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How to Give Presents that Won't Be Returned After the Holidays

As hard as we try, not all gifts are successful—and we rarely figure out who we disappointed. According to a recent poll by Western Union, 75 percent of Americans admitted to gushing over a present they actually hated.

As for the fate of these unwanted things? Another study, done by Consumer Reports, shows that 18 percent of people donate the items to charity, 15 percent re-gifted, 11 percent returned the item or threw in the trash and six percent attempted to re-sell. An especially gutsy 2 percent just gave back the undesirable goods and the same amount displayed bad gifts online for other people to ridicule. (Ouch.)

While it's impossible to completely sidestep a failed present, there are certain pitfalls to avoid when purchasing for a persnickety person. Last January, research conducted by MarketTools proved that about 62 percent of gifted clothing and shoes will be returned, followed by toys/games (16 percent) and consumer electronics (14 percent). So unless you know your recipient exponentially well or are buying something directly off of a wishlist, try to avoid these categories. Safer bets include beauty items, jewelry and watches—only 10 percent will be rejected.

These statistics can be daunting, so remember, it really is the thought that counts. Put time and care into your choices and your loved ones will notice. (Which means nothing will be posted to a snarky message board.) Check out our complete gift buying coverage here; we have multiple ideas for ever type of personality and taste. Or, go for the gift of guilt-free shopping—a voucher for their favorite store.

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