Is It Rude To Return A Christmas Gift?

To return or not to return...

Woman Holding Christmas Gift

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During the holidays, giving gifts to friends and family is more about the thought than anything else. The act is about showing that you are thinking of others, which is the most important reason. Sure, everyone has that one relative who is endearingly known for gifting random oddities and dreadfully patterned scarves, or the gift swap party that sends you home with a niche item that might collect dust in the cabinet. Again, it’s about the intention more than the gift, but that brings us to a contentious debate: Is it considered rude to return a gift?

The most unwavering etiquette followers might be quick to shut down even the mere mention of returning or exchanging a Christmas gift, but others don’t necessarily feel the same way if the gift isn't a good fit. Here’s what to consider when deciding whether or not to return a gift. 

Did It Come With A Receipt?

A good rule of thumb is that if the gift giver includes a receipt in the wrappings, it’s considered fine to return or exchange. Often, that means that someone is already anticipating that the gift might not be your taste. Especially if the gift is clothing or fashion-related, it’s often expected for a receipt to be included in the case that the item isn’t the correct size.

“Personally, if I include a gift receipt with presents, it’s an indicator that it's okay if you have to exchange or return,” says Southern Living editor Alana Al-Hatlani. 

Is It Personal To The Person?

If the gift giver is someone that you know will be expecting to see the gift used in your home, it’s best to choose your battles and make sure the person knows that the gift has been used. Additionally, if it’s something that a lot of thought and care was taken into making, such as a hand-knit beanie, it would be considered respectful to keep it as a token of appreciation of the effort put in. However, after an appropriate amount of time, you can donate any gifted item, which allows it to get new use from someone else.

Can You Re-Gift? 

Some consider re-gifting to be a great way to repurpose a gift that you genuinely don’t have use for (but someone else might), but it can be tricky if word gets back to the original gift giver. Make sure that you’re not re-gifting in the same social circle or family, or you could be faced with an awkward conversation. 

Most Importantly, Always Say Thank You

Regardless if you like the gift or not, or if you plan to return it, it is always polite to send a thank you note. Ultimately, giving someone a gift is generous and never required. Even if the receipt is included or you’re able to exchange the gift without needing a receipt, there’s no need to bring it up to the gift giver unnecessarily, which Southern Living editor Rebecca Angel Baer puts perfectly: “You know, if someone returns a gift that I got them, that's fine. But I don't need to know about it.” 

If you’re bound to feel badly for returning a gift, keeping it is never a bad idea. After all, the holiday season is really about enjoying time with loved ones. Gifts are just a festive bonus!  

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