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One of the biggest dilemmas couples face after getting married is what to do with a gift that isn't quite right. I mean, your Aunt Velma put a lot of thought, time, and consideration into the lava lamp she got you. But in your eyes it just doesn't fit in with the rest of your home, and you'd much rather have a nice set of place mats for your dining room table. Should you return the lava lamp for place mats? How do you do it without letting Aunt Velma know?

Should you return a gift?

You certainly can go ahead and return a gift, as long as it is the store's policy to accept returns or exchanges. But, yes, it does put you in the awkward position of finding a way to tell your friend or family member that you didn't like the gift, but found something better. If you would rather not be put in that position, go ahead and keep the gift. But it may not be the wisest decision.

When should you return a gift?

Here's something to consider when thinking about returning gifts. It's normally customary for the new couple to display their shower gifts in their home in the weeks leading up to the wedding. These are the weeks when people who are important in your lives will visit and check out your place and look for the gifts they gave you. They'll even likely ask you what you think of the gift. You definitely want to keep the gifts around at least that long.

Another thing to consider–for gifts you receive at your wedding reception–is that wedding attendees may very well come visit you within the first month after you've moved in. This is another time when you need to be sure to have your gifts proudly displayed in their proper location.

After about a month, your guests will have the newness of your marriage and their gifts somewhat out of your mind–you hope. And then you can feel fairly comfortable that you can go exchange that lava lamp for the place mats you wanted.

Keep in mind that there will still be a chance Aunt Velma will come over and want to know where you put the lovely lava lamp she so graciously gave you. At that point you'll have to sensitively explain to her that while you liked the gift, you were thinking of something more practical.