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Engagement Party Gift Etiquette: Is It Ever Okay to Return Presents from Friends and Family?

You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but does that mean keeping gifts you don't like?

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Dan Dalton

The etiquette around engagement party gifts is tricky. On one hand, you didn't ask for (or even expect) any celebratory presents; on the other hand, you appreciate the gesture and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. So what do you do when a relative or friend gives you an engagement gift and you're thrilled—until you open the box and see something you'll never use. Your apartment is small, storage is tight, and you're wondering if returning it to the store and getting something you really need is something you can do. Read on to find out.

 

Related: Engagement Party Gifting: What's Appropriate?

 

You didn't register for the gift, so is it rude to return it?

Where's the law that says no one's allowed to give you a present you didn't specifically pick out? Nowhere. Still, you have to wonder why someone wouldn't consult your wish list before buying you a gift. Maybe they didn't realize you'd registered or they were certain you'd love a dozen coffee mugs with the inscription "Love is . . .24/7 caffeine." Rather than shove the gift in the back of a closet, go ahead and return it.

 

Do you have to send thank-you notes?

Of course. A gift is a gift, no matter how horrible, and each one needs to be acknowledged. Just don't go overboard in your note with praise about how much you love the item. After thanking the giver for their thoughtful and generous present, focus on how happy you were that they could be there to celebrate your engagement with you.

 

Will people ask about their gifts?

You mean, what are your chances of the gift-givers finding out you tossed their treasures? Depends on how much they'll stop by your place for a visit. If it's an aunt who gave you a ceramic platter with a turkey motif that you know will notice when it's not out at Thanksgiving dinner, you might want to tread lightly. If, on the other hand, you're pretty certain you'll never have the family over on Turkey Day, your secret is probably safe.