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5 Tips for Returning Holiday Gifts

Aunt Alice forgot that scented bath products give you migraines, and your niece is suddenly boycotting Peppa Pig. Undoubtedly, you’ll have some returns to make this holiday season. Here are some tips to minimize the hassle and get the most out of your gifts.

  1. Read the fine print: Fortunately, many retailors extend their return deadlines around the holidays. Amazon and Macy’s will allow returns until January 31st for orders placed between November 1st and December 31st. Other stores aren’t so generous. Even those with liberal return policies, including Costco and JCPenny, impose restrictions on major purchases such as furniture, electronics, or jewelry.


  1. Use mobile apps: Returnguru allows you to photograph your receipts and will automatically remind you of the return deadlines. Slice will store your email receipts and provide links to return policies and customer service numbers. It even tracks your packages and alerts you when the price drops on a recent purchase. You’ll need to give the app access to your email account, so consider dedicating an email address for purchases. Check out Raise if you’re interested in selling unwanted gift cards.


  1. Stay Calm: Some retailers don’t accept mailed returns or cover shipping. If you must visit a store, avoid rush hours (evenings and weekends), leave the kids with a babysitter, and have a good attitude. Bring a protein bar to keep your energy up and some headphones for listening to music while waiting in line.
  2. Come Prepared: You’ll be most successful with the original packaging and proof of purchase. If you have a gift receipt, expect to get store credit rather than cash back. Don’t forget your ID, as some stores need to verify that you’re not a serial returner.


  1. Wait for sales: After Christmas, you can expect good deals on winter merchandise like sweaters, and of course, holiday items. Mark your calendar for the Nordstrom half-yearly sale from December 26th through January 3rd.

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