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When Someone Returns Your Gift (Reasons and What to Do)

Buying a gift, particularly for the significant people in our lives, can be difficult. Unless they come out right and tell you what they want, there are chances when you might get it wrong. And having anyone return a gift that they do not want or like can be frustrating. What do you do if this happens? 

Luckily, most things that you buy from a reputable store can be returned. The key here is knowing which items you can return and the right process to do it. And if this is not possible, you can also swap it for another item, sell it, or donate it. 

There are also some things that you can consider to help you buy a gift that will not be returned by the recipient. Let’s know more about why people return gifts and what to do with them.

When Someone Returns Your Gift?

Reasons why someone is returning the gift to you

There are many reasons why a person might return your gift, and it is not always because they hated it. So don’t feel bad about not picking the right one. 

Although, according to most retail stores, the most common reason for returns is that the gifter bought the wrong item. It could be a bag in the wrong color or a toaster in the wrong model. With gifts, these details matter.

For example, there was an incident when a dad, because his daughter loved a particular boy band, bought a ton of merchandise featuring the group Unfortunately, he misheard the name of the band and bought items with pictures of people that his daughter didn’t even know. 

Another reason why a recipient returns a gift is that he or she no longer needs that item.  Often, these returned items are accessories to things that they no longer have. Some examples are phone chargers or cases. If the person you gave the gift upgraded his or her phone, then there is no need for the item that you gifted.

A gift arriving damaged is another common reason why people return gifts. This usually happens when you buy the gift online and have it shipped to the home of the recipient. Upon opening the box, your giftee may find a damaged product. 

Again for online shopping, your recipient may return your gift if the merchant accidentally ships the wrong item. IN this case, it is not your fault anymore. However, it still feels a little bad to have somebody give back your gift even if you ordered the right item.

What are the most returned gifts?

If you hate returning your gift purchases to the store, it is a good idea to avoid buying items that people commonly return. That is unless you are sure that your recipient is going to keep it. According to store owners, the items below are things that people return to their stores the most.


The first item is shoes. Buying shoes for another person is difficult to get right because the foot is a complex part of the body. Even if there is a standard in sizing, some feet do not fall under certain sizes perfectly. 

Additionally, some shoes may look nice on the model’s feet but may not look great on your recipient’s. Plus, some shoes simply just don’t feel right. Some can be uncomfortable on the heels, can chafe the back of the foot, or pinch the toes. 

Kitchen Appliances

The next one is kitchen appliances. While gifting a loved one a coffee machine or toaster can seem generous and practical, store owners claim that people very rarely keep kitchen appliance gifts. 

That’s because people tend to already have all of these things. Unlike socks where it’s okay to have multiple pairs, people don’t really have much use for a second air fryer. 

Candles and other scented products

Another popular item that seems to get returned most often is candles. We love gifting candles because they make your home smell nice. However, people have different ideas of what ‚ÄĚsmells nice‚ÄĚ.¬†

Because we have varying scent preferences, what may smell great to you might not appeal to somebody else. The same is true for perfume, colognes, special soaps, and other scented objects. Plus, candles are fire hazards so they are not ideal gifts for people who have pets or young kids at home. 


Gym wear is commonly gifted to people who lead active lives. However, since there are so many styles and sizing variations, it is quite hard to buy gym clothes for a person even if you know their general size. The same is true for any type of clothing.

What’s worse than gym wear? Clothes for toddlers. Kids at this age experience sudden growth spurts. Even if you know the actual size of the child now, by the time you buy and hand over the new shirt or pair of pants, the child may already have outgrown it. 

In general, retailers claim socks, ties, and other accessories fare better as gifts than particular items of clothing. Socks are not something you easily outgrow. It makes more sense to buy things that you don’t have to fit into. 


Finally, in our list of things that are most likely going to be returned if received, we have makeup. It is risky buying makeup for a person even if you know that individual well. Primers and foundations are usually returned because the shades or ingredients are not right. 

Additionally, people tend to be very particular about the brand that they buy for their cosmetics. Women, in particular, spend tons of money in finding the perfect brand and shade of lipstick. And once they find it, they tend to stick to it. 

Some people even have sensitivities to certain substances. A recipient may end up getting a rash if he or she uses a product that contains a skin irritant. So, leave the makeup buying to the person and just get him or her a gift card from their favorite makeup counter. 

What to do when someone returns you a gift?

The first thing you need to do is to reassure the recipient that there are no hard feelings. While finding out that your giftee does not want to keep an item that you gave can be hurtful, it pays to know that the act of returning it may also not be easy on them. 

Very few people want you to think of them as ungrateful for not appreciating what you have. So, as another gift to them, avoid looking upset when they do approach you to hand over the item. This will alleviate some of the guilt they might feel.

To avoid the awkward situation, you can also include the gift receipt in the package that you give. This way, if the recipient feels like the gift isn’t something they can keep, they can bring the items back to the store themselves. They get some cash back, or in other cases store credit, which they can now use to buy something that they like more.

Doing this will give the recipient a more convenient way of returning the gift where you bought. Plus, it will spare you the hurt of finding out that they didn’t like it, and avoid the awkward situation which we discussed above. 

If your friend or loved one gives back a gift to you, just accept it graciously and set it aside. Afterward, you can decide whether you are going to keep it for yourself or return the item where you bought it.

How do you return an item to the store where you bought it?

Since you are the person who bought the item, if you return it, you’d be able to get your money back. Which is a good thing, because if it gets returned by your gift receiver, they will only get store credit. 

Each store has its return policy, so you have to make a note of that when you buy the item. Some retailers are very lenient about returns so you should not encounter any problem. However, there are things that you can do to make the process go smoothly.

The first thing to remember is to keep the receipts. While you may still be able to return your item without it, the process will be unnecessarily tedious. The store will have to check their records to see if you bought the product there. 

If you can’t remember when you made the purchase, they will have to go over their list one by one. If you do this after a holiday rush, that list is going to be a long one. So, spare yourself the grief and just keep the receipts.

The next thing to do is to bring the item in its unopened box. Most retailers charge a restocking fee if an item is returned without its original packaging. And if you bought CDs and DVDs, you won’t be able to return the item at all if the packaging has already been opened. The same is true for any item where the tag has already been removed. 

Next is to note the time limits for returns. Check the store’s website or call their customer service counter to inquire about it. Big merchants normally allow items to be returned within 90 days. Some stores only allow these for 30 days after the purchase. 

Don’t forget to bring your ID with you when you go to the store. Some chains keep a record of returns to avoid abuse. The store might scan your ID to check your histories such as the frequency and the value of the items you return.

If you are returning an item that was bought online, you need to go to the website where you ordered it. Go to the menu part that details your orders. There should be a link there for returning gifts. 

Select the particular item from the list and click on the Return items option. You will be asked if you want the item refunded or replaced. After clicking that, you must wait for the store to review your request. 

If it is approved, you will receive instructions containing your return options. Choose the return method that is most convenient for you. Print the label and authorization that you have been provided and use that on your package. 

Make sure to pack the item securely.  Follow the mailing instructions exactly. Once this is done, you will just need to wait for your payment to be returned to you. 

What can you do with gifts that you can’t return?

What will happen if the tablet you bought got dropped and dinged? Or if the return period has already elapsed? Now, you are stuck with an item that you may not want as well. 

Regift the less personal items

Don’t worry. There are a few ways that you can do to make the most out of this situation. 

The first option for you is to regift the item. If the gift is generally generic and is still in its original packaging, you should not have any problem regifting it. 

It might be a good idea to give it to a person who is not in the immediate social circle of the person that you originally gave the gift. This will minimize the chance of an awkward interaction between you, your initial giftee, and the ultimate recipient of the item. 

Items like glassware, candles, and small electronics are easy to regift because they are not very personal. You can store this in a big container and just pull one out when a gift situation arises. 

Jewelry, fragrances, and clothes on the other hand can be a little bit harder to regift. For these, you might have to consider other options for getting rid of them. For example, you can organize a swap meet. 

Swap them for items that you need

Call the people in your network and set a day and time where you all can meet and try to exchange the items that you don’t need for something that you do. Your gift recipient might not need another blender, but another friend might. You might also get something that you need out of it.

Resell the items online

You can also resell your unreturnable gift. You can go on Craigslist or eBay and post the items there. There are also some apps like OfferUp and let go where you can sell basically anything. For sporting equipment and clothing, you can try posting the items on SidelineSwap or Poshmark. 

Do you have unwanted gift cards? You can go to GiftCardGranny.com to get the best value for these things. You can also swap with a gift card that you might use yourself. 

You can also opt to donate the items. There are great places that accept donations for items of any kind. You can consider giving your purchases to the Salvation Army of a nearby soup kitchen. 

On top of freeing up space in your house, you might also be able to use this donation as a tax write-off. You can ask the organization for a donation receipt that you need for your tax documents.

How can you avoid returned gifts?

The best way to avoid this potentially embarrassing situation is to buy your loved ones gifts that they wouldn’t want to return. Yes, it is impossible to get into another person’s brain and see which items they want; but there are certain practices that you can observe to get closer.

The first is to go and ask them what they want from you. This takes out the guesswork and you are assured that what you buy will make that person happy. Of course, this eliminates the sense of surprise but it is more practical.

If you feel like asking outright might seem too forward, try to see if your giftee drops any hints. Take the time to get to know your giftee’s likes and dislikes. This will give you a better idea of what items to get.

Listen to their stories. Is your friend often complaining about back pain that he has been enduring for quite some time? Maybe a good pillow or an office chair that has better back support will be appreciated. 

Take notice of the things that they already have around the house. You’d know not to buy your giftee a coffee maker that they wouldn’t use if you see a brand new unit sitting on their counter. You don’t to snoop. You just need to be a little more aware of the things in your surroundings.

If you want to give a more personal gift, it will be safer to bring the receipt with you to the store. That way, if you are thinking of buying him or her a pair of shoes, it would be possible to do a proper fitting of the footwear before you pay for them.

You can do the same if you want to buy your giftee a particular item of clothing, scent, or makeup. You can also make the shopping day a fun bonding trip between you and your gift recipient. 

So, take these considerations on board and you’ll make returned gifts much less of a possibility in the future.

When Someone Returns Your Gift (Reasons and What to Do)
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