The holiday season is rife with merriment and gift-giving. Shoppers flock to stores in an effort to find the ideal gifts for everyone on their lists. While shoppers hope the presents they select will be well-liked, many know that not every gift will be the perfect fit. It’s in shoppers’ best interests to familiarize themselves with store return policies to avoid being stuck with unwanted purchases or losing money on exchanges. Knowledge of store policies also is useful information to pass on to gift recipients, so that they will be able to realize the full benefit of their gifts should something need to be replaced. Shoppers who anticipate a loved one returning their gift would be wise to always include a gift receipt with gifts. Some stores offer only store credit to people who return gifts without receipts, while others may not allow non-receipt returns at all. In addition, some retailers only offer non-receipt refunds that are equivalent to the lowest recent sale price. Consumers can arm themselves with this information and take a proactive approach to holiday shopping. • Visit the customer service desk and ask for the complete return and exchange policy. Study the policy to understand how exchanges or refunds are handled. • Think about purchases before making them, which may cut down on the number of exchanges or returns necessary. • Keep all receipts in a safe place. Opt for emailed receipts whenever possible, as such receipts may be easier to catalog and less likely to go missing. • Ask for gift receipts if you are uncertain if the gift recipient will like the gift or you aren’t sure on sizing or fit. Attach this receipt to a tag so it does not get lost during wrapping. • Visit the return desk during off-peak hours, such as dinnertime or early in the morning, when employees will be less harried and better able to work with you on facilitating exchanges. • Make purchases on store credit cards or other credit cards. Doing so may make the purchases easier to track if the receipt goes missing. • Shop at retailers with notoriously good return policies. Money magazine and GOBankingRates say that Nordstrom; L.L. Bean; Bed, Bath & Beyond; JC Penney; and Costco have the most generous return policies. Returns and exchanges are a part of holiday giving. Consumers who educate themselves on stores’ return policies can make the holiday season easier for themselves and their loved ones.