examples are StubHub for event tickets you're gifted that conflict with your plans, Gift Card Granny for any gift cards you don't plan on ever using, NextWorth for electronics, Poshmark for clothes that might be redundant with what you just received, or The RealReal for any luxury items you'd rather trade in for numbers in your bank account.

3. Donate

If you want to get rid of something but can't return, exchange, or resell it, or perhaps want to do something for the greater good, go ahead and donate. Look up local donation facilities in your community to have the greatest impact. Churches, hospitals, and schools often run charities. Also try to choose charities based on what they need. If you're getting rid of redundant electronics, donate to a charity like World Computer Exchange that seeks to provide technology to schools, universities, and communities in developing countries. If you're downsizing your wardrobe and streamlining your work wear, Dress For Success provides interview apparel and career development to low-income women in over 75 cities worldwide. Many organizations provide tax deductions for charitable contributions, but more importantly, you'll know your act of minimizing will have a positive impact that goes beyond the additional space you'll enjoy in your apartment.

Looking for more holiday cheer? Check out Bustle on YouTube.

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