Christmas may be a time for giving but it is also a time for receiving - often unwanted - gifts. With a little over a month left until the highlight of the festive season independent consumer watchdog Which? has some advice for consumers wanting to take back those goods that just aren't wanted.

Though based in the United Kingdom, consumer watchdog Which?'s advice for returning goods is more based around common sense than regional legal differences and is applicable to recipients of unwanted gifts around the world.  

Which?'s top five tips for returning goods are:

1. Always read the retailer's return policy
Be sure to check what rules apply to returning your intended gift before you purchase it; many shops offer exchanges or refunds but the return policies can be as strict as the retailer wishes.

2. Be sure to keep the receipt
Receipts act as a proof of purchase and possession of the relevant receipt can make the process of returning gifts a lot easier for the recipient of the unwanted goods.

3. Check postage and packaging
When shopping online or from a catalogue be sure to check who pays for the postage and packaging in case the purchase needs to be returned. Generally the rule is "if they don't say, you don't pay" but this may vary from country to country.

4. Not all goods are refundable
Remember when shopping, even online, that not all goods are refundable. Refunds maybe refused on items such as DVDs, CDS or computer games if they are no longer sealed in their plastic wrapping. It is also very difficult to get a refund on fresh items, such as flowers or items that have been personalized for the recipient.

5. Know your rights
Most purchases, however they were made, are subject to a "cooling off" period which expires seven days after receiving your goods; during this time you are free to cancel your order. However, before ordering or returning any items consumers are advised to research their rights and be confident about invoking them.

Other solutions for disposing of unwanted Christmas gifts include donating them to local charities or "regifting" - passing on unwanted gifts to others. Tips and etiquette advice on re-gifting can be found at and