Christmas Misery or Marketing Ploy?

The reindeer were barely back in their stables, enjoying a well-deserved munch of frosted hay, when the first listings for “unwanted gift” began appearing on Trade Me. Two days after Christmas, the count – at least of those items actually labelled as unwanted gifts — currently stands at 766. Tip of the iceberg?

Probably. But, at the risk of being branded post-Christmas humbugs and unseasonal Scrooges, may we respectfully submit our observation that at least some of the so-called “unwanted gifts” currently being peddled on Trade Me are actually nothing of the kind.

What are we to make, for example, of the poor unfortunate trader who apparently received not one, not two but three necklaces made from shell, each being sold as unwanted bling in the new age & spirituality section? Or the Tupperware Large Cake Container, billed as “an unwanted gift which I have used only a couple of times”? Really? Since Christmas?

We’re not sure whether to feel sorry for — or denounce as a marketer — the poor unfortunate person selling four different XBox360 games as gifts supposedly bought for but rejected by an ungrateful son.  And we really should point out to the person selling money tins that describing a couple of listings as “unwanted gifts” strains credibility when simultaneously listing other money tins as part of an ongoing product range.

We have a little more belief in (and sympathy for) the regifter of the Ab King Pro fitness equipment, “still has plastic wrapping, includes dvd and diet plan” — the gift that keeps on nagging. We can’t help but feel sorry for the generous gift-giver whose $653 Pascoes gift voucher is now being offered at a discount on Trade Me by a recipient who says she “doesn’t wear very much jewellery, so has no real use for it”.  And we worry about the person selling the wedding keepsake, expressing good wishes for an upcoming wedding — but now unwanted.

When it comes to unwanted Christmas gifts, frankly, we would expect to find many more listings such as the “elf on a sunflower” ornament or the Moon & Star Phone Charm. And what ever happened to those hideous knitted cardigans and flamboyant ties and scarves beloved of well-meaning but hopelessly out-of-date maiden aunts?

Today’s listings on Trade Me are far too pedestrian. Of course, they’ll probably sell.

If you’re contemplating regifting some of your own Christmas knicknacks, some suggestions as noted on

Is the gift regiftable?  Never regift handmade or one-of-a-kind items.  Signed books and monogrammed items are off-limits.  Do you have to be told not to regift free promotional items?  Some gifts that are good candidates for regifting include good (unopened!) bottles of wine, new household items and inexpensive jewellery.

How is the condition?  Only new, unopened gifts in good condition should be considered for regifting.  Never give partially used gift cards.  Don’t give items that you have owned for a long time.  A general rule of thumb:  if you have to dust it off, it is not regiftable. 

Is this going to work?  Successful regifters use common sense.  If you are going to regift, be sure you know who gave you the item, so you don’t return something to the original giver.  Only regift items to people who are not likely to see the original giver.

Do you have good intentions?  Don’t just give a gift to give a gift.  Be sure that the recipient will appreciate the item.  Remember, if you feel that an item is undesirable, the recipient probably will too.  If you are regifting simply because you ran out of time, gift cards are simple to obtain and always well received.

How does it look?  When it comes to gift-giving, go for show!  While gift bags in good condition can be reused, wrapping paper is a one-time thing.  Always spring for a new card or gift tag.

Can you handle it?  If you don’t plan to announce the gift as a regift, ask yourself if you can keep the secret.  Never feel guilty about regifting once you’ve done it. 

Have you considered your options?  An unwanted gift could be a welcome donation to a charitable organization. It is also an option to suck it up and keep an unwanted gift—after all, it was a gift.

All good advice for regifting on Trade Me (or eBay) as well! 

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