The holidays are finally behind us -- and if you are like us, that means trash full of wrapping paper and a whole lot of gifts you'd like to upgrade.
In fact, according to Consumer Reports, one in five people are taking back a gift this season. Sound Scrooge-like? Not really -- it's avoiding your own Nightmare AFTER Christmas, and here's how to get started:
Don't use the gift
If you don't want the gift, don't wear it, tear the tags off it or leave it in your trunk next to a spare gas can for three months. Return it in the same condition you received it to experience the least amount of hassle.
Research return policies
Before simply assuming that the store will welcome your gift back with open arms, set proper expectations. Consumer Reports created this rundown of return policies for eight big retailers including Amazon, Sears and Toys R Us. Most retailers also post their return policies online.
Visit store during off-peak hours
We'd think working in retail during the holidays is exhausting. Hitting a store's customer service counter during off-peak hours will increase your chances of encountering a well-rested, non-bitter employee who wants to help you with your dilemma. In other words, avoid weekend afternoons if at all possible.
Consider a different retailer
Shop (and return!) smartly: If the item you're trying to return is sold at several stores, try heading to the retailer with the most lenient return policy first. However, let's say you got a DVD player, but what you really want is a Blu-ray player. If both models are sold at Walmart, head there first. Often exchanges are easier to negotiate than returning an item for cash.
Choose a store you like
If you have a choice as to where to return your unwanted present, you may want to go to the store you like best. That way if you get saddled with a gift card instead of cash you may actually be able to find something useful to spend it on.
Sometimes returning gifts is impossible and it's not your fault -- you can blame the giver. If the item is out of its original packaging or there's no gift receipt in sight, no matter how much you detest the gift, you may be stuck with it. Don't let it taint your holiday spirit. Instead, consider donating the item or selling it on eBay. It may require more work, but hopefully you'll still end up with a gift you prefer.
More on returning those gifts