Do I Return Gifts or Keep Them?

Do I Return Gifts or Keep Them?

Since we’re on the brink of one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, let’s just address the yearly dilemma of whether to return gifts or keep them head on.  Every year, across the world, people receive Christmas gifts that are either hideous, not useful, the wrong size, or just plain make you think, “What on earth were they thinking?”

I know that I have received many, many gifts that have sent me into a conundrum of whether to return the gift or keep it.  And, for me, it usually boiled down to whether or not the person that gave me the gift would be crushed if they found out that I had returned it.  But in all honesty, I think a lot of this anxiety can be attributed to my upbringing. If you haven’t already, read my Korean Gift Giving Etiquette and Practices article and you’ll understand.

Let me give you a good example of a situation that I face every time I receive a gift from my sister in law.  Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my sister in law, and she always puts a great deal of thought into what she buys me. She genuinely believes that she is giving me something that I will absolutely love.  She knows that I love peacocks (or at least I used to), and for the last six gifts, I have literally gotten something that had something to do with peacocks.

picture of an unreturned peacock shirt

I’ve gotten three peacock shirts, a peacock paperweight, a peacock cutting board, and a maxi-length dress that has peacock feathers going down it.  And because she’s my sister in law, I never return gifts that she has given me.  At this point, I have had to declare a moratorium on giving me anything related to peacocks!  And before the peacock dynasty, it was the butterfly dynasty.

Out of love for her, I keep what she gives me, and even – gasp – wear one of the outfits now and again.  You may have found yourself in a similar situation at some point in your life.  There have been many times that I have returned a gift and exchanged it for something that I would enjoy more.  This is usually reserved for gifts that I receive from a relative or friend that I don’t frequently see.

picture of membership card to the Clueless Gift Giver's Club

This very dilemma is one of the biggest reasons why my hubby prefers to give money rather than spend time picking out a gift.  I never have to return one of his gifts because he never picks them out for me!  I playfully tell him he’s a “card carrying member of the clueless gift givers club”, but when I stop and think about it, he’s a pretty sly old fox!  After all, if he doesn’t pick out a gift – he doesn’t have to worry about the recipient wanting to return it!

So if you’re asking yourself, “Do I return the gift or do I keep it?”, I hate to say that there’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s a situational dilemma that we all have to face at some time or another.  If you find yourself with a gift that you really have no use for and you don’t want to ask the giver where they got it so you can return it, you can always re-gift it. At least that way the gift won’t go to waste (like the peacock shirts I have that still have manufacturer hang tags on them).

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