The sweater didn’t fit right, the color was all wrong. You already have a singing bass on a plaque and the “Puppies in a Basket” throw pillow—gifts received and much appreciated—are not quite right in your mid-century modern pad.

For whatever reason, if you need to return a gift, follow these simple tips to make sure all your returns are happy. 

Gift-return-line-in-Retail-Store

Try to get the receipt

Things will go more smoothly if you can get the gift receipt from the giver. 

Act immediately

Sure the singing bass cost $98 before Christmas, but if it’s marked down to $8.13, assume that’s the amount you’ll get in return. 

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According to a survey by the folks over at WalletHub, gift cards were one of the most highly desirable gifts this holiday season. If you were the recipient of your most desired gift—a gift card to your favorite retailer or service, that’s fantastic!  

Gift-card-gifts-aimed-at-moms-dads-children-teenagers etc

But sometimes a gift card doesn’t quite hit the mark, making its way to the back of a wallet, the bottom of a drawer or—gasp!—hopelessly lost in all the spent gift wrap and ribbon that was hauled to the trash.

Consumers spend more than $130 billion on gift cards per year—and roughly $1 billion goes unspent. Every year! Believe it. It’s as absolutely true as it is mind-boggling.

If you got a gift card from a store you’ve never heard of or one you’ll most likely never use—you may be wondering if there’s a way you can exchange it for cash. 

Good news. There is. And not only that new gift card. You may be able to get cash for other gift cards you’ve been collecting—even the ones that you’ve used but still have a decent balance remaining. Read more

Even if you aren’t one, chances are pretty good you know someone who is a bona fide coffee snob. That’s because unmitigated devotion to coffee has reached epic proportions in the past few years.

For these folks, nothing says “I care” more than a gift that affirms said snobbery and love for truly great coffee. I can pretty much guarantee that any one of these coffee-related gifts will rack up some major love and respect in return. 

 

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With Amazon Prime on our side, there’s still time to get those last-minute gifts before Christmas.

(Hint: You can start your 30-day free trial today, reap all the benefits and cancel once the trial is over. Easy and ethical.)

By way of full disclosure, I will admit to being a home roaster, which does earn me a certain level of coffee snobbery. I purchase green coffee beans directly from the La Minita Plantation in Costa Rica and roast those beans one pound at a time.

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It wasn’t that big of a deal, really. Still, I felt a twinge of sadness whenever I thought about it because it’s something I really liked a lot.

I made the small zippered pouch, all by hand—every last stitch. I wouldn’t call it a work of art, although I was quite proud of the clever piecing and homespun appearance.

Handmade-Zippered-Pouch

I filled the little pouch with my most prized hand sewing supplies:

  • Tiny gold scissors in the shape of a stork that were so sharp they cut perfectly all the way to the end of the beak.
  • The only thimble I’ve ever found that fit perfectly.
  • A small magnetic needle holder filled with the finest German stainless steel sharps in a variety of sizes.
  • A tiny container of appliqué pins
  • And two spools of thread just the right size and shape to fill the remaining space in the sewing kit.

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Whether it’s something from your kitchen, craft room, woodworking shop, or computer, there’s nothing like a homemade gift. A tree ornament, plate of cookies, box of fudge, note cards—these are just some of the homemade gifts with universal appeal.

I love homemade gifts both to give and receive. No wonder I have so many favorites!

Homemade-christmas-gift-of-cookies

Hand and Body Lotion

A jar of your own signature luxury hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It’s that good. Not particularly crafty? No worries.

If you can assemble, empty, stir and mix well, you’ve got what it takes to make dozens of these gifts start to finish in a single evening.

 

And the best part? About $3.50 per gift, depending on where you buy the ingredients and containers.

I have created a photo tutorial at A Homemade Gift You’d Actually Love to Receive with all of the step-by-step instructions and specifics on the ingredients and where to get them.

Believe me when I say this is the gift your recipient(s) will rave about. It’s that awesome!

Shaving Cream

Seriously. Quite similar in process to the lotion above, you can make a big batch in one evening.

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It happened in front of all my friends at a bridal shower for me, the next bride-to-be in our circle of friends. I opened the gift of lovely Pyrex mixing bowls, pulled them out of the box to admire the cool colors, only to have a gift card fall into my lap, lovingly addressed to someone who was not me.

re-gift-tag

With the original giftee sitting not five feet away, I did some really bad version of sleight of hand, hoping no one would notice.

All these years later, it doesn’t matter—honestly, it never did. I loved the bowls. Still, that awkward moment re-plays in my mind every time I see her. Which brings me to my Official Rules of Re-gifting:

1. Never admit to re-gifting

If your friends know you’re a re-gifter, you’ll find yourself in the unpleasant situation of explaining why re-gifting is different from not caring. Worse, they will be suspicious of the gifts you give them. It’s best to keep re-gifting completely to yourself.

2. Designate a location

Keep re-gifts in a convenient, albeit secret, place in a special box or cupboard with extra wrapping paper and ribbon. Some people shop for gifts in department stores. Never underestimate the utility of a gift stash that allows you to shop at home.

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It’s here … the biggest gift-giving season of the year which kicked off with Black Friday,

One news site referred to yesterday as “Season’s Beatings!” That just breaks my heart when I consider what gift-giving is really all about—what a pleasant and joyful thing it should be—not retail chaos.

Today, with Black Friday in the rearview mirror and Cyber Monday right ahead, I’m releasing below the first of seven Holiday Gifts Guides 2018 that I have compiled for you. Maybe this will help to ease the stress.

I’m a practical gift giver, and I’m sure this year’s Guides will reflect that. I love thinking about the ways my recipient can use a gift—every single day, if at all possible. And it’s a big bonus if I can come up with something my giftees would not buy for themselves. And if I can pull off a big surprise, that’s the icing on the cake. Or maybe I should say the star on the tree!

Today’s Holiday Gift Guide features things that have made my life better in the past year. I’m calling it Mary’s Favorite Things. Then watch for Guides for Her, Him, Seniors, Foodies, Kids of all ages, and one for Anyone.

Note: Prices mentioned below are only approximations, as prices can change quickly. Please make your own independent verification.

I hope you have as much fun checking out this year’s Gift Guides as I’ve had creating them.

Happy shopping and stay safe out there!

marys-favorite-things

 

1. BLACK+DECKER Steam Iron

This is one amazing steam iron for the money. It gives me great results. It is comfortable to use and has enough heft to give a good press. The high steam rate blasts away wrinkles. Auto shutoff has saved my bacon on a couple of occasions.

2. Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker

This portable wireless speaker for iPhone, Samsung and more is just fantastic. It has 24-hour playtime, 66-ft Bluetooth Range (which I test to its limits frequently) plus a built-in mic. And the sound quality is amazing. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got along without a quality, affordable wireless speaker like this one.

3. Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt

It’s the most amazing thing—one kitchen appliance that replaces seven. That’s why it’s called Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt 7-in-1. The manufacturer has come out with bigger models that do more things, but this is the one I have, love and am certain that it is all I need. Right now the price is also super.

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Gifting friends, family, co-workers teachers and others with a jar of your own signature luxury hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It’s that good. And what better time than this weekend to get a head start on Christmas gifts.

Not particularly crafty? No worries. If you can assemble, empty, stir and mix well, you’ve got what it takes to make dozens of these gifts start to finish in a single evening. And the best part? About $3.50 per gift, depending on where you buy the ingredients and containers.

Here’s the routine: Purchase the specific ingredients, mix them together, divide between your choice of small containers, apply a label or gift tag, embellish with a ribbon and there you go. Done and in no time flat.

To make this lovely hand and body lotion you’ll need:

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