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How to Return Those Crappy Christmas Gifts

How to Return Those Crappy Christmas Gifts

With the holidays officially in our rearview, we wanted to say a couple quick things. First, congratulations to all of you. You made it through yet another one. You braved the malls, you met your significant others' crazy family members, you opened your hearts (and your wallets) and you probably didn’t get all that much in return. Which leads us to number two: If your holiday looked anything like ours, you probably ended up wishing you’d gotten coal instead of some of the stuff you actually received. At least you could toss coal on the grill and cook up a steak or somethin’.

But between Aunt Cassie’s Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, your partner’s hideous—like, actually ugly—sweater and your boss’ gift card to the one string of movie theaters that don’t even exist in your state, you’re feeling pretty dejected. Of course the holidays aren’t about the material things, but hey, if we’re gonna do it, we might as well do it properly! You’re feeling guilty and ungrateful, but trust us, pal—we know those feels, and you’re not wrong.

That’s exactly what brings us to the topic at hand: What can—nay, what should—you do with all those crappy gifts you got? Is there any chance of redemption? Can things be made right? Well, as it turns out, you probably have more options than you think.

The Golden Ticket—A Gift Receipt

Listen… If the person who got you that stupid set of matching ties has any kind of soul, they attached a gift receipt in case you’re not too happy with it (To be fair, your sister-in-law should have known that no one on the planet would ever need three different-but-stupidly-similar red ties. Like, what the fuck were you thinking, Deborah?). If they did, exchanging it for something that doesn’t suck is easy as pie. Most stores will exchange your item for another one of equal or lesser value, or issue you store credit in exchange, provided you have a gift receipt.

Even without a receipt, many stores that will allow you to exchange or return an item for store credit. The main difference is usually either:

  • On the rare occasion a store will let you return a gift in exchange for cash, that option usually goes out the window without some proof of purchase. The exception is Wal-Mart, which will give cash for any returned item under 25 dollars.
  • They won’t give you the exact credit for the price paid for the item, but rather the lowest possible price they can give. So, for instance, if your item was purchased in November and is now out of season, expect to get a significantly less amount of store credit for something you decided to exchange in, say, January.

Re-Selling Gift Cards For Money

Here’s a trick that people tend to forget around the holidays. You can use it for any gift card, whether it was that 50 bucks to Cabela's your Uncle Mike gave you without realizing you’ve never stepped foot inside a Cabela's or the one you got from Target for returning the off-brand toolset your well-meaning wife got you. Believe it or not, there are services out there like CardPool that’ll buy up your store-specific gift cards for straight up cash or another gift card of your choice. You can also look into services like Amazon’s CardCash program.

The only issue with these services is, because of their straightforward convenience, you won’t get the full value of your card. In fact, expect to lose roughly 20-25% of the card’s overall value. But hey, $80 for something that isn’t stupid beats $100 for Banana Republic any day (No offense, Banana Republic).

The other way to pawn off your gift card is through a website like Craigslist. You may lose less than you would through a card service, but you’ll have to put in more legwork to reap the rewards. Either way, you have options.

Sell It Secondhand

No matter how lame you think something is, we’ll guarantee—gua-ran-tee—there’s someone out there who’s dying to have it. In fact, that might be the best thing about the Internet—it brought the world together to bask in everyone’s infinite weirdness. Whether the idea of a Roomba actually scares the shit out of you or you really, really want to part with that brand new Pilates mat Deborah gave you (Seriously, Deborah, what the fuck is your problem?), there’s someone out there who can’t wait to own it.

Luckily, the Internet has transformed the re-selling market, with services, websites and apps like eBay, Craigslist, Letgo and OfferUp making it easy as possible for people to sell whatever they want—from their ’94 Jeep Cherokees to Deborah’s bull shit Pilates mats.

Re-Gift It, Baby

This next tip is going to make you feel a little dirty, but let us preface it by saying: “Baby, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Do what you gotta do!” Think back on your childhood. Maybe it was your mother, or your aunt or even your grandmother. When the holidays rolled around, she had a stack of pre-bought holiday cards at the ready. She’d re-use all the gift bags and boxes she ever received and she didn’t think twice about any of it. She was smart, she was resourceful and, most of all, she didn't give a damn and neither should you!

If you get a gift you don’t like, take ownership of it. It’s yours to do whatever you want with—including re-gifting it to your brother-in-law who’s quiet and weird and doesn’t know how to communicate his hobbies and interests. Fuck it. Let him deal with the six months of free piano lessons from your best buddy’s girlfriend. You’ve never even seen a piano in person. Rock and roll.

In fact, we’d recommend creating a designated space in your home for the occasion. Once you have enough gifts you don’t care about—and trust us, they can pile up quite quickly—you’ll have a “Bad Gift Repository” of sorts. When Susan asks you to show her what you’ve learned on the piano, just tell her you slammed your hand in a door—every single time. Because fuck you, Susan. You’ll never get an engagement ring from Tom if you keep this crap up.

Give Them To Charity

Of course, the most noble thing to do with the stuff you don’t want is give it to people who could really use it. We’re not sure what the folks at the local church are going to do with a stainless steel wine accessories gift set, but then again, we’re not sure what we could do with it, either.

Jokes aside, there are plenty of shelters who could use those leather gloves that are a size too small, or community rehabilitation programs who can always use an extra tie or two. Organizations like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Career Gear and Planet Aid are all well-known charity organizations that’ll happily find use in all the stuff you don’t want, and there are plenty of other local organizations that could use your help.

If you don’t know what to do with those unwanted gifts or don’t want to go through the effort of exchanging or re-selling them, put them to good use and give them to the people who know how to use them best.