How To Recycle Christmas Gifts: the Mistakes You Shouldn't Make

"A diamond is forever," goes the advertisement. A bad gift, however, is not forever but, on the contrary, you hope to get rid of it as soon as possible.

A not appreciated gift

If you didn't get a diamond as a gift, then, don't despair: there is a way to recycle Christmas gifts and to do it in the open.

Until a few years ago, selling a gift or giving it to someone else could be considered an offense against the donor, but today, perhaps thanks to the ecological wave and the trend towards recycling and reuse, this social stigma has almost completely disappeared.

Of course, maybe for those who have given you that delicious (delicious for her/him) useless object will not be pleasant to know that you got rid of it, but maybe it will help him/her to adjust the pitch for a possible next gift.

Where to recycle Christmas gifts

When the Internet didn't exist yet, it was a big problem to give someone else a gift we didn't like.

But we're talking about a long time ago, a time when recycling gifts was still viewed with suspicion.

Today, however, there are many ways to reuse a gift, both online and in dedicated thrift stores.

One thing you should never do (or always keep it as a last option anyway): throw away the unwanted gift.

True, this would relieve us from the task of finding a new home for it and the risk of being discovered, but throwing away something that someone else might like/serve anyway, is really a waste that you shouldn't be able to afford.

Recycle Christmas gifts online

Between Christmas and the end of the holidays there are a few days in which you can dedicate yourself to placing your unwanted gift online so that millions of potential buyers can find it and take it home.

The best marketplace, for casual sellers, remains eBay, where you can list your item, set the price, and illustrate its features, complete with photos.

All this makes sense if you are thinking of recycling a gift that has a minimum of value, selling a pair of socks to which you must add the shipping costs, and the burden of where to go to the Post Office, etc., could be not very convenient.

When you open an account on eBay, perhaps avoid putting your name and your email, to exclude the possibility of being discovered by the person who made you the gift.

Take good photos of the item you want to sell, set a fair price and wait for someone to show interest.

Resell unwanted gifts in flea markets

The alternative to selling online is to take the gift to be recycled to one of the many stores that resell used items.

You take the object there, you decide the price, and the person in charge of the market keeps it on display for a certain number of days. In case of sale he keeps a percentage, not even that small.

In these flea markets, more money is earned by those who buy than by those who sell, but if the alternative is to throw away the gift, you might as well earn a little.

Returning Christmas gifts to the store

Shopkeepers are well aware of the phenomenon of unwanted gifts, which is why, especially in the case of clothing, they make themselves available to exchange the item or replace it with a voucher to spend in the same store.

In the absence of a receipt, however, the store is unlikely to take the item back, and equally unlikely is the person who gave you the item included the receipt in the package.

In all cases, when you want to resell an unwanted gift, be sure you have kept the original packaging, left the labels in place and any warranties, in the case of appliances, smartphones, tablets, etc.

The rules for recycling Christmas gifts properly

just the gift i wanted

There are some tricks that we must keep in mind when we want to recycle a gift, rules of common sense and good taste that will avoid bad figures and really embarrassing situations.

1. The gift should be meaningful.

Don't recycle something for the sake of recycling it. If you didn't like the gift, chances are the new beneficiary won't either. This is a truism, but you need to keep it in mind.

2. Remove the gift tag!

When you decide to retrieve the scarf your grandmother gave you for Christmas last year, be sure to remove the old gift tag from the bag or box, as well as any greeting card.

3. Don't recycle gifts you've received from people important to you.

True, there are some really bad gifts, but they aren't always given out of a lack of care for us. Sometimes the person who gave us the gift really believes it might be to our liking, and if that person is important to us we avoid hurting them by recycling their gift.

4. Don't recycle family gifts.

This should be obvious, but I'll say it anyway: don't give away family heirlooms.

For example: your mom gave you your grandmother's ornate brooch last month, a brooch your mom was sentimentally attached to.

You know you'll never wear it, but you have a friend who loves vintage items and would love it.

However, don't give away what has traditionally belonged to your family, maybe go to a store where you can find vintage items and buy something appropriate for your friend.

5. Avoid recycling gifts in the same circle of friends.

If you recycle a Christmas gift, don't give it to someone who knows the giver.

If the person who gave it to you finds it in someone else's house, they will feel hurt and you will look bad.

6. Beware of recycling gifts of which you do not remember the origin

If an item has been in your "closet" for a couple of years, you may not remember where it came from.

That's why it's always a good idea to write a note to keep along with the object, so you can remember who gave you what.

Imagine if one day you found yourself giving an item to exactly whoever gave it to you long ago. That would be social death....

7. Recycle gifts in moderation.

Recycling an object is fine, if recycling gifts becomes your favorite pastime, however, the risk is that sooner or later you will hurt someone and look like a stingy and insensitive person.

8. Inspect the gift before you recycle it

Inspect everything: the box, the gift wrap, the packaging.

You don't know what may be hiding deep inside that box.

There may be a personal note to you or a second, smaller gift that you hadn't noticed at all.

9. Don't recycle handmade gifts

Even if you don't like the gift, respect the effort and time put in by the person who gave you the gift and don't recycle it with the first one that comes along.

Why recycle Christmas gifts (and more)

unwanted present

Someone wrote that when we give a gift we try to give not what the recipient likes, but what we like.

Of lesser value and quality, however, to avoid the regret of not having kept it for ourselves.

In short, in most cases, when we give something as a gift, we are far from empathizing with the tastes of the recipient and this ends up with a gift that (virtually) clashes with the recipient.

If the gift is not appreciated (or is appreciated only in words) do not take it, then.

On the contrary, let's try, for the next time, to find something that really corresponds to the needs and tastes of the recipient, not to ours.

"The rip-off," in short, is what our recipients might feel they have received.

There are dozens of reasons why we tend to get rid of a gift, and they are not always crap gifts, as Salvatore Russo defines them.

Those who do not have good taste, in general, will hardly have good taste in choosing gifts, however even gifts that are appreciated may, despite themselves, have to be recycled.

Let's think of a pair of shoes or an item of clothing of the wrong size, for example.

Perhaps these are also objects that are appreciated and appreciable but that, for reasons of force majeure, cannot be kept.

Hence the need for recycling of gifts, or "regifting" as they call it in English-speaking countries.

Understand if the gift is intended for recycling

It's not hard to tell if the gift we chose to give was not appreciated.

If we have a little awareness of human psychology and are not totally insensitive to the verbal and non-verbal signals of those around us, it will be easy to guess if our gift is destined to enter the secondary recycling market.

We may notice how, for example, the recipient's smile may seem forced or how, on the contrary, thanks and attitudes may be excessively and overtly emphatic (and therefore false).

Putting the gift away in a hurry to move on to the next one, or with the excuse of having to do something else, is also a clear indication that the gift may not have been particularly welcome.

In these cases, we avoid asking the recipient things like, "Do you like it?"

No one will (hopefully) ever tell us to our face that our gift sucks for them, but that doesn't mean we should assume they liked it.

Similarly, we avoid asking, when visiting the home of the person/s we gave a gift to, things like, "where did you put the gift I gave you last Christmas?"

If we don't see it anywhere, maybe we can put two and two together and guess that gift wasn't that much appreciated.

Let's put a pin in that and avoid, for us and our host, unpleasant embarrassments.

Recycled gifts: how to behave

Is there anything worse than receiving a bad gift?

Yes, receiving a bad gift recycled.

The gifts can be recycled but it must be done in the light of day (within certain limits) and, above all, do not sell them again as gifts.

We saw at the beginning how there are several ways to get rid of unappreciated gifts, but what you should never do is to give it to someone else in our turn.

It would be a really regrettable act of cunning that would make us fall well below the level of the one(s) who gave us that unwelcome gift.

So, if we want to give a gift that we don't need, let's do it on informal occasions, there are plenty of them, and certainly not at Easter or Christmas.

We try to put ourselves in a position where a person, potentially interested in an object that we do not appreciate, can give us the opportunity to give it to them.

But the recycling of gifts should not go through a wrapping paper and a bow twice: that would be really in bad taste.

It's the thought that counts

When it comes to gift giving, you often hear the phrase "it's the thought that counts".

Well, let me tell you something, behind a bad gift is hardly a good thought.

Having said that, we must also add that each of us has our own tastes and, again to quote another memorable phrase: "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

In short, there are many variables when making Christmas gifts, and not just at Christmas.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.