Your Step-by-Step Guide to Simplifying Gift Returns

How to return an unwanted gift
If you didn't make a wish list and let your loved ones know just what you wanted this holiday season, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a gift you'd rather not keep. No one wants to hurt anyone's feelings or get into a heated conversation with a sales associate at the store, so here are a few tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

Research Return Policies

Check in with each store you need to return gifts to. You may have a limited time (if at all) to receive cash back before you may only opt for credit. J. Crew, for example, will only allow you to return or exchange in-store purchases within 30 days-even if you bought the product yourself. Other stores will offer store credits only-if they allow you to return at all. You may also want to know stores' policies for returning gifts without a receipt. Generally, you will only get the current selling price, so it may not be worth returning something at all if the item's price has recently been deeply discounted, which often happens after Christmas.

Get Receipts, If Possible
If you don't know where a gift came from or have learned you can't return or exchange it without a receipt, you can always ask for a receipt. However, it might not be worth your while. If the gift is inexpensive and you're worried about offending the giver, you might want to let it go. But, if it's pricey and you think you can politely ask for a receipt (maybe suggest you want to exchange for a different color or size), pull the person aside (after all the presents have been unwrapped, of course) and gingerly request the proof of purchase.

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Make a Plan
Don't hit the mall blindly. If you have a bunch of stuff to offload, create an itinerary for hitting all the stores. And try to show up right when the store opens when sales associates are in the best mood they will be all day. It's also nice to pop in early to avoid the midday rush of of customers.

Be Nice
While it can be a hassle, there's absolutely nothing wrong with returning something. You might have had to deal with a surly salesperson in the past, but most folks who work retail are more than accustomed to customers making returns. Be polite, honest, matter-of-fact, and-most importantly-be willing to accept the store's policy. The nicer you are, the more likely you are to have an easy transaction.

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Make the Best of Things
Don't sweat what you can't return. There are other worthy uses for unwanted gifts. You can re-gift an item (but only if it's in brand new condition!), donate it to charity, or save it to break out for the next time the gift-giver comes over to visit.

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