Your wedding has come and gone, your honeymoon is now just a memory, and your bank accounts have seen better days. Fear not: gifts from your registry are on the way. Leave it to your friends and family to outfit a newlywed’s home with all the trappings of married life—you’re going to be awash in new stuff!
But, as nice as that truckload of loot and never-ending parade of Amazon deliveries may be, you might still be left wanting. There are sure to be items on your registry you want, but nobody actually bought. Then there are the registered items you received, but now realize you don’t need or want (multiple pressure cookers, anyone?). If only there was a way to trade one for the other. Boy are you lucky…
When To Return
The simplest solution to the problem of unwanted gifts is to return them for (in order of convenience): cash, store credit, or an exchange. “As long as you send a handwritten note thanking the giver for the item offered, there’s no rule against returning gifts,” says Sharon Schweitzer, etiquette expert and founder of Access to Culture. “Just use discretion and judgment, and don’t share this information with others.”
Savvy gift-givers will include gift receipts, so you can easily return items for their purchase prices. Lacking the receipts, you can use your online registry to determine where the gifts came from, and then you can likely return them to a brick-and-mortar location or via USPS for store credit. If all else fails, eBay or donate them to charity—then write the donation off on your taxes.
Ideally, you’ll get enough scratch to make a large purchase you might have been too embarrassed to include on the registry in the first place. Hello, 80-inch 4K TV!
When Not To Return
Sending back the second and third SodaStreams you received is unlikely to get you in trouble with any visiting family members, but don’t let go of anything with significant meaning attached. Customized items such as monogrammed towels, works of art, or family heirlooms show that extra thought went into the gift—and certainly more effort than a few clicks of a mouse.
“There’s nothing more awkward than explaining to the visiting gifter why those towels are absent from your home or that you ‘misplaced’ the art or decor they chose especially for you,” Schweitzer says.
And that’s to say nothing of the difficulty in returning one-of-a-kind items.
When To Cash Out
Now that you’ve decided what you don’t need, it’s time to go get the things that you want. Buying un-purchased items from your registry is a good start, but don’t rush into it—the people on your invite list may still be planning on buying you something. Many of your guests could mistakenly believe that they have until your first wedding anniversary to get you a gift. (“They have just three months,” Schweitzer says.)
Still, you may want to start purchasing your must-haves—the fourth set of the dinnerware collection, the washcloth that matches the towels, etc.—sooner than later to avoid items being discontinued or out-of-stock. Other like-to-haves can wait, at least for a couple months.
When you do buy something off your own registry, be sure to mark it as purchased (or let the store know) to avoid getting dupes.
When To Ask For Cash in the First Place
If you’ve not yet created a wedding registry, maybe don’t. Consider a honeymoon or house fund for the upcoming expenses of your new life. If you go this route, be sure to advise wedding guests where the money will go.
Just be prepared for a random rabbit-shaped casserole dish from that aunt who just insists on buying you two something elegant for your home.