Guest Post by Jen Malik

It never fails. Aunt Rita always buys you that horrendous Christmas sweater that you’re just never going to wear. Of course, if you’re ultra-polite, you may make an obligatory appearance in the sweater just once. But goodness knows, you don’t want that sweater.

So what do you do?

Ask Aunt Rita is she has the receipt, so you can exchange it? Probably not, because Grandma Johnston would be miffed and Aunt Rita might get embarrassed. Or would they?

Taking the lead from my mother, I prefer to take a pro-active stance when it comes to returning unwanted gifts. Personally, I find the thought of giving someone a total useless gift completely against the spirit of gift giving. Ego has no place in gift-giving…I give gifts because I want to show people I care and that I care enough to get them what they want. And even though I may try to buy the perfect gift, I most certainly goof up now and then.

So instead of creating any awkwardness, I enclose a gift receipt with each gift. That way, the recipient can exchange or return the gift. Heck, if they’d prefer to take the cold hard cash, so be it. It’s what’s useful to them at that moment. Many large stores offer gift receipts that list the items without their price, but if they decide to purchase they will get a credit or refund of the original purchase price. If the store I’m buying at doesn’t offer a gift receipt, I might include the receipt or at the very least, tell the recipient that if it’s not quite the right thing, they can exchange it.

I find that when you’re open like this, other people are open too. I don’t think it’s ungrateful (although some old school gift-givers may not agree, so use your judgment)…it’s a matter of being practical. And seriously, it does nobody any good when things pile up in your closet, never to be used. Of course, you might make donations out of some of the gifts or get resourceful and sell them on eBay, but certainly, many unwanted gifts end up in landfills. That’s not right either.

So let’s say we be practical this year? Let people get the gifts they want…and let there be no hard feelings. Sound good?

And seriously, if you keep pretending you like those horrid Christmas sweaters, you’re gonna keep getting more Christmas sweaters. Stop the vicious cycle now. 😉