Face it, gift giving is hard. Sure, there might be a few people on your list who are easy to shop for, but for the most part you’re rolling the dice when deciding what to buy. Add in the time and effort it takes to shop, wrap and deliver your gifts, and it’s no wonder that many people find themselves stressed during the month of December. Unfortunately, chances are that your carefully chosen gifts are going right back to the store. Shoppers return nearly $70 billion of purchases during the holiday season. Yes, you read that right. Seventy billion-with-a-b dollars! However, with a bit of planning, you can avoid some of the most commonly returned gifts from your shopping list.
According to a study conducted by Kohl’s, clothing/shoes are by far the most returned gift category, and makes up a full “62% of all returns.” This makes sense as fit differs from brand to brand, plus it’s near to impossible to truly know another person’s clothing style. Steer clear of this category if you you’re hoping that your gift will be received joyfully.
Most of us enjoy creating home spaces that reflect our individual aesthetic. But when well meaning friends and family decide that our home needs multiple sparkly pillows or moose theme artwork, it comes a problem. Avoid decor gifts, especially quirky ones that Newsweek points out are “most likely to go awry.”
Candles are such a quintessentially uninspired gift, that Saturday Night Live recently produced a hilarious video titled The Christmas Candle, featuring fur clad actresses who sing about how “It’s the gift of having a gift to give away.” When you take into consideration that candle burning has been linked to multiple health issues, it’s best to keep a hundred yard distance from this clichéd gift.
So what gifts are least likely to be returned? That’s a hard one as The Daily Mail has reported that as much as “42% of women return their husband’s holiday gifts.” However, these ideas should please most recipients!
Whether you’re giving home baked goods or a restaurant gift certificate, everybody loves food. National chains sell gift cards which work well for far flung family, and it can be nice to support local establishments for your in-town friends. Wine, gourmet goodies and other fancy treats fit in with most everyone’s style. Just make sure to be aware of any dietary restrictions.
We’re all fighting against the monster called clutter, which make experiential gifts perfect for friends with limited space or those who already own everything they could ever possibly want or need. Great examples include:
- Movie or theater tickets.
- Museum or zoo memberships.
- Tickets to a concert, lecture or sporting event.
- A gift certificate for pampering.
- Tunes gift card.
Gifts cards get a bad rap as a lazy or thoughtless gift, but with a bit of extra effort they can be a truly welcome gift that’s sure to be redeemed. Instead of a general gift card such as Target or Amazon, choose a place that shows you’ve given thought to your recipient’s interests. Examples include:
- Independent bookstore.
- Favorite restaurant.
- Video gaming store.
- A local toy store.
- Coffee shop.
You might feel like a character from The Sopranos when choosing cash as a gift, but at least you know that it’s 100% unlikely to be returned. (Luckily, there are ways to give money than behind The Bada-Bing.) One fun way to elevate gifted cash is to fold it into fun shapes, like these stars. I folded $100 into stars for my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah a few years ago, which was much more of a hit than any check would have been. YouTube is full of tutorials on how to fold money, which can be a very fun activity. Just make sure to stop by the bank for crisp new bills.
You’d think that the cycle of gift giving would be complete on December 26th, but that’s far from the truth as studies have shown that “17 percent of recipients planned to donate an unwanted present, 13 percent planned to regift one and 10 percent would simply throw the bad gift away.” However, with a bit of forethought you can avoid burdening your loved ones with the most commonly returned gifts.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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