Finding out a loved one wants to return one of your gifts can feel like a dagger through the heart, but it's really not that big of a deal.
You know the scenario.
There's a special occasion coming up and you want to make it extra special for a loved one by getting them an awesome gift.
So, you put tons of time, thought, and effort into finding something you think they'll love and enjoy.
However, when you give it to them it doesn't get the reaction you were hoping for.
Instead you notice their face drop and eyes glaze over when they see what it is, before regrouping and putting on an Oscar-worthy show of gratitude.
So, it's no surprise to you when they sheepishly call the following day to ask if they can return or exchange it.
But your heart still breaks as you feel like you've let them down.
And you scold yourself for being such a terrible friend, relative, and person.
However, you really shouldn't give yourself such a hard time and let a returned gift upset you.
As there's probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for it which has nothing to do with you or your gift buying skills.
Here Are Some Reasons Why They Might Be Returning Your Gift
Your mind can start to race when someone returns or refuses to accept a gift you've given them.
And you slowly drive yourself crazy wondering what you've done wrong and worry that you may have upset them.
But you have to realise that this doesn't necessarily mean they hate your gift, or dislike you, or that you're a terrible gift buyer.
As lots of times they will have a valid reason for not wanting to accept it which may or may not have something to do with you or your gift choice.
However, frustratingly they probably won't tell you this reason up front, as they will be afraid of hurting your feelings and will want to avoid any confrontation.
Which means you'll have to work it out for yourself if you want some closure and to regain some peace of mind.
So, here's a list of possible reasons someone will return a gift to help you do just that.
It doesn't fit them
If you choose to buy people clothes or footwear as a gift then you run a high risk of getting the wrong size.
As each person has their own desired fit and every brand has sizes that run a little differently.
So, while they may like your choice of gift, if it doesn't fit them then they'll have no choice but to return or exchange it.
It doesn't suit their style or tastes
We all have different tastes and our own style, whether that be for our wardrobes, our homes, or the kinds of music, movies, food, and drink we're into.
Which means even though in your mind you've picked them out something wonderful, maybe they just won't dig it.
So, don't beat yourself up about it.
As this is a very common reason for returning gift items and it's not really your fault.
They already have one
You could have absolutely aced the gift buying process and got them a gift they've been wanting and craving for months.
However, if unbeknownst to you they've already treated themselves to the exact same item a few weeks beforehand, then your gift is going to be useless to them.
So, returning it or exchanging it for something else is the only sensible option.
They don't think they'll use it
Sometimes you can give someone a really thoughtful and respectable gift but it can still be wrong.
Because if it's something that the recipient feels they won't use very often then they'll feel bad about accepting it.
As they won't want you to waste your money on something that's going to sit in the back of their closet for the most part.
So, it makes sense if they want to swap it for something they'll get more use out of instead.
There's a better version of it that they'd prefer
This one happens a lot when you buy a loved one a gift relating to one of their hobbies or passions.
As even though this is a noble gift buying attempt on your part, there's a very low chance that you're going to pick out the exact item they want or need.
So, let them return it and get the one they really want instead.
As they'll still give you plenty of credit for being so thoughtful in the first place.
They feel guilty about accepting it
If you buy someone an overly expensive or extravagant gift you can run into problems.
As the recipient is likely to feel uncomfortable that you spent so much on them, and guilty that they can't afford to return the favour.
While also feeling uneasy that you may be trying to buy their affections by making such a grand gesture.
So, let them return it and choose a more reasonably priced gift instead, as this is a winner for both parties.
They don't want to feel obligated to you
Accepting a gift from someone you don't know that well can be a bit awkward.
As you will then feel obliged to buy them something in return, and some people don't want to get into that situation.
And they may also feel that by accepting your gift they will be obliged to become closer in their relationship to you, which they may not be willing to do.
So, in this case they may return your gift not because it's a bad gift, just that it wasn't really your place to give it to them in the first place.
Your gift is inappropriate and makes them feel uncomfortable
There are some gifts that are inappropriate to give to certain people.
One example is getting sexy underwear for anyone other than your intimate partner.
As this is far too personal and a real invasion of someone's boundaries.
And another example is 'funny' or 'prank' gifts like fart machines or items with crude slogans on.
Because as well as being useless crap, these can easily be misconstrued and taken the wrong way by the recipient.
So, have some respect for other people and don't be a creep, otherwise your gift is likely to be returned pronto.
Your gift causes them to feel ashamed or bad about themselves
Sometimes your good intentions can be misplaced and lack a certain sensitivity.
And this can be the case when you buy someone a gift to help them overcome a problem they may have.
Because unless they've specifically asked for something like this you should avoid doing it.
For example, giving a person who is sensitive about being overweight a set of weighing scales or exercise equipment may seem like a helpful thing to do, but it can leave them feeling awful and inadequate.
While gifting anti-aging cream to someone who is worried about getting older is likely to upset them more than help them.
So, people have every right to return or refuse gifts like this.
Because they won't want to keep hold of things that cause them to feel negatively about themselves.
Your gift was passive aggressive
Have you ever given someone a gift designed to encourage them to change their behaviour, just because that would please you and fit in with your own values?
Because if you have then stop doing so immediately, as they will be able to spot your passive aggressive intentions a mile away.
Some examples of this could include buying your partner a cookware set because you want them to do more in the kitchen, or buying a stay at home mum a business suit because you think they should be out working.
This is both out of order and hurtful to the gift recipient.
So, don't shove your views on opinions onto other people, otherwise they'll have every right to return your gift and tell you to get lost!
Your gift is unsuitable for them
Be honest now, is the gift you've given really a good fit for the person you've given it to?
Because giving Grandma a pair of roller skates, your young nephew a violent video game, or your teetotal Auntie a set of wine glasses is a waste of time.
As it should be obvious that they won't be able to use these gifts and will have to return them.
So, keep your gift choices sensible and relevant or they'll be coming straight back to you.
They're a minimalist and have no room for it
Minimalists pride themselves on only owning the things they truly need to live, survive and thrive in the world.
So, Christmas and birthdays can be really stressful times for them.
As they get loads of stuff they don't want or need thrust onto them and then have the headache of working out how to get rid of all this clutter.
So, the moral of the story is don't give gifts to a minimalist, as it's highly unlikely they'll want to keep them.
Your gift is more for you than it is for them
When you're buying gifts for the people closest to you it's important to get them something that they actually want rather than something you want for yourself.
Because so many people fall into the trap of buying their nearest and dearest something that benefits themselves more than it does them.
And when you're on the receiving end of a gift like this it can feel like the other person has been really selfish and not considered you at all.
So, if you go this route you can either expect your gift to be returned or to receive an equally insensitive gift on your next birthday too.
You bought them a gift even when they asked you not to
When you reach adulthood you pretty much have the ability to get everything you really need by yourself.
So, while the occasional thoughtful gift from a spouse or your children is nice, you don't really need the annual deluge of gifts from extended family and friends.
But no matter how many times you tell people you don't want them to buy you a gift this year, some of them still do.
Because we can feel obligated to buy gifts as a kind of ritual for things like Christmas and birthdays.
So, if you've ignored their warnings and bought them a gift anyway, you can't blame them for returning it straight back to you!
They just don't like what you've given them
OK, sometimes it really is just about your crappy choice of gift.
But we've all got stories of receiving gifts we simply didn't like, want, or need, right?
And if you didn't return them then these unwanted gifts probably ended up in the back of your closet, were re-sold online, re-gifted to someone else, or thrown out in the trash.
So, don't get annoyed or upset when your loved one asks to return your gift, because at least they can then exchange it for something more suitable.
You just need to respect their decision, accept it and move on.
And maybe try a little harder next time!
How To Not Feel Hurt When It Happens
One of the best ways to avoid feeling hurt at a returned gift is to change your attitude and focus when gift giving.
So, instead of putting pressure on yourself and being dependent on the reaction of the person you are giving the gift to, simply enjoy the spirit and sentiment behind what you're doing.
As staying mindful when gift giving will protect you from any feelings of pain and rejection.
Because you give gifts to your friends and family out of love and with the best intentions, so you should feel proud about that.
This way you gain your happiness and satisfaction from the whole giving process and for being altruistic and caring towards your loved ones.
What they do with this gift after you give it to them is completely up to them.
So, if they decide to return it, exchange it, not use it, or re-gift it, then that is their choice and nothing for you to worry about.
And it also helps when you realise just how common a practice returning gifts is.
For instance, a study by Deborah Cohn, an associate professor of marketing at the New York Institute of Technology, found that during the 2013 holiday season as many as 1 in every 3 Americans returned a gift they were given.
And the total estimated cost of these returned gifts?... $262.4 billion!
So, give yourself a break and let it go, because it happens to us all.
What You Can Do To Make Them Feel Less Guilty
Finding out that a loved one has returned or wants to return your gift can hurt your feelings, but it's not an easy situation for them either.
As they will feel really guilty about wanting to do so.
Because even though they don't like what you've given them, they will still appreciate the sentiment and thought behind it.
And the last thing they'll want to do is appear ungrateful and to upset you, which is the risk you run when returning a gift.
So, another act of love is to take this burden away from them.
And there are a couple of things you can do when handing them their gift that will make the whole returning process easier on you both.
For example, you could include the receipt inside the gift box so they can return or exchange it discreetly.
As there's nothing worse than having to ask for the sender it, and this will also allow them to return it without your knowledge too, so you'll never know and won't get hurt by it.
And give them an easy out by saying that you didn't know what to get them, so if they don't like it they can always exchange it for something else.
This way it'll save their guilt at not wanting what you've chosen and you'll save some face too.
And if they do ask to return one of your gifts, simply smile and accept it with grace without letting on that you're disappointed.
Because the whole point of giving them a gift in the first place is to make them feel happy, not guilty and embarrassed.
How You Can Avoid Returned Gifts In Future
The best way to avoid having your gifts returned is to buy your loved ones things that are suitably awesome in the first place.
And the power to do that is completely in your own hands.
As by adopting some good practices when picking out a gift, you can make sure you get the ideal one for your loved ones.
These practices include:
It's basically just about being thoughtful and considerate for the other person, which should be your intentions when buying gifts for your loved ones anyway.
So, take these considerations on board and you'll make returned gifts much less of a possibility in the future.
People wanting to return gifts you've given them is a fact of life, so there's no point getting upset about it.
As there could be a myriad of reasons why they want to do this and these may have nothing to do with you.
So don't let it get you down.
However, I hope after reading through this article you will be more aware of the common gifting mistakes that can lead to returned gifts and some of the ways you can overcome them.
Because becoming better gifters lowers the chance of our gifts being returned in the future.
Allowing you to enjoy the happiness and enjoyment of your loved ones instead.