The rules for selling unwanted presents
Unimpressed with Santa's haul? Don't leave disappointing gifts lying around to gather dust. Emily Cronin explains how to offload them online
It's Christmas morning/the first night of Hanukkah/your birthday, and the sound of tearing wrapping paper fills the air. Will the gift from your loved one be the pair of earrings from Loulerie you've been longing for? Maybe some velvet loafers, the sort you're sure will keep you dancing 'til dawn on New Year's Eve? Or - dare we dream - a Gucci handbag?
Nope. It's an oversized novelty jumper. Or a pair of Crocs (not even the Christopher Kane kind). Or a hot water bottle (reader, this happened… there may have been tears).
We've all been there. For many women, suppressing initial dislike and adjusting our faces to show delight has become all too routine. Far be it from us to blame the gifters - fizzled presents are rarely the fault of the people who invest time in choosing them. It's much more positive to view disappointing gifts as an inevitable function of our own sophisticated, opinionated, specific personal tastes.
So what to do? Luckily, those same pernickety personal tastes that make us difficult to shop for tend to mean we have heads (and wish lists) full of more appealing alternatives. If the returns route doesn't seem viable, there's reselling.
Vestiaire Collective, Rebelle, Vinted, Buy My Wardrobe and a full complement of resale sites, including original online marketplace eBay, have emerged as elegant solutions to the question of what to do with unwanted gifts. "It's a really good way of not hurting anybody's feelings but making a bit of cash as well," says Rebelle manager Virginia Feacey.
Just follow these simple guidelines to make your reselling experience a snap.
Don't delay - you won't like it any better in three months
Take a week, or however long you require to pack up your tree ornaments and clear your house of family members. But then get down to business.
"There's no point in keeping something you don't like," says Anna Berkeley, the personal stylist and womenswear buyer who specialises in streamlining clients' wardrobes.
The women who retain her services may genuinely think that the tiered skater dress they're holding onto with respect to Aunt Maureen's feelings will grow more appealing with time, but it never does.
"That's just guilt. Some people need permission to get rid of things. I'm here to give that to them," she says.
High season for holiday-gift reselling falls around January 10, or the front end of the first full work-week of the new year, says Fanny Moizant, one of the founders of luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective. The site registered a 47pc increase in new sellers in January 2016 as compared to December 2015. "January is a dry month in terms of alcohol, as well as in terms of money. It's a great time to recycle," she says.
Keep the tags on
Resist the urge to recycle all that tissue paper and packaging for something you're not even planning to keep. Resale insiders agree that the closer to new the product appears, the higher the price you'll be able to achieve.
"Ideally, the best way to sell a product is with all the accessories: the tag, the box, the dust bag for shoes and bags - it's always better to have full packaging," Moizant says.
At the tippy-top of the luxury spectrum, in-demand items (like Hermès and Chanel handbags, not that you'd care to part with one of those) can achieve close to retail price.
"The better the condition of the item, the better the pricing," says Feacey, whose Rebelle site invites sellers to part with luxury designer pieces and the upper end of the high street.
If the thought of a family member stumbling on your eBay listing for their gift makes you ill, now is a good time to establish pseudonymous accounts with your resale sites of choice.
Most sites don't require real names - just a valid end-user email address for contact. Berkeley, the stylist, maintains several accounts, but also advocates dispensing of unwanted fashion goods in local consignment shops, so it's "completely faceless".
Then again, "For someone to spot something would be incredible. They'd almost have to be looking for it."
Or be open about it - gracious honesty will get you everywhere
Sasha Wilkins, founder of the LibertyLondonGirl blog, confesses to having slagged off a family member's present on Twitter and then posted it on eBay.
"Don't do that. They will find out," she says. Instead, she's a fan of a gentler form of honesty. "I've told them: 'Oh, it is so lovely, but I actually already have one. It's not refundable? Why, then let me eBay it and let you know what I buy with the money instead.'" It's a guilt-free way of getting what you want.
And remember: Your trash = someone's treasure
Just as in the case of the colleague who was shocked and delighted to find someone wanted to pay ¤150 for her unused food dehydrator, the silver lining to an unloved gift is that someone else may love it very much indeed, even if you don't.
"The items you don't like, someone else might be dreaming of, for a slightly better price," Feacey says.
Berkeley agrees: "That gift that you shove to the back of the wardrobe out of guilt - not only can you get money for it, but someone else might enjoy it."
Reselling it online, then, can be your contribution to the broader happiness of the fashion-consuming world.
What's more in line with the holiday spirit than that?