Retailers and returns: How easy is returning the unwanted gift?

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(NBC) - If you're done with your holiday shopping, you're probably anticipating what gifts you'll get on Christmas.

And you also might have to make some decisions about what to do with the gifts that don't fit, you don't want or just don't like.

If you find yourself in that scenario, these are some tips on how to handle gifts that need returning.

This year's survey of holiday shoppers by the National Retail Federation also asked a lot of questions about retailers' return policies.

"One-third of shoppers said it was really important for the store they choose to shop at to have an easy return policy," Consumer Reports' Donna Rosato said.

With that in mind, Rosato and staff at Consumer Reports rated the best and worst return policies at retailers nationwide, finding many willing to make returning as painless as purchasing.

"A lot of companies now do want to make it easier," Rosato said. "They'll give you a free shipping label to send it back if you need to make the return"

That's the case with online as well as in-store purchases. But, she says, consumers also have to be help to make it easier for the store to honor a return.

"What you're going to want to do [is] check the return policy," she said. "The most generous stores give you almost unlimited time. But that's unusual."

Usually, you'll have at least up to 30 days to make a return, which is also easier with a receipt and with gently-opened packaging.

"Some retailers will not want you to return the gift unless it has the original tags and, sometimes, the original packaging," Rosato said.

So, rip open only the gift wrapping, not the gift, until you're sure it's the gift you really want.