Gift return etiquette: What's the best way to return unwanted gifts?

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Someone thought enough of you to give you a Christmas present, but the problem is — you hate it. Do you exchange it at the store? Do you re-gift it? What will you tell the gift giver?  I have answers to all of those questions and more. Here is your full-proof guide to handling unwanted presents, including what to say to the gift giver (outside of “thank you”) to avoid hurt feelings and potential awkwardness.

Option 1: Exchanging at the Store
Under no circumstances is it okay to return a gift to a store for cash. That is just plain tacky.  But you can exchange it for something else that suits you better.

What to Say to the Gift Giver:
“I took the [insert gift] back to the store because it had a [insert defect], but they didn’t have anymore *look really sad for this part *, so I got a [insert much cooler gift] instead.”

Option 2: Re-Gifting
Re-gifting can be tough if the gift giver is someone close to you who knows a lot of same people you do. Here’s a rule of thumb: Only re-gift to someone who has never met and is never likely to meet the original gift giver.  That means you can give that terrible secret Santa gift from your co-worker to your cousin who has “eclectic” tastes. And be aware of digital ties. You don’t want your re-gifted gift to somehow end up in the original gifter’s Facebook newsfeed.

What to Say to the Gift Giver:
Just say “thank you” and keep it moving. Do not tell the person you re-gifted!

Option 3: Donating
One great way to get rid of unwanted gifts is to donate them. Find a local charity that takes the kind of items you have and voila. You have the gifts off of your hands a tax write-off to boot. You can even take the extra step and donate to an international organization, if you want to feel fancy.

What to Say to the Gift Giver:
“Gosh, you know me so well! I already have a [insert gift], so I went ahead and donated the one you gave me to [insert awesome charity]. I know that will make someone really happy.”

Option 3: You Might Need to Keep it If…
Sometimes you just have to suck it up. If the well-intentioned gift giver is a close family member or friend who will expect to see you “enjoying” your gift and might have hurt feelings if that is not the case, you just have to keep it. That ugly vase from Aunt Pearl? Stash it in the closet and bring it out every time she comes over. That awful sweater from grandma? Put it on when you go visit her and take it right back off when you get in the car.

And remember, there are worse things in the world than getting unwanted gifts.  Have any funny re-gifting gone wrong stories? Do tell!

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope.