5 Ways To Ditch Gifts You Don't Want Without Hard Feelings

Photographed by Nicole Maroon.
Although it runs counter to the spirit of the season, exchanging gifts during the holidays can be anxiety inducing. Unless a recipient has told you exactly what they want, or you've set ground rules for how things will go (i.e., no purchases over x amount, or only one gift per person), there is always a certain amount of doubt.
Chances are, if you have received a gift you weren't wild about, you've given out a dud, too. Don't settle for disappointment — or making the giver feel bad. Instead, we've outlined 5 ways you can redeem the situation in other ways.
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If You Get A Gift Card

Sell it! People often buy gift cards out of fear that gifting something more specific will go awry. But if the card you get is to a retailer that isn't your taste, you can still get cash for it.

Sites like Raise.com are great platforms for buying and selling gift cards. On Raise, you can search for the card retailer to get an idea of how in-demand your item is. You'll also get a ballpark figure of how much money you would make after your sale. Like eBay, these websites take a small cut of each sale, meaning you won't get 100% of the card's value. (Though your chances of getting more money will be better if you sell hot-ticket items during big shopping seasons.)

Make sure to list your card on a trustworthy site that offers some buyer and seller assurances, like receiving your money through PayPal for example. Check out R29's primer on selling gift cards.
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If You Want To Be Charitable

There are numerous ways to make a donation, whether at a local clothing drive, through larger charitable organizations, or at vintage and secondhand stores. Housing Works, a nonprofit based in New York City, uses its funds to combat homelessness and HIV/AIDS, and also supports marginalized groups. They accept home goods and furniture, clothing, books, and more — so you don't only have to stick to clothes at all secondhand shops.

If you want to get a little cash back for your donation, these stores will ask if you want to receive store credit or a receipt. (The latter can be used for tax purposes.)
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If You Have The Receipt

When you buy an item in-store, many cashiers will give you a separate receipt if you tell them the purchase is a gift. That receipt won't show the cost of the item, but it will make it possible for the gift recipient to get a refund or make an exchange without the buyer's receipt or credit card.

If you go this route with a gift you get, you'll be able to learn the value of the item at the store. Some stores have policies noting that exchanges or refunds won't be granted the same day the item was purchased. So, leave a 24-hour window just in case the buyer made a last-minute effort.

Don't wait too long, though, as the window for returns and exchanges varies widely by retailer. Some grant 15 days, others 30, and other a few months. Finally, go with ID and do not lose the gift receipt (or original receipt). "Some retailers won’t accept a return without a receipt. Others will only give you a store credit for the lowest price that item sold for recently, not what the gift-giver paid for it," NBC News warns. "It’s important to remember that returns and exchanges are a courtesy. Except for damaged merchandise, a store is not required to take something back. And while many states require that return policy to be posted, the store gets to set the rules."

Consumer Reports has a list of stores that are "best in the business" or "tough on customers" when it comes to making returns. They also include tips for what to do — like not removing tags or opening a boxes in some cases.
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If Your Friends Have Different Tastes

Host a post-holiday clothing swap! Maybe you like your gift but it came in the wrong size, and you don't want to go through the rigamarole of an exchange. Perhaps you know they always get an abundance of bomb things they'll never wear, and they're open to opening their closets. Or maybe you just want to chill together and make a party out of going through each others' things.

Decide who'll bring the beverages, who'll bring the snacks, what tunes you'll play, and lay everything out.
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If You Want To Make Money

There are many places to sell unwanted items online, from thredUp (if you're not looking for a big payday but want to clean house), to The Real Real (if you have high-end items), to eBay (if you're a pro), and Poshmark (for beauty and trendy threads). Craigslist, Letgo, and Facebook Marketplace are options if you want to stay local.

There's also a whole world of option for vintage items and antiques, to makeup, kitchenware, and home décor. Check out our list of places to sell your stuff online for cash.

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