Christmas is all about enjoying food, giving gifts, and spending time with loved ones – but sometimes this means we can end up with a little bit too much of everything…


To see how much of our Christmas Day goodies turn into Boxing Day waste, we conducted a survey through OnePoll* and asked Brits what they do with unwanted presents and excess food during the festive season.

While we can’t promise to prevent that inevitable squabble about who ate the last mince pie, we can offer helpful tips on what to do with that jumper that doesn’t fit and where to save on your holiday shop.

Forget ‘holly, jolly’ – find out how to have super savvy Christmas this year!

Gifts that keep on giving: What do we do with unwanted presents?

Have you ever unwrapped a present, said, ‘Thanks, I love it!’ and then wondered what on earth to do with it? If so, you’re not alone. According to our survey*, Brits have their own tactics for dealing with gifts they don’t want to keep:

What happens to our unwanted Christmas gifts?*

What happens to our unwanted Christmas gifts?

It takes us an average of 10 days to get around to returning unwanted presents to the shop* – but, considering the gift was probably bought at least a few days before Christmas, you could be too late...

Can you return unwanted Christmas gifts?

Technically, shops only have to offer returns on things that are faulty, not fit for purpose, or not as described – which doesn’t include unwanted Christmas gifts.**

However, many high street retailers have a returns policy that allows for refunds, exchanges, or store credit for most items, which they may extend over the Christmas period.

For example, John Lewis offers a return or exchange on unwanted products within 35 days of purchase, and Christmas presents bought between October 21 and December 24 can be returned up to January 28 2019.***

To return an item that was bought in store, you’ll need to show proof of purchase. If you’re lucky, the person who gave you the present will have included a gift receipt. But if not, you’ll need to ask them to help you out – if they give you the original receipt, most retailers will allow you to exchange the item for something else, or for store credit.**

If the gift was bought online, the rules are a bit different. Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, the buyer has 14 days after receiving an item to tell the seller they want to return it and get a refund, and a further 14 days to send the item back.* Certain retailers will have their own policies, which may allow more time.

How to return an unwanted gift in store

1. Check the retailer’s returns policy.

2. Get hold of proof of purchase (either a gift receipt or original receipt).

3. Visit the store to exchange the item or get store credit instead.

How to return an unwanted gift online

1. If you’re outside of the 14-day period, check the retailer’s returns policy to see if you’re still able to return the item.

2. The original buyer will need to notify the retailer to request a return or exchange.

3. Send the item back to the retailer.

4. If you’ve exchanged the item, it’ll typically be sent to the original buyer’s address.

Festive dining: How to make the most of the Christmas spread

Nobody wants to run out of snacks and drinks on Christmas Day, but does that mean we end up overfilling our trollies and then our bins? According to our survey, the average UK household will spend around £100 on food and drink this festive season – and of that, an average £16.35 worth of groceries will be wasted or thrown away.*

Most wasted Christmas foods

Sometimes, food waste is unavoidable. But there are many ways we can improve our habits and stop the Christmas spread from ending up in the bin.

Why do we end up with Christmas food waste?

Planning is key to ensuring we buy exactly the right amount of food at Christmas. Once you know how many people will be at the dinner table, make a list of what you need, and stick to it!

The shops are full of festive goodies that can be tempting but try not to get too carried away – remind yourself of what you already have and how much you and your family will realistically be able to eat.

For many families, Christmas isn’t just a one-day event – we also have Christmas Eve and Boxing Day to account for! Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to use Christmas leftovers to make a delicious Boxing Day lunch – think turkey sandwiches, bubble and squeak, or a quick veggie casserole. Check out some of our favourite Christmas leftover recipes for more ideas!

Save at the checkout: Where to buy your Christmas groceries

There’s no easy answer to where the cheapest place to buy your Christmas food is – depending on what you like to put on the table, each of the major supermarkets will have deals and offers that suit your budget.

However, there are a few savvy tactics you can use to save money on your festive groceries:

• Compare prices online: Before you shop, scan supermarket websites to see which places are offering the best deals on the items you plan to buy.

• Cash in on vouchers: Many retailers offer a discount on your first online delivery order, and so it can pay off to buy the bulk of your Christmas groceries online.

• Shop around: It’s often worth spending more on main dishes, such as a higher-grade turkey or ham, but don’t feel the need to splash out on side-dishes like roast veggies or cranberry sauce.

By planning ahead and putting some thought into your Christmas shopping, you can make sure that you get the most out of your budget and enjoy every last crumb! And remember, include gift receipts with the presents you give, just in case!


*Survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Satsuma Loans, of 2,000 UK adults who celebrate Christmas and give/receive presents at Christmas. Carried out between 26/10/18 and 29/10/18.

**Which?: Consumer Rights – Christmas Shopping Rights: Can I return unwanted Christmas Gifts? retrieved on 12/11/18

***John Lewis: Returns and Refunds – How to Return an Item retrieved on 12/11/18