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7 ways to turn unwanted wedding gifts into cash

Whether it's a duck-shaped serving tray from Aunt Mabel or a $400 Disney Store gift card from the friend who must be hoping you have children ASAP, every newlywed couple has to consider what to do with gifts they didn't ask for and will likely never use. 

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    A couple celebrates their marriage in Jersey City, N.J.
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No matter how carefully you curated your wedding registry, after all is said and done, you probably ended up with a few random, unwanted gifts from distant friends and relatives. 

Whether it's a duck-shaped serving tray from Aunt Mabel or a $400 Disney Store gift card from the friend who must be hoping you have children ASAP, every newlywed couple has to consider what to do with gifts they didn't ask for and will likely never use. Sure, you could stuff 'em in the back of a closet until the end of time, but why take up all that valuable storage space? What if I told you there was a way to get rid of these unwanted items for good, make some extra cash and avoid offending the bad gifter all at the same time?

Here are seven steps to getting the most out of even your worst wedding gifts:

Write the giver a sincere thank-you.

This is wedding etiquette 101. Even if you get the urge to run screaming out of the room every time you look at the creepy wedding dolls your sister-in-law gave you, it's still important to take the time to thank her for her trouble. No matter how seemingly heinous the gift, whoever bought it for you thought you would like it, and took the time to pick it out for you. So they got it wrong, so what? You're a grown up. Take the high road, and write them a thank-you note just like you would for any other gift.

One thing you should NOT include in this note? A receipt request. This is tacky, petty and the opposite of gracious. Not only will you certainly not get a receipt for the item promptly mailed to you (if they didn't include it with the gift, they probably threw it out), but it will also alert the gifter that you plan on returning their present, which may result in hurt feelings and a strained relationship in the future. You're not required to keep a gift you have no use for, but being kind costs you nothing AND it won't come back to bite you at your next Thanksgiving dinner.

If it came with a receipt, return it.

This is pretty simple. If the person who gave you this gift was thoughtful enough to include a gift receipt, you can either swap it out for something you want, or get cash back and treat yourself to a nice dinner.

If it didn't come with a receipt, do some research.

Nordstrom has a great return policy, and will often accept returns even without a receipt.

Google the brand and model number, and see what listings pop up for it. Even if you can't be sure exactly where the unwanted gift is from, it might not matter. Lots of stores allow returns without receipts, so as long as the product in question is unused and in good condition. Check for your item at these stores in particular, which all have a reputation for being great with returns and, at the very least working with receipt-less customers:

Sell it online.

If you can't find a store to offer you a refund, sell your unwanted gifts online to someone who will actually appreciate them! You'll get money back that you can spend on something you actually want, or use to pay down some of that pesky wedding debt. It's pretty easy to find online buyers for anything from small kitchen appliances to handmade squirrel taxidermy. The internet is a weird, weird place, and if you need help traversing the world of online sales, check out our comprehensive how-to guide for new sellers.

Swap it out for something better using a bartering site.

Take a step back to the days of olde by listing your unwanted gifts on a bartering site. There are quite a few out there that allow users to make trades with each other, so you can swap out your weird presents with stuff you want and need. While it might be a little more complicated than a simple buy/sell transaction, getting good at navigating bartering sites is one of those life skills that will likely pay off in the future. Here are a few options to look into if you're interested:

If it's a gift card, swap it out for cash on a gift card exchange site.

If you received a gift card to a store you never shop at, gift card exchange sites are going to be your new BFF. Instead of letting that money languish for years in a side drawer, swap it out for a card from a store you like, or sell it for cold, hard cash. We wrote an in-depth breakdown of our favorite gift card exchange services last December, but here's a good list to start with:

Give it away.

If all else fails, donate your unwanted gifts to someone in need. Check out the Buy Nothing Project if you're having trouble finding a good home for certain things. They're a worldwide social movement dedicated to connecting people who need certain with those who are giving them away. There are now more than 1,300 Buy Nothing Project community groups around the world, and I'd venture a guess there's one in your area. Check them out and you can make sure the gifts you don't want to go a good home, and maybe even find something you can snatch up for free!

This article originally appeared on Brad's Deals.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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