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How to Handle Gift Returns Gracefully

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Not your size? Not your style? Not very useful?

It happens to everyone. You open presents for a holiday or celebration, and there is at least one gift that you either don’t need or you don’t want. What do you do when it comes to these gift returns? Do you tell the sender? What if there is no gift receipt?

Fortunately, there are ways to handle gift returns politely and with grace. Here are some of our best tips for navigating this gift etiquette dilemma.

Contact the gift giver if you need information

Many people include gift receipts with presents. Other gifts you can return to the store for store credit. However, if you want to do a gift return and don’t have a gift receipt or know the store, you can tactfully ask. 

In your conversation, include what you like about the gift and then explain that it just wasn’t for you. Maybe you already have something similar, or you’d prefer a different size or feature. Remember to thank them for their thoughtfulness.

Pick your battles

Sometimes the most graceful way to handle a gift return is not to return the gift. Will the gift giver be very disappointed or upset? Will they be looking for it the next time they’re at your house?

In these situations, it might be best to hold on to the gift for a year or so. Only you can decide which is the best choice to make: potentially upset a friend or relative, or hold on to a gift you don’t want or need.

Choose an alternative to a gift return

If you receive a gift you don’t want, you do have some options instead of making a return. And we’re not just talking about throwing the gift away or letting it gather dust in a storage area. Here are some opportunities you have, even if you don’t like the gift.

  • Regift: While this is probably the most controversial alternative, regifting is an option if you know someone else who would enjoy or benefit from the gift. 
  • Donate: Throughout the year, you can look for toy drives, schools, thrift stores, or shelters and donate an unneeded gift instead of worrying about a return. 
  • Keep: We aren’t encouraging you to hoard unwanted gifts. However, if you have kids and receive a toy they already have, you can use the extra for the car or grandma’s house. 
  • Repurpose: Do you have a tinkerer or crafter in your family? Depending on the gift, they might be able to use the parts for building, experimenting, or creating. 

Prevent gift returns next year

Some people are wonderful, thoughtful individuals; they just aren’t great at picking out gifts. You can help them find the perfect present by creating a wish list using Giftster. 

Everyone can see what you want and avoid purchasing duplicates, and you can use it for all of your gifting and wishlist needs throughout the year.

Head over to to make sure everyone gets the gifts they’ll love, and you can avoid the dilemma of gift returns.

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