How to Return Christmas Presents Without Stressing Out

It’s happened to all of us. We open a well-intentioned gift, only to discover that we hate it. The sweater is hideous, or it just doesn’t fit. We already have the exact same thing. We’re disappointed, and we wish we had gotten something else. What do we do?

When someone gives you a present, “it’s the thought that counts,” and that’s true. But it doesn’t mean you should have to keep a Christmas present you don’t like. How do you tactfully tell your friend or relative that you’d prefer something else? How do you deal with the hassle of returning a gift? Here are some tips on doing so without stressing out.

Don’t Return It

Before we discuss how to return a present, let’s consider not returning it at all. This is always a possibility, even if it isn’t the most prefered option. Is there anything you can use the present for? Would it severely offend the giver if you don’t keep it? Can you accept it? If so, don’t go through the stress of returning it at all, and accept that bad gifts sometimes happen. Remember that there’s always next year, and move on.

Be Polite

If you really do want to return the item, be polite when discussing it with the giver. Come up with a tactful excuse for returning the item, even if you have to tell a little white lie. No one wants to hear that you hate what they picked out for you. If it’s clothing, say that it doesn’t fit. For other items, say that you already have something just like it, or come up with a reason why you can’t keep it that doesn’t place any blame on the giver or you.


Apologize for returning the gift, because you sincerely do not want to hurt someone’s feelings. Make it a point to say how much you appreciate them thinking of you. In reality, most people would rather you ask to return a gift than keep something you don’t like or can’t use just because you don’t want to offend them.

Just Do It

If a person has given you a gift receipt, it’s very easy for you to return an item. In some cases, a person never has to know you returned the gift at all. If you do not have a gift receipt, and if the person would not know the difference between you keeping it or returning it, see if you are able to return it to the store without a receipt. Some places allow you to do this, and in most cases you’ll get store credit to exchange the item for something else.

Plan the Return

Finally, don’t stress yourself out over a return by going out of your way to do it. If the store is far away, for example, see if you can ship the return, or simply wait until the next time you’re over that way to do it. As long as you accomplish the return within a couple months or so, it’s fine.


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