I Never Return Gifts — Here’s How I Avoid It Every Year


I love stuff. Some of my earliest memories are of me begging my mom to take me to the nearest mall and showing my first grade teacher my latest shopping finds, and honestly, that lifelong obsession with owning new things has shaped me into who I am today. I landed a job as a shopping news editor, after all, so you can't say it hasn't paid off. But I digress. Though it's certainly helped propel my career, it's also helped enormously in other ways, too — especially when it comes to avoiding unwanted gifts for the holidays. And while those two points might not seem related just yet, hear me out.

While I probably just made it sound like I buy everything I want, that's definitely not the case. I certainly would if I could, but as a New Yorker with a paycheck that goes mainly to my sky-high rent, I'm not left with much in the way of spending money each month. Which means that when the holidays roll around, I have a list of everything I've been lusting over since last December. And since I literally do nothing but shop and read about shopping every day, you better believe it's long.

I wouldn't describe myself as a decisive person, per se, but (thanks to a lifetime of nonstop shopping) when it comes to what I want, I know. Because of that, it pains me to think of someone I know spending their time and money on giving me a gift I can't use since there are so many other things I'd love to have.

Plus, I'm a picky person with a very distinct style (aren't we all?), so everyone who knows me is well aware that finding something I'll like without asking me is a fruitless effort that will only result in a gift that will sit around collecting dust in my apartment forever. So after years of that happening, I successfully came up with a way of saving everyone some trouble, every single year. I make a wishlist.

You may think wishlists are pointless, or maybe they even make you uncomfortable — and I get it. While I've never been one to shy away from putting together a list of everything I'm dreaming of at any given moment for myself, I've always been apprehensive about sharing it. I'm here to argue, though, that sharing your wishlist is better for everyone.

If you're anything like me, you hate returning anything — but especially gifts. Regular returns are bad enough; you either have to wait in line in a store or a post office where everyone is mad about something. Add gifts into the equation (especially if you don't have a receipt) and it gets even worse.

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And regardless of the situation, the environment is, of course, something to consider as well. A UPS press release from December 2017 stated that it expected 1.4 million packages to be returned on Jan. 3, 2018, which was an eight percent growth from the previous year. In fact, there are so many returns following Christmas, UPS dubbed it a holiday — UPS National Returns Day. Which means that getting a bunch of presents you don't want contributes to the millions of wasted boxes and plastic that could easily be avoided.

Still unsure about telling others what you want for the holidays? It can actually be easier — and much less awkward — than you think. My solution? Pinterest.

It's that simple — I just create a public board that anyone with an account can access. The beauty of this is that you can pin things directly from whatever website you're shopping on, so anyone who looks at the board will have direct links to exactly what you want. I also update the descriptions of products with sizes or multiple colors so that anyone looking doesn't have to guess (I made the board so that I don't have to return things, after all).


Though I just waxed poetic about how unashamed I am of making sure I get what I want, I still personally feel weird sometimes about blasting a link to my Pinterest Christmas board out to my friends and family. So, instead of doing that, I told my mom when I first made the board, because she requests a list from me every year anyway. Now, she knows to go straight to that every year when she starts shopping for gifts — and when everyone in the family inevitably starts asking her what I want, she knows exactly what to say.

I like stuff, but I love the holidays for many more reasons than that. It provides time with family, even more opportunity to give back, and it's all about showing love to those around you. It's not about getting presents for me, but that does happen to be a part of this time of year for my own family and friends. While I care about much, much more than just what I receive, I'm of the belief that making it easier for everyone to find the perfect gift can take some unnecessary stress out of everyone's life — your family's, your own, and even your overworked mail men and women. Plus, if you love to shop, it's also just really fun.

Not sure where to start? Continue scrolling for a list of ideas to kick off your wishlist. After all, there's always the chance that you'll get some belated gifts — and anyway, next Christmas is only 12 months away.