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What to do with unwanted gifts instead of shoving them in a drawer

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Don't stick your unwanted Christmas gifts in the cupboard or the bin.

Australians spent around $400 million on unwanted Christmas presents last year and top of the list are novelty items, voted unpopular by 51% of Australians, followed by candles (40%), then pamper products (40%), pyjamas or slippers (35%) and underwear or socks (32%).

Unwanted gifts make up around 7% of the total $5.8 billion that Australians spend each year on festive season gifts, buying an average of 5.5 gifts, costing around $54.40 each. Why not unlock some of that money?

what to do with unwanted gifts

Here are six things you can do with them - just remember to keep your unwanted gifts in good condition. Don't pull off the price tag label if it is still attached. It is best if you want to return it or sell it online.

1. Return them to the shop. Get something you prefer. While some gift givers will include a gift receipt to make returns easy, others don't. Can you gently ask the gift giver without offending them for the receipt? Some retailers are sympathetic and will give you a credit note or even your money back. It is always worth a try. If the gift was bought online or at a sale, there can be certain conditions of the purchase.

2. Give them to charity. New clothes, household items and other new goods are always in demand. The money raised goes to people in need. Even new, unwanted toiletries and cosmetics can be donated to charities such as The Beauty Bank or Every Little Bit Helps.

3. Sell them online. There are a number of free online marketplaces such as Gumtree, your local Buy Swap Sell and Facebook Marketplace.

4. Keep them in your gift drawer and regift them. Just be careful not to give the gift back to the person who gave it to you. Stick a note on the gift if you're worried you will forget.

5. Repurpose your gift. Can you transform your present with some creativity? Put a plant in the pot you can't stand. Or paint it your favourite colour?

6. Swap your gift. Either through one of the online swapping websites or get together with friends who love to swap clothes and other goods.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.
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