As much as the thought does count, getting something you really want for the holidays is important, too. But before you race out to do battle during the day after Christmas sales, we have a little advice to help make your exchange process go as smoothly as possible.
We asked style expert and "My Body My Style" host Sam Saboura and Kathy Grannis, spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, to offer tips on everything you need to know before braving the mall.
We think Grandma would be happy knowing you're getting a gift you love. Even if it doesn't come with bells.
1. Know the store's return policy.
"Call ahead and find out how long you have to return the item," Saboura says. "Before wasting your time going to the mall the day after Christmas and braving the crazy crowds and the crazy parking, see what the longest possible time is to wait. Most new stuff starts coming in stores in January or early February. So if you're a big fashion person and you want to get a new piece of clothing for the season, you'll want to wait to make your exchange. Failing that, get a store credit. Keep an envelope in your wallet or in your bag for store credit, so you don't lose it, and always check expiration dates on store credit and gift cards -- sometimes they do expire."
2. Keep those receipts.
"One of the most important parts of any return process should be having a receipt or a gift receipt with you when you make a return," Grannis says. "Oftentimes, retailers are forced to be stricter with their returns because they have been taken advantage of so many times by people who actually take things off of their shelves and go straight to the register looking for store credit or a refund. These days, most large retailers don't issue refunds for returns, they give you store credit. So, receipts, whether it's the full-price or a gift receipt, are very important when it comes to guaranteeing a seamless return process."
3. And bring ID.
"Retailers are also beginning to ask shoppers for their IDs more and more," Grannis says. "Identification is another method that helps retailers track criminal returners. Basically, if you know you're going to be returning something during a busy holiday season, patience helps, especially if a retailer asks for identification."
4. Shop on weekday mornings.
"If you're looking for a great deal, shop during the week and shop after first of January," Saboura says. "On the weekends, department stores and malls tend to be really, really messy and they don't have enough staff to maintain the store, so you may be missing out on that great item that's buried under a pile of clothes that no one had time to clean up.
"And start in morning when things are still clean and organized. If you're shopping at the end of the day, the stores are going to be a mess again, especially with sales and people returning stuff."
5. Plan your attack.
"I really like to plot out what my exchange is going to be before I go somewhere," Saboura says. "I would do a little pre-shop online or do a lap at the mall before you end up committing to what you're going to exchange for, because you may be able to get in and out if you know exactly what you're looking for."
6. Leave the tags on.
"Certainly, there are times when you think you may like something, you think it may fit, you take off the tag, and next thing you know, you have to take it back," Grannis says. "Shoppers won't be harassed for keeping the tags separate from the skirt or the blouse or the pair of shoes, but it helps to keep them on. That way, if you do decide you want to return it, there's no problem whatsoever with the merchandise."
7. Shop for accessories!
"During the holidays, when weight is always fluctuating, I say that accessories are always your size," Saboura says. "So that's a wonderful item to exchange for because it's something you can wear right away or wear later and it doesn't depend on whether you gained 10 pounds over the holidays."
8. Be discreet.
"The person that gave you the gift that you're planning on regifting or exchanging, doesn't really need to know you're taking it back," Saboura says. "You don't want to hurt someone's feelings. I think you'd be really surprised at how even the nicest people on earth might be offended that you're returning their gift. ... If you don't have to tell them that you're making an exchange, I would say, don't tell them. And, if it comes up, you can say, 'Oh, it didn't fit. I had to go trade it, but they didn't have one. But I found this great thing that I absolutely love and I've been wearing to death.' Less is more. Don't give out unnecessary information."
Meanwhile, find out what your favorite celebrities are doing for the holidays.