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Nagasaki I, 2008
              From the series Cities
Nagasaki I, 2008 From the series Cities
Sze Tsung Leong—Yossi Milo Gallery

Hoping to trade in those awful bunny slippers Aunt Gertrude gave you in December?

Get in line: Forty percent of higher-earning gift recipients returned a present last holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation (the national average was 35%).

Here's how to rid yourself of the stuff that Santa got wrong:

Move quickly. Race back to the store with unwanted consumer electronics, says retail analyst Stacey Widlitz.

Related: Your gym membership is wasting your money

Gadgets turn obsolete quickly, so stores have trimmed return times for those items in recent years (Target, for one, in September). Feel free to tear off the wrapping -- but for full credit, leave the box sealed.

Recycle plastic. Turn gift cards from stores you dislike into cash at or

The size of your payoff depends on a store's popularity: You could recently get 92% of the value on a Wal-Mart card, but only 60% for one from H&M.

Regift without guilt. An American Express survey found that 79% of people support holiday regifting.

"We are obligated not to be wasteful," says Bruce Weinstein, author of Ethical Intelligence.

But recycle that gift discreetly: "Give it to someone in another town," he says, "or better yet, another country."


Carry new bills. Limit post-holiday purchases by carrying crisp, clean currency. A new study in Journal of Consumer Research found that people spend more when the paper money they hold is old and worn.


Pay in Lincolns. People tend to spend more freely, studies have found, when they have small-denomination bills. You're more likely to put the brakes on your buying if you have to break a Benjamin.