“Why did he/she return my gift? Help!”

Did someone return your gift from you? To be honest, returned gifts are not that uncommon, so you are definitely not alone! It is normal to be a little bit hurt, but try not to take it too personally.

So, the burning question: Why did they return your gift? Here are some common ethical and social reasons why someone would turn down a gift:

Because of Workplace Policy

This is probably the most common reason why someone would return your present. Most companies have a rule against receiving gifts, being an avenue for bribery. If a professional graciously refuses your gift, do not take it personally.

Are you a client who would love to express appreciation for good service? Are you an employee whose ass was just saved by a co-worker or a boss? Avoid personal gifts. You can express your gratitude by giving them food they can share with their workmates, small gifts for all the staff, like keychains or office supplies (like pens, stationery, and cute office gadgets).

Because of Romantic Intentions They Cannot Return

Another common reason to return a present is if the gift was given with romantic intentions and the recipient feels that they cannot return the love back.

Flowers are commonly given back due to this reason. Boys, please do not lose hope! It may sound dumb right now, but there will come a time a lady would love to receive flowers from you. But right now… that bunch of flowers returned to you? Do not throw those in the trash. Go to your nearest nursing home and donate the lovely blooms. The elderly will appreciate cheery flowers.

It Was Too Expensive for Them

This will probably not be a problem if the recipient is your spouse, child, or parent. However, someone who is not your family will probably be uncomfortable receiving a gift that obviously has a large price tag.

Common examples of “too expensive gifts” are furniture, gadgets, cars, and *gasp* a house. Avoid gifting these when your giftee is not a close relative. That includes the person you are dating unless you are giving a ring to propose.

Too Much More Than What Was Expected of You

This is the cousin of the reason before this. If you are just an acquaintance the recipient barely knows, you are not expected to give a gift albeit an expensive one. If you are just a +1 to an event, maybe it would be best to stick to inexpensive gifts.

For example, you just tagged along with a birthday party of a person you barely even know. A sweet card will do. They will probably return that $300 coffee maker.

Because It Was Not a Good Match

We should always cater our gifts to the recipient. Always. That is the main rule of gift-giving. You probably gifted something that the recipient does not see using in the future. Remember, you should give a gift they would want, not what you would want for them!

For example, is a set of gardening tools given to someone who hates gardening and lives in a tight apartment. As a side note, things like this are probably not the best reason why a person returns a present, but this happens. They can always recycle a gift, right?

Another example is giving a pork dish to a Jewish family. It is in their belief that they should only eat kosher food and pork is not kosher. They will return your pork roast even if it smells amazing to you.

They Really Want It

It is Just in Their Culture to Refuse Gifts at First.

Many foreign cultures, like the Chinese and Japanese, will refuse your gift around three times before accepting it because for them it implies greed if they agree to take the present immediately. Imagine the internal disappointment of the person if you walked away!

If gifting to a different culture, be sure to check their traditions first. (We have a special section for gifting traditions around the world.)