How to Recycle Your Christmas Unwanted Gifts

Last updated: December 10th, 2020 Published on: December 19, 2019

Not quite your taste, or not something you’ll wear… Christmas gifts can be difficult for anyone to get right – even if you’re highly organised and sent your list to help Santa for ideas! But wait… don’t just bin them! Nowadays there’s a lot of options for you to recycle or reuse them.

Whether you’re a strong advocate of local growth, a circular economy, recycling, or just would like to make profit out of your own presents – we’ve gathered a few ideas for you to dispose of all your unwanted gifts.

1. Resell Them

First and foremost: make profit on them! It’s so easy to advertise anything nowadays on Ebay, Ebid, Gumtree or Facebook – all you need to do is create an account, and spend a few minutes writing a relevant description and upload a few snaps.

Also, if you have been gifted clothes whether they’re expensive brands or not – there’s a few new cool apps you can download and try out such as: Vinted (for vintage clothes), ThredUp, Poshmark, TheRealReal, Grailed (for Men’s clothing) or Depop.

However, if you’re not confident with online advertising, simply store them in the garage, or somewhere easy to load in your car for the next car boot sale that’s close to you.

You can also trade your gifts for cash using a few online retailers trade-in schemes for gaming goods, phones and tablets such as GAME Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone, Three and O2.

2. Re-gift Them for Other Occasions

You might not be a fan, but regifting can save you a lot of time and effort in the future! Just make sure you’ve written down the name of the person who gifted it to you somewhere – to avoid gifting it back to them ;).

Whether you have space under the bed or just put them in a huge cardboard box, to store them all in the same place, it’s a great idea to keep a nest of gifts, ready to give!

3. Trade Them with Family or Friends

A simple one, but definitely worth doing if possible! Let’s imagine your dad gifted you a set of miniature cacti (thinking you would love it) when it turns out to be your sister who is THE cactus lover of the family.

Have a laugh, call him out on it, and exchange it with your sister! You can exchange pretty much anything with anyone who might be interested to swap their gift with you! Just make sure you do it discreetly, so not to hurt anyone’s feelings…

4. Donate Them to Charities, Refuges, Shelters

Maybe one of the easiest and kindest options is your local charity shop or nearest homeless shelter. After all, reused items are always better than recycling, plus it’s for a great cause as the money goes towards the charity funds and actions, or the refugees in need!

Check their websites to find the list of items which can’t be donated. For example, things like electric fires, medication, bicycles, and prescription glasses can’t be resold by some charities, and things like make up products can’t be given to any refuge for hygienic matters. Also, beware that donations to women and children’s refugees are typically sent to a general PO Box address to keep the address secret and protected.

Another option is to hand your gifts to your local homeless people or your local homeless shelter. If you’ve been gifted with socks, hats, scarves, oversized jumpers, or blankets that aren’t your style, they’ll be much appreciated and keep them warm for the cold winter months.

Finally, one last option is to donate your kids’ games or toys to local Children’s wards or hospices if they accept donations. Most should gladly accept anything you have to offer.

5. Donate Books to Your Local Library or Kids’ Schools

If they are classic books, magazines, colouring books or anything your local library can have, or which could be useful to your kids’ schools – why not giving them a ring to find out whether it could be something of interest? Lots of libraries and schools will be super glad of unwanted gifts as it will offer new reading material!

6. Use Brand’s Recycling Programmes

Plenty of cosmetic brands such as MAC, Kiehl’s, Origins, or L’Occitane run schemes for recycling their beauty products and packaging. Other brands like The North Face, H&M, Zara or Levi’s also have textile recycling programmes to keep your clothes out of landfills.

Another great organisation which recycles almost anything for a lot of different brands is TerraCycle. Check their website to find your nearest drop-off locations for any of waste you might have.

7. Exchange Your Gift Cards For Cash

If you’ve been given a gift card from a place you don’t generally shop in, don’t like, or for services you don’t use, you’ll find a variety of websites which can buy them from you. For example, try Cardpool or Card kangaroo to get up to 92% of their original value.

8. Return or Exchange To the Shops

Our final suggestion is simply return your item! Maybe explain to your friend or family member you would rather exchange or return it. It’s quite simple, if you don’t like it, just say the size is wrong, the colour isn’t right, or you already have it.

Another idea is to agree a rule that everyone should include a return/exchange receipt of each item within their gifts to provide everyone the freedom to do their own thing with their presents.