What to do with unwanted Christmas gifts

Holly Thomas / 27 December 2013

If you have things to sell as part of a New Year clear-out, or perhaps you're offloading unwanted Christmas presents to make a few extra pounds, then there are a number of options open to you.

Thousands of people rushed to offload unwanted Christmas presents online almost as soon they received them last year.

More than 200,000 items were estimated to have been listed on eBay, the auction website, over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Another website, musicmagpie.co.uk, where CDs, DVDs and video games can be traded in, also saw a record number of items posted on Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year.

Not everyone gets it right and each year we are increasingly selling unwanted gifts rather than clog up drawers and cupboards.

If you have a bunch of things to sell – even if it’s part of a New Year clear out rather than a cull of your naff Christmas presents – then there are a number of ways to do so.

Using eBay is hugely popular because it doesn’t require too much effort or cost. While there is a knack to selling successfully on eBay, it’s not rocket science. The more details you include, the more interest you will get from buyers. Adding good quality pictures will attract more people to bid.

Search for the item you’re selling and get ideas for how to present it.

You should also check out eBay's safety centre if you’re new to the site. It contains a huge amount of information to help you sell safely.

To receive payments you will need to set up a Paypal account which is reasonably straightforward.

eBay will charge an “insertion fee” for listings (up to a maximum of £1.30), and a “final-value fee” of 10% of the sale price, capped at £40. Paypal charge sellers a fee of between 1.4% and 3.4% on the total sale amount plus a 20p per transaction.

Amazon Marketplace allows you to sell second-hand and new versions of an item already sold on its main site.

Musicmagpie will buy your CDs, DVDs and video games for cash. You have to sell a minimum of 10 items at a time.

Your rights for returns

If you get a gift that you would like to exchange or get a refund on, rather than sell, you will need to know your rights. Although retailers aren't legally obliged to refund you on purchases that aren’t faulty, most do so as a gesture of goodwill.

Wherever you go, having a receipt to hand will make it much easier to get a refund or exchange, although some shops will also allow it without one.

Even if the item was bought in the sale, you can still get a refund. Your rights when purchasing sale goods are exactly that same as when purchasing anything else.

Many shops are more lenient after Christmas and will give you extra time in which to bring something back or exchange it. Always check the time limit allowed for returns as they vary considerably.

John Lewis has no set time limit for the return of unsuitable products, which is its policy all year round, although it requires a receipt or proof of purchase. Others will extend the dates to the end of January to give you time to return – and ease the queues at tills on Boxing Day.

Some small shops may not be able to afford such goodwill gestures so get in touch to check their policy to avoid missing the cut off date.

If something was bought online there is only a standard seven-day cooling off period from when the item was purchased to get a refund. But check with the website to see if you can exchange it, if it’s something you really can’t live with.

Many online retailers will offer you something in return, but will typically expect you to pay for the return postage when you send the item back.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.