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Five ways to donate unwanted Christmas presents

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

You may have taken down your Christmas decorations, but you’re probably left with a mass of well-intentioned but unwanted gifts. Here are five alternative ways to get rid of them while helping others.

The kids may be knee deep in toys and teddies while you may have received a year’s worth of toiletries or enough hamper food to fill your shelves until next Christmas.

While your first thoughts may be to return them, re-gift them or sell them on the likes of eBay or Gumtree, there are more charitable alternatives.

You’ll be foregoing a profit, but here are five ways to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents if you’ve still got a little festive cheer…

Beauty or hygiene banks

Beauty Banks and The Hygiene Bank both aim to tackle hygiene poverty. They believe that being clean is a basic human right rather than a luxury or privilege.

As charities, they rely on volunteers in the community and donations from people, collecting and redistributing personal care items to those in need.

Items such as shampoo, soap, sponges, razors, lotion, as well as nappies and wipes are gratefully received, as long as they’re in date and in the original packaging (though half packs of nappies are welcomed).

The items can be dropped off at local collection points such as libraries, schools or supermarkets (depending on the area), and are donated to homeless charities, victims of modern slavery and the YMCA for example.

The Hygiene Bank has distributed over 50 tonnes of personal care items in the UK in the year and a half since launching.

Baby bank

Little Village accepts clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of five. It distributes the items to families in London who may be dealing with unemployment, low wages or domestic violence. Usually those in need are identified and referred by health visitors, children’s centres and midwives. The charity says child poverty is rising and is at its highest in inner London, despite the capital being one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

It currently operates in Wandsworth, Camden and Southwark and in its first two years, it has gifted nearly £900,000 of donations to families in need. It runs a monthly ‘wishlist’ of items and requests items are in fully working order, with an instruction manual, clean and unstained clothes, toys with all parts and equipment with all the screws and nuts.

Food bank

The Trussell Trust is on a mission to end hunger and poverty in the UK and provides emergency food and support to people. It supports over 1,000 food bank centres in the UK and accepts non-perishable and in-date food which are usually tinned or dried. You can usually donate at local supermarket collection points or food banks, while schools and churches also tend to accept food during harvest and Christmas.

Once people are identified, they receive a food bank voucher allowing them to access emergency food supplies. You can also donate non-food items such as toiletries and hygiene products.

Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle and Freegle

While many people post their items for sale on these sites, many also give away new, nearly new and unused items for free. If you ‘give to receive’, when donating an item, you may also be able to pick something up for free too.

It’s all about local community groups and helping each other while stopping items going into landfill.

The items are usually for direct pick-up. On Monday we found someone in Ealing, London, giving away new make-up and body products via Freecycle and five new pairs of baby girl socks in Dundee via Freegle.

Swap party or ‘swishing’

According to charity The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), UK consumers spend more than £60bn on clothes every year so when it comes to unwanted clothing, its mantra is to never put any clothing in the bin. Everything you wear can be reused or recycled.

While that jumper may not be your colour or you may not suit a bobble hat, you could host a swap party with family and friends to get something more your style.

The idea is that you each bring good quality and in good condition items that you swap among the group. While you’re not helping a charity as such, you may pick up something new or nearly new and all for free.