What You to Need to Know Before Returning That Gift

I have a dilemma. A friend gave me a great pair of rain boots this Christmas. They’re beautiful. The only problem is that I already have an awesome pair of rain boots. And I don’t live in Seattle. There is really no need for me to have two pairs of rain boots.

Now, when I opened this gift up, she thought I wouldn’t like them because they’re rain boots. She offered the gift receipt and even mentioned just giving them away. Absolutely not! If anything, I’d like to return them for some other type of shoe, but do I risk offending her by asking for the receipt?

These types of situations give me anxiety attacks.

When my husband bought me a beautiful leather messenger bag several years ago, I declared it was almost perfect. I really needed a large commuter bag, so I asked if I could return it for a different style. I thought we had the type of relationship that I could return his gifts. Uhh, apparently not.  I had no idea how upset he would get! Now I know  he’s a little sensitive about me returning gifts.

Thinking on these two situations, I’ve come up with a few tips on the “when, how, why and ifs” on returning gifts. Being the day after Christmas, I thought this very appropriate.

1. If you’re thinking about returning a gift, make a decision soon. Don’t wait  three months and then decide to return it. You’ll likely need the receipt that the gifter has long thrown away. Asking at this point would be highly tacky. It also shows that you haven’t thought about the gift for quite some time, which has probably sat in a box in your guest closet gathering dust.

2. If it’s just not your cup of tea and returning the gift is not an option, refer to “Regifting Dos and Don’ts.”

3. Every gift is unique, just like every occasion and every gifter. Take these into account when deciding on whether to return a gift. I try to always leave a gift receipt in the bag and make sure that the recipient knows that it’s perfectly OK to return it. If someone purchased you a handmade scarf from Guatemala and points out that it’s a combination of your two favorite colors … and reminds that person of the time you two sat outside a book store for four hours waiting for your favorite author and shared a scarf because they were so cold and ill prepared … it’s not returnable.

beer gift

4. If it’s from a department store and could have been a gift for a coworker,  their Aunt Mary or whoever, I think it’s OK to return.

5. If it’s from Bath and Body Works, it’s OK to return.

6. If it’s an appliance, something to clean your house with, or helps you to lose weight, it’s OK to return. (If that’s your thing, though – rejoice! They know  you well!)

aria wi-fi

Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale … cool, yes, but it’s still a scale.

7. If it’s a donation to their favorite charity, you can’t return it, but you can let them know that you’ll be making a donation to your favorite charity for their birthday — be it your alma mater or a non-profit they may not be familiar with (or even one that doesn’t quite align with their social beliefs).

8. If it’s clothing and it doesn’t fit, ask the gifter if you can return it for a different size. I think they would be delighted to know that you loved their gift so much, you want it to fit perfectly.

9. If it’s clothing and it’s not quite to your taste, refer to #3. If they picked your favorite store, but you’d rather have something else, I would try to exchange it for something different. If it’s a store you’re not a huge fan of … maybe you’re more of a Coldwater Creek gal that Hot Topic, refer to #2. (Or better yet, exchange for store credit and regift the “gift card”!)


10. Always tell them thank you, no matter what the gift.

Hope this helps! Being the day after Christmas, let the exchanging and returns begin!


3 responses to “What You to Need to Know Before Returning That Gift

  1. If I got a gift for someone and they didn’t like it, I would rather have them return it to get something they liked rather than have it sit in a closet unused forever or thrown away.

  2. Liz – let’s talk about these boots!! I might be in the market. ;o)

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