Soon the presents will all be opened, tissue paper will be strewn across the floor, and a pile of gifts will sit in the middle of the living room. Among the many treasures we will receive this holiday, there will undoubtedly be a few that leave us scratching our heads and contemplating how we will exchange them for something else.
Part of the Christmas ritual is exchanging and returning gifts that don’t work for one reason or another. Here are some etiquette tips to help make the returns go as smoothly as possible for everybody involved:
- Give the gift of a gift receipt. When giving a present, including a gift receipt allows the receiver to make a return or exchange as easy as possible. This is especially important since some major retailers are now requiring gift receipts for any sort of transaction, even a simple item swap.
- Read the receipt before you go to the store. A gift receipt includes instructions on returns and exchanges, including how much time you have to bring an item back. During the holidays, stores are a bit more lenient so “strike” while the season is still merry.
- Have a good breakfast (or lunch) before you venture out. Be prepared to wait in long lines and minimize your discomfort by eating, wearing the right shoes, and leaving small children at home.
- Hit the stores sooner than later. The sooner you go, the better the selection you’ll have for exchanges. It’s really not in your best interest to put this task off until later.
- Be patient. The days after Christmas are chaotic for retailers and fellow shoppers. Be pleasant to other shoppers and sales staff, who have undoubtedly been putting in long, exhausting hours throughout the holiday season.
- Don’t expect cash back. This isn’t a time to haggle with the sales staff and ask them to make an exception for you, especially when there’s a long line of other shoppers waiting behind you.
- Remember to smile. A pleasant smile and friendly tone of voice will make the return or exchange situation much more bearable.
- It’s the thought that counts. Even if you are unable to return or exchange an item that you cannot use, keep in mind the gesture of goodwill. Someone thought enough of you to make the effort. Don’t forget to thank them for their kindness.