Written by: Dustin Limburg of Student Choice
Yahoo Finance just released a great video “Regift, reuse, recycle – How to trade overpriced and unwanted gadgets for better stuff” and it got me thinking. What to do with those holiday gifts that missed the mark?
Here are some thrifty ideas from the last few years that may just help you out:
Local toy closets, shelters and hospitals are always looking for help stocking there shelves, and you can feel good helping those in need this holiday season. In fact, local organizations like the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the US Military’s Fisher House offer families a home away from home while tending to sick children, family and wounded servicemen and women across the country at no charge to their guests. And, given the large number of families served, they’re always looking for common and uncommon items through donations and contributions. There are thousands of charitable organizations nationwide that will be glad to put your unwanted holiday items to good use. Check locally where you can make a difference.
It’s not too late for White Elephant.
No matter what you call this popular holiday game, “Holiday Thief,” “Stealing Santa,” “Yankee Swap,” and “Grinch Exchange,” there’s a good chance that, at some point, you’ve played it. The idea is simple, bring something you own but have no use for, wrap it and swap it. Variations often include stealing from your pals to get what you want, but the end result is usually pretty fun.
But, it’s not just for Christmas. This year, my family and friends are coming over for a New Year’s party and we’re going to do a white elephant as a fun way to pass the time until the ball drops. Get creative and you’ll find lot’s of different things you’re happy to wrap up and send home with a friend. Bonus tip – we’re asking everyone to bring an appetizer to split the costs…
Re-gift them next year.
Whether or not you were around to remember the popular Seinfeld bit “the regifter,” there’s nothing wrong with giving your unwanted gifts away to someone who will put them to good use (maybe just avoid giving them to the person that gave them to you). Although, we all know it’s the thought that counts, you can still wear a big smile knowing someone was thinking about you without letting something sit around without being used.
This is perfect for non-tech gifts, and items without a shelf life such as pre-packaged gift sets like grill accessories and those ever popular candles – often times received at holiday gift exchanges. Pack them up for next year and cut down your shopping time. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve done it and will probably do it again next year.
Give the gift of a receipt.
Whenever you give a gift, go ahead and include the gift receipt. Not only is this nice in case the gift doesn’t exactly hit the mark, but it’s great if it doesn’t fit (we’ve all received that sweater), the item just doesn’t work (I’ve returned a number of DVDs in my time), or you get duplicates because you told more than one person you wanted something. Gift receipts take the guess work out for the recipient and if the gift isn’t right, makes it easy for the recipient to exchange and find something they’ll enjoy.
As a side note – I’ve noticed more and more that large department stores don’t even require a receipt for exchanges. So if you have an idea where the gift is from (we all have our favorite stores after all), go ahead and visit the customer service counter and see if they can help you with a store credit. It’s worth a shot!
Bonus tip: Now is the time to get lots of great gifts for next year.
Shop the clearance racks and you can find steals at 50% or more off the retail price. Just because it has a snow flake or tree on the package, does’t mean it won’t make a nice birthday present. Or, see #3 and store it till next year! I’ve saved hundreds with this trick – especially for family events, work gift exchanges, etc.
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting creative and finding a good use for items so they don’t sit around your house, collect dust and get thrown away later! Happy Holidays and good luck with those near-miss holiday items!