Christmas spurs Canadians to regift unwanted presents and even earn cash

Bad Christmas gift
Bad Christmas gift

Christmas is a time of giving, but it can also be an occasion for receiving less-than-desirable presents.

Instead of stuffing castoffs into junk drawers, a growing number of people are finding ways to put unwanted gifts into the hands of more appreciative recipients.

Once viewed as socially unacceptable, regifting is gaining new currency in the age of social media.

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Fiona MacGillivray traded some old items for brand new makeup that she planned to give as a Christmas gift.

The 20-something singer says the millennial mindset is particularly geared to rejecting the accumulation of possessions, especially at the holidays. And regifting unwanted presents is the perfect response.

“As much as everybody would like to think that they’re giving the perfect presents, a lot of gifts are misfires,” said the Halifax native who oversees Montreal agreements on trading platform Bunz.

The Toronto-based online platform launched in 2013 has attracted hundreds of thousands of followers in 250 cities.

Instead of selling items for cash, people exchange their castoffs for something they want.

“Bunz is a great place to get rid of the things that your aunt gave you or your students gave you that missed the mark without actually throwing them in the garbage or letting them collect dust in your garage,” MacGillivray said in an interview.

The holiday season period is one of the peak trading periods of the year, says Bunz spokesman Eli Klein.

“Christmas and just after Christmas is one of those times of the year where people are realizing they have too much stuff,” he said.

Regifting is a great way to save money and to dispose of the duplicate items that people receive, says Dilys D’Cruz, vice-president community banking at Meridian credit union.

“I think the consensus is that regifting is fine as long as you’re not giving away junk or something that was personalized for you,” she said.

She said times have changed with more people thinking it’s “not as tacky” as it used to be to give away unwanted gifts.

Up to one quarter of Canadians viewed regifting or second-hand gift giving as a way to save money during Christmas, said a 2013 Investors Group survey.

Acceptance was highest in British Columbia and lowest in Quebec.

The holidays can be a stressful time of year, with pressure to buy the right gift prompting some people to overspend, said Daniel Collison, regional director of Investors Group based in the Toronto area.

In some communities, neighbours and friends have annual regifting parties to swap out unwanted items.

“You may not be getting cash for it but you can get an asset or an item that you do want,” he said.

At one such event, Collison said he traded cowboy boot drinking glasses for a travel mug he had been looking for.

Before passing on unwanted gifts, prospective regifters should be aware of a few key rules to follow.

They include rewrapping new items in their original boxes and removing all tags that might identify the original gift giver.

Most importantly, conduct your regifting outside your family and circle of friends to avoid getting caught.

If regifting doesn’t appeal to you, selling the item on sites like Kijiji or EBay are good ways to offset some of your Christmas spending.

After the holidays, Kijiji says searches rise 10 per cent from December with Jan. 8 the peak search day last year.

“Gift cards are a popular item to re-sell this time of year, with those listings jumping by 50 per cent in December and January compared to the rest of the year,” said Kent Sikstrom of Kijiji Canada.

The top searched items after last year’s holiday were iPhones and televisions.

Also popular are furniture, outdoor and sports equipment, computers, toys and video games.

Kijiji offers the following selling tips: Prepare a detailed listing with facts such as brand name and size, be honest about quality of the item, include photos you took, set a fair price and include terms of sale.

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