What you need to know about returning gifts after Christmas

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It can be hard to find the perfect gift.

Beth Kaufka of Portland is usually able to pick out what her kids like, but the adults in her gift-giving circle can be more difficult to buy for.

"Santa spends a lot of time thinking about them," Kaufka said about her kids. "And then everybody else is like, 'Oh, no!' Other things are just a battle. I have no idea what to do."

She is not the only one guessing on presents and possibly missing the mark. Various reports say more than a third of people return gifts after Christmas.

Here are things to remember to make your holiday returns more efficient and less painful:

  • Don't open the plastic wrap if the present is something you might not want. It could save you a 15 percent restocking fee.
  • If you open it, save the box and the packing materials inside. Stores need the box and materials to send the item back to the manufacturer.
  • Look for the gift receipt before you toss the wrapping paper aside. Many gift-givers tuck the receipt in your gift box or tissue.
  • Check the return policy right away. Some places give you a very short window, like until January 15. shows return policies for a number of stores.
  • Returns online gifts as soon as possible. Some websites have stricter policies than stores.
  • See if you can avoid long waits in the stores by returning items on a weekday instead of a weekend.