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A quick survival guide for handling unwanted Christmas gifts

It’s one thing to receive fluffy, holiday socks for Christmas, but it’s another thing to receive a gift bag with five bundles of socks. Granted, I’ll never have to worry about my feet being cold again, but whenever I open my drawer I can’t help but wonder, “Who needs this many pair of socks?”

I hope you never find yourself in my situation. But if you do, remember these two things: smile and keep the receipt. It doesn’t hurt to be honest (or it might), but subtlety is the best policy. Consider these options when handling an unwanted Christmas gift.

Check for a receipt with your gift. Most people won’t put the receipt directly with the gift but will hold on to it. You don’t have to directly say you don’t like the gift, but find some way to get the receipt if you choose to take the gift back and exchange it for something else. Try to come up with an excuse — maybe you got the wrong size, you want it in another color or you’re looking for something similar — and scheme your way into scoring that receipt. Yes, it’s a little white lie but we’ve all told worse before.

Master of Science in Management at Wake Forest

If there’s no way to get a receipt, try to figure out where the gift came from. Stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney don’t require a receipt to make returns, and depending on the store policy, even gifts that have already been used or assembled can still be taken back without a receipt. Most online stores will accept returns without a receipt and will give you a free return label to send your item back in.

Re-gifting is an option for gifts you absolutely do not want. In this case, avoid re-gifting to the person who gave you the gift or someone who knows about the gift (yes, people are that bold). Being subtle and sparing feelings is the best gift you could give anyone for the holidays.

If none of these options sound appealing to you, you can always donate your gift to someone who may need it. A random act of kindness goes a long way, especially during the holiday season. Items such as socks, blankets, jackets and small toys are little things that can make a difference to someone’s holiday.

To my great gift givers, my biggest question is: how do you do it? How do you know exactly what to get someone? How do you pay attention to what someone likes and dislikes? Seriously, how? If I kept track of what my friends and family like and dislike, I’d look like the Charlie Day conspiracy theory meme.

To my not-so-great gift givers, gift cards and cash are always good options if you don’t know what to get that person or if they’re a hard person to shop for. After all, who doesn’t like money?

This Christmas, I’m thankful for friends, family, receipts and my unexpected sock collection. The thought is what matters most, right?

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