How to make money off those unwanted holiday gifts

By the time the holiday dust settles, the odds are good that you will end up with at least one unwanted holiday gift that you don't know what to do with. According to research from Optoro, a company that helps process returns from retailers, nearly $70 billion worth of holiday purchases are returned each year — that's more than 11 percent of the estimated $630 billion spent in total during the holidays.

Returning a gift doesn't mean you're ungrateful; some gifts simply aren't useful in your life. Rather than letting these gifts gather dust in a closet, consider turning them into something useful, such as cash.

If you received items that were misses this year, take a look at these five ways to make money off your unwanted holiday gifts.

woman paying at a clothing store
woman paying at a clothing store

1. Return Them

If you have an unwanted holiday gift, the first thing to do is see if you can return it.

"If you are looking to get the most money back possible for unwanted gifts, your best bet is to return them," said Paul Moyer from "Places like Walmart, Target, Kohl's and other [stores] will allow you to return items in exchange for a gift card."

And if you don't think you'll use a gift card to the store, you can turn around and sell it for actual cash. Moyer said, "If you received a gift card to a store that you do not use, you can get as much as 92 percent of the card's value using gift card selling services, like Cardpool."

Even if you don't have a gift receipt, there might still be a way to turn an unwanted present into cash. Many retailers can use a packing slip in lieu of a gift receipt — Walmart will even use the sender's email address to issue a store credit for an unwanted gift in some cases. Additionally, Amazon can take back unwanted gifts through its Online Returns Center, and Bed Bath & Beyond will take back items without receipts and issue exchanges or gift cards for the item's current selling price, minus 20 percent.

Don't Miss: 50 Stores With the Best and Worst Return Policies

friends on computer together
friends on computer together

2. Trade Them

If you love to bargain, then trading your unwanted holiday gifts is a great way to satisfy your inner bargain hunter while scoring stuff you actually want. You'll have better success if you stick to bartering sites that specialize in specific items, so avoid the ones that say they trade everything. Here are some of the best sites for different gift types:

Game Trading Zone specializes in trading video games and gaming accessories. Users deal directly with one another, and there are no fees to buy, sell or trade items.

PaperBackSwap is perfect for trading away those novels you don't plan on reading. The site uses a credit system, so you don't actually sell anything. You simply list your unwanted books and use the credits you receive to get new ones.

Another option is A repository for a wide range of items, the site boasts a wide array of children's items, including toys and clothes. You can trade all the gifts your kids got for the holidays and don't intend to use for things they actually need and want.

RELATED: 10 sneaky tricks retailers use to get you to spend more money during the holidays:

3. Sell Them

If you are set on turning unwanted Christmas gifts into cash in your pocket, consider selling items online. You probably won't make back the original value — after all, second-hand buyers are looking for deals too. However, this method offers a way to beef up your bank account rather than just trading goods for others. Here are some popular online sales sites where you can find eager buyers:

With more than 60 million monthly users in the U.S. alone, Craigslist is one of the most popular sites for selling your unwanted stuff. It's generally free to list your items, but sellers have to deal with meeting buyers face to face to exchange money for goods.

Poshmark is used exclusively for clothing and accessories. Simply download the free app, and you can be on your way to making money off your unwanted fashion items. Shipping is paid by the buyer, but sellers do have to pay fees ranging from a flat $2.95 to 20 percent of the total sale.

See More: How to Sell Used Clothes Online With Sites Like Poshmark

Also known as "the world's online marketplace," eBay boasts a huge network of users. As a result, you have a better chance of finding buyers for more unusual items than you would on other sites. However, because of the wide array of products on eBay, it's also easy for your item to get lost in the crowd. Additionally, you'll have to pay a seller's fee, which is based on the total amount of the sale.

A mobile-only app, OfferUp is a hybrid of Craigslist and eBay with a local twist. Buyers search for items near them, and all communication is kept within the app, so you don't have to give out your personal contact info. However, you still have to meet with the seller in person to exchange goods and money.

Letgo is similar to OfferUp, but users join local selling groups. Items for sale are posted in the app, users can message one another and there are no seller fees, as transactions happen face to face.

woman with a box of donations
woman with a box of donations

4. Donate Them

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of trading or selling your unwanted holiday gifts, you can donate them for a tax break. It's important to note that a nonprofit has to be approved by the IRS for donations to be tax deductible. However, most religious and educational organizations qualify, as do many volunteer groups, thrift stores and animal rescues.

If you decide to donate your items, make sure you make a list of exactly what you gave, the dates they were donated and the organizations that accepted them. Also, you can only write off the "fair market value" of the items, which will probably be less than the price of the unwanted gift. Still, this is an easy way to turn your unwanted gifts into tax savings, while helping a worthy cause.

gift wrapping supplies
gift wrapping supplies

5. Regift Them

Regifting doesn't mean you aren't grateful for a present — it just means the item might serve someone else better. Not only is regifting a great way to get rid of unwanted clutter, but it can also save you money. Because you don't have to fork over cash to buy a new gift, you can keep more of your paycheck in your pocket.

Here are some tips for regifting successfully:

Keep it on the down low. Just like with "Fight Club," the first rule of regifting is that you never talk about regifting. Not everyone appreciates the act of giving away unwanted gifts, so it's best to keep it to yourself.

Always regift with intention. Don't give away something just to get it out of your house. The regift should always make sense for the person on the receiving end.

Keep track of where the gift originally came from. Place a sticky note on the unwanted item with the name of the person who gave it to you. The last thing you want to do is accidentally give a gift back to the original buyer.

Carefully inspect the package and then rewrap it. Make sure any nametags and other identifying information are removed from the item. Then rewrap the gift, so it doesn't look like it's been sitting in your closet for months.

Regift outside your circle of family and friends. You know that coffee table book your Aunt Lynn gave you for your birthday last year? It would be pretty embarrassing if she saw it in your sister's living room. For best results, make sure there is no way your regift can cross paths with its originator.

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This article originally appeared on How to Make Money Off Those Unwanted Holiday Gifts

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