How to repurpose unwanted Christmas gifts – six ways to upcycle

Chris Evans says he and his wife aren’t buying Christmas presents

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Christmas day is almost over, leaving households across the UK filled to the brim with unwrapped gifts to commemorate December 25. With everything from clothing and toys to food and furnishings being exchanged this Christmas, it’s almost a guarantee that you will receive a few gifts you probably weren’t expecting – but how can you put unwanted presents to good use? spoke to the upcycling experts to find out how you can give those less anticipated gifts a new home for a less wasteful start to the new year.

How much does the UK spend on unwanted gifts?

Each year the UK spends an estimated £700 million on unwanted gifts, said packaging manufacturer & designer GWP Group.

A whopping one in five Christmas gifts will end up in landfill, contributing to the UK’s unwavering wasteful habits.

With six percent of all unwanted gifts going straight in the bin on Christmas Day, food waste isn’t the only issue Brits should be looking to tackle this December.

Speaking exclusively to, Natacha Blanchard, consumer PR lead at Vinted said: “I’m sure it has happened to many of us – to receive a gift that’s not quite for us or doesn’t quite fit.

“This year, instead of hiding it at the back of your wardrobe, we’re encouraging anyone who receives a gift they don’t need, don’t like, or which doesn’t fit, to re-gift it to someone else who would find it special.”

How to repurpose unwanted Christmas presents

The rise of second hand gifting is making what was once a niche market accessible to everyone thanks to the increasing number of platforms which can be used to buy and sell pre-loved items.

According to Vinted, 55 percent of Brits are now consciously asking for a mixture of both new and second hand items for the festive season.

Natacha added: “Selling or buying on platforms like ours is the perfect way to do this, giving your unwanted gifts a new home, while encouraging more responsible gifting.

“And if you sell your unwanted gifts, maybe you can even think of donating part of the profits to a charity.”

How to repurpose gifted clothing

Sustainable fashion is a shared goal for many outlets in the clothing industry but there is still a long way to go to change the nations’ unsustainable fast-fashion habits.

Everything from Christmas jumpers to unwanted shoes can be donated using a range of textile recycling initiatives, including:

  • Fanfare Label – a sustainable women’s clothing brand transforming the way people buy, wear & discard clothing
  • H&M – £5 voucher when you donate clothing
  • Zara clothing recycle stations
  • M&S and Oxfam’s “Shwopping Clothes Exchange” – £5 voucher when you donate
  • Schuh – “Sell your Soles” scheme
  • TK Maxx – donate to Cancer Research when you give in unwanted clothing

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How to upcycle unwanted homeware gifts

Personalising your home is one of the many perks of being a homeowner, but when you’re given something that’s not quite to your taste, don’t rule it out.

Upcycling is one of the most sustainable ways to repurpose furniture or furnishings without spending a fortune.

Speaking exclusively to, Rachael Wood, Social Media Manager at said: “In most cases, upcycling is as simple as buying a can of spray paint.

“If your friend or family asks after their gift, just be honest and tell them you really loved your gift but it didn’t quite go with the colour scheme in your home so you repainted it and now it’s absolutely perfect!”

How to make use of gifted toiletries

We’ve all received those generic toiletry gift sets at Christmas and it’s likely that many of us will have unwrapped one today.

Whether you have sensitive skin or are fully stocked for bath-time essentials, try using these fresh-smelling lotions and potions as part of a crafty hamper instead.

Rachel explained: “Buy a cheap wooden crate, line it with hay, shredding or tissue paper and re-gift it to someone.

“Generic hampers are the ideal gift for a new neighbour or a friend who’s just moved house – but food banks are often the best place for essentials like this.”

Donate to Charity

Donations are the most beneficial way to repurpose unwanted gifts in order to raise money for worthy causes and share material goods with disadvantaged groups.

Where to send children’s toys

Donating unwanted toys to children’s hospitals like Great Ormond Street Hospital is a great way to brighten the stay of ill children and their families.

Check wish lists of local children’s hospitals and charities to see what type of gifts they are asking for this year to benefit people less fortunate this Christmas.

Donate books to schools or charities

Reading is a crucial skill every child should have and giving young people the opportunity to get lost in the world of fiction is a priceless gift.

Check to see if local schools, libraries and charity shops are taking books.

Speaking exclusively to, recycling and waste management experts at said: “Books 2 Africa is a specific book charity that donates over 20,000 books each month to schools and centres in Africa.”

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