9 Smart Tips for Returning Christmas Gifts You Don’t Like

1. Wait until After New Years

Although most people are rearing to return the item immediately after Christmas, it’s actually really smart to wait until after New Years when stores slow down. Also, you might actually get more for the item if you wait for the Christmas sales to end and for the items to go back to full price.

2. Figure out Where the Item is from

If you want to return an unwanted gift, you need to figure out where it came from. I generally turn to my web browser to search for the item and determine the potential retailers where the item came from. If there is more than one store that carries the item, I would suggest you then determine which store has the most flexible return policy to ensure you can return or exchange the item.

3. Review the Store’s Return Policy

Once you figure out where the item came from, you should look at the store’s return policy to figure out what they require to return an item. Some stores will allow you to exchange the item or receive store credit even if you don’t have a receipt. Other stores will not accept a return or exchange without some proof of purchase.

4. Find a Proof of Purchase

So how do you get a proof of purchase on a gift? It is so awkward to ask the gift-giver for a receipt. If you know them very well, you might be comfortable asking for a receipt or gift receipt. Especially if the reason is due to fit or quality, your gift-giver might be completely happy to help you return or exchange the item. If it is too awkward to ask, the next option is to provide the gift-giver’s name and other personal details to the store clerk. Some retailers keep a database with purchase history so they can look up the purchaser’s name, phone number or address. This might be a way to help them locate the original transaction and give you store credit or a gift card in the amount of the original purchase price of the item.

5. What to do When You Have No Receipt

If you can’t find a receipt or proof of purchase, you best bet is to try to return the item without a receipt. Some stores will happily accept items without a receipt and simply issue you store credit. Others will let you exchange directly in the store for an item of equal value. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and people definitely understand around the holidays there will be a lot of returns without receipt. Most retailers will try to work with you to come up with a resolution.

6. Bring Your ID

Many stores that accept items without receipt will require you to show a picture ID. They want your ID so they can capture your personal information for tracking purposes. If you are uncomfortable with them having your personal information, then your best bet is to regift or donate the item.

7. Be Prepared to Pay a Restocking Fee

Some stores will accept a return without a receipt, but they charge a restocking fee against the store credit amount. For example, Bed Bath and Beyond will accept returns without receipt but charge 20% for restocking fee. Ultimately, you have to decide if the restocking fee is worth it or not. You might opt to keep the item or regift the item if the restocking fee is too steep.  There have been times I returned an item without the receipt. This specific retailer will provide store credit at the lowest selling price of the item over the last 90 days. That means, even if the gift-giver paid more, you will only get the lowest selling price from the last 90 days. Sometimes, the amount you get for the item doesn’t seem worth it and you’re better off keeping it.

Can’t Return it?

If you are unable to return the item because the store won’t accept the item due to damage, or lack of a receipt, your best option is to either regift the present to someone else or donate the present to a charity.

8. Regift to Someone in Another Circle

Regifting can be really tricky. You need to make sure that you give the gift to someone who is outside of the circle of the person who gave it to you. For example, if you got the item from your mother-in-law, make sure you don’t give the gift to any of her family members or anyone else that she might know in your inner circle.

9. Donate to a Charity

If you have a present you don’t like and are unable to return it, the best option might be to donate it to a charity that could really use the item. You can donate to Goodwill, St. Vincent De Paul, or any other charity in your area that accepts new and used items.

Stacey Freeman: I am a Style Maven, Mommy, Educator, and Traveler.