Returning Unwanted Gifts Means Real Treats

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I was looking for tape to wrap my presents with last week when I came across something interesting:

It was one of the perils of online shopping: “things in pictures may not resemble real-life object.” In this case, ugly sheer shirt, which resembled in cut, style, and color something that a 50’s housewife would love. Unfortunately, I am neither from the 50s OR a housewife, so I carefully put aside the item to be returned along with its receipt and prepared to return it by mail.

That was from LAST Christmas. I was looking for tape to wrap my presents with last week when I came across something interesting:

It was one of the perils of online shopping: “things in pictures may not resemble real-life object.” In this case, ugly sheer shirt, which resembled in cut, style, and color something that a 50’s housewife would love. Unfortunately, I am neither from the 50s OR a housewife, so I carefully put aside the item to be returned along with its receipt and prepared to return it by mail.

That was from LAST Christmas.

Apparently, I am not very smart about returning unwanted items (or, frankly, much of anything). If I resolve nothing else in the New Year, it will be to be better about returning unwanted items.

Why?

Budgets are tight everywhere, including my own house, and the cash from those returned items can really add up. Especially if you have the sort of family that gives whacked out presents like a quesadilla maker that end up, like that fug shirt, shoved into the back of a closet only to be unearthed a year or so later. By that time, the return policy is expired and you’re, well, stuck with something you MIGHT be able to re-gift–but only if you recall who gave it to you in the first place.

This year, I plan to return any item I purchase unnecessarily and put that money (or store gift card) from the returns toward something I actually want. I’ve spent enough time sacrificing the small treats to pay for the bigger things–like my mortgage–so I’m going to start sneaking in those small treats the only way I can. I deserve to have a small treat now and again. I’ll be sure to use all of these smart return policy guidelines to help me in my quest to return!

So what if I only get a couple bucks back when I return my unwanted item? Those returns mean a couple of bucks in my pocket I didn’t have before–a couple of bucks I can spend on myself.

This year, I will wait in lines and haggle with bored clerks to return each and every unwanted item I have bought or been gifted. I could even save all those small amounts of money I receive from returned items and put them toward the purchase of something larger.

I will, however, have to hit up Sears first because over 100 Sears stores are closing around the country. (Note to all of you smart shoppers: GO TO SEARS FIRST!)

And, after I return my unwanted items, I will be sure to enjoy every single treat I am able to buy myself.

In the meantime, anyone want a sheer fugly shirt?

How do you guys manage your holiday returns? Any tips for me?

Comments (33)

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  1. ChuckG

    3 years ago

    If I have a guest receipt from store, I return item ask for store credit, wait for sale. If it’s something without a receipt, there’s always eBay.

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  2. ByWordsMusings

    3 years ago

    I am USELESS at returns … and regifting since I cant always remember where it came from … so I am the Goodwill’s absolute fav – they love me there!

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  3. benjamindsearle

    3 years ago

    I hate regifting, it makes me feel lazy. Returning things is something I’ve been subtly doing for YEARS. Sometimes, I’d rather have the cash.

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  4. Crystal.Ritchie

    3 years ago

    I’m not good at returning things, even things I’ve bought. :P I usually keep ‘em in a drawer and wait for a chance to donate them. And there are always those white elephant parties. :P

    I also suggest that you not go return stuff in the first week of January. Wait it out of bit and avoid the crazy lines and picked-over stock.

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  5. SarahBeeC

    3 years ago

    And cash checks right away. In packing, I’ve found over $200 worth I’d set aside from various events.
    Did not receive anything returnable this year. Yay!

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  6. kristinebrite

    3 years ago

    I have to admit, I’m a big returner if something isn’t exactly what I want. Why live with something that you don’t want?

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  7. OriginalWacky

    3 years ago

    I must be the luckiest person ever when it comes to gifts… I don’t get many, but the ones I do get are AWESOME, and I haven’t had to return any for a long LONG while. But gosh, if I give you something that you can’t use, you’d best return it ASAP for something you can, because I just want my gift to be a pleasure, whether you pick it out or I do.

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  8. jana0926

    3 years ago

    I can’t tell you the last time I returned something. But my MIL always gives me gift receipts.

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  9. forever_trust

    3 years ago

    I hate returning items. I either don’t have the receipt or the line is insanely long. Luckily I can usually regift whatever it is I didn’t want.

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  10. triplezmom

    3 years ago

    I’m terrible at returning things, which is okay these days as I very rarely get any gifts.

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  11. TiLaMiLa

    3 years ago

    I don’t like returning gifts. I will if it’s something terribly awful and thoughtless. It’s pretty rare that I get something that awful.

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  12. lucidlotus

    3 years ago

    I am a serial returner. I but things willy nilly and then return them. But, I am in LOVE with the idea of returning all the unwanted, fug stuff for mad money. And you’re right, even a few bucks can purchase a tasty, frothy coffee drink which makes it all worthwhile.

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  13. FromTracie

    3 years ago

    I handle my returns by handing the item and receipt to my husband on his way out the door to work…so he doesn’t have time to argue about it and will do the returns on his way home.

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  14. chibi_jeebs

    3 years ago

    I hate Christmas returns because of all the years I spent in retail hell (the last five of which were at the returns counter of a Big Box Store). However, I hate holding onto to stuff I don’t like/need even more. The lady at Walmart DID look at me funny when I returned a bunch of (wrong) toiletry items that I got as stocking stuffers last year… hehe

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  15. mooivrouw

    3 years ago

    I completely suck at returns. I can’t even manage exchanging for a size that fits. The idea of waiting in lines, or dealing with the post office, just make me all crazy. But I do like the idea of turning the fugly items into something I actually want. Maybe this will be my year to start trying!

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  16. StaceyK

    3 years ago

    I’m the designated returner in our house. I try to get there right when the store opens to avoid the long return lines this time of year. Also, be nice to the clerk. They are overwhelmed during the holidays and by the time January comes around, they’d probably rather stick hot pokers in their eyes than deal with rude customers.

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  17. KarenMarrs

    3 years ago

    If you still have that quesadilla maker, you are welcome to regift it my way!

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  18. thepsychobabble

    3 years ago

    I didn’t know sears was closing down stores. Bummer:-/

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  19. gorillabuns

    3 years ago

    i’m the worst returner. by the time i finally find the receipt, i can’t return it any longer!

    and Sears? isn’t this store like a national treasure?

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  20. Inelegant_Life

    3 years ago

    I want the quesadilla maker, too! Have a raffle. :) It was the hot gift at our white elephant gift exchange this year. Who would have thunk it? And I very rarely return anything. 1) I don’t usually get gifts and when I do it’s either something I like or I have no idea where it came from and cant’ return it. 2)I have a serious phobia about returning anything – even if it’s broken or doesn’t fit or whatever. If my husband won’t return it for me it just sits around.

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  21. rollwave83

    3 years ago

    Just take a deep breath. Don’t try to do the returns if you expect to get anything else done in that trip. Low standards=disappoints. Expect it to take forever, deal with annoying clerks, jump through hoops that make no sense, and you will be happy when someone says thank you! Or something is returned easily.

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  22. serial_writer

    3 years ago

    I tried to comment yesterday, but oh wells. If the Kmart down the road closes in this two horse town, I’m screwed. I get my meds there for very cheap. :(
    Also, I have a toy that was destined for the boy that I didn’t give to him b/c he’s too young. I was going to return it, till he found it today. Little snoop.

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  23. pjsankar23

    3 years ago

    I came across a site called, giftuwish.com recently. It helps avoiding unwanted gifts giving an option for the receiver of gift to choose without the giver knowing it. Other features of the site say, event invitations, anniversary reminders, online greetings are also useful.

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  24. TheBoldBlend

    3 years ago

    I like buying things at Target with my debit card. If I lose the receipt they can swipe my card and their computer “knows” what I bought. Nice not to have to save receipts.

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  25. Themommy

    3 years ago

    We return darn near everything since I am married to the pickiest man alive (both flattering cause he chose me and yet annoying cause he’s impossible to shop for!).

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  26. HalalaMama

    3 years ago

    Tip #1…only buy something from Target that you are a.) certain you love or b.) can manage to keep the receipt for because otherwise? You are stuck with that unopened impulse buy smoothie maker sweetie.

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  27. MTGracie

    3 years ago

    I’ve been pretty lucky through the years. I haven’t had a truly unwanted gift in a long time – until this year when my dad decided his adult daughter needed a porcelain doll for some bizarre reason. Sadly, I have no clue where he got it, so I can’t return it. Maybe my next baby will be a girl…

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  28. HeatherS01

    3 years ago

    I return things when I buy things that I don’t need. Sometimes I have to bring things home and think about them. My husband is a ruthless returner. He will pack up a huge bag of gifts (ours or kids) that aren’t going to be used and take it to Walmart or Target regardless of where it was bought (often we don’t know). He usually comes home with a gift card and we sometimes let the kids “buy” something special with it during a boring month like March, and their jonesing for something new! (Both are summer birthdays so the long winter between Christmas and birthdays can seem even longer to them!).

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  29. kellzzz

    3 years ago

    I have to PUSH my family, especially the menfolk, to try on/try out everything they receive to make sure it fits or works right away. Nothing frustrates me more about gift giving than my brother waiting six months or longer to put on a shirt that is ugly or uncomfortable that he’ll never wear.

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  30. KristinC

    3 years ago

    I think you should have a giveaway on your blog for the frakking ugly shirt and then that person should have a giveaway on their blog for the frakking ugly shirt and then…rinse, lather, and repeat.

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  31. melzers

    3 years ago

    I am pretty good at returning things quickly I hate to see money wasted!

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  32. bookworm81

    3 years ago

    I try to put things I’m going to return in the car right away so whenever I happen to be near where it needs to go I have it.

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  33. fandpinlv

    3 years ago

    Yep. It broke my heart to return the maternity dress that my 8 and 4YO bought me. (I’m not pregnant and have no plans to ever be pregnant again.) I used the cash to buy new workout clothes. I can take a hint.

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