At some point, most people have probably received a gift that they either didn't want or didn't need. Whether it was a sweater in a color that was completely wrong for the complexion or a painting that clashed with the receiver's home décor, deciding what to do with an inappropriate gift is often a concern. For many people, however, the preferred option is to return or exchange a gift that has missed the mark.
The answer to whether it is wrong to exchange a gift depends on who is asked. There will always be traditionalists who feel that a gift given as a token of affection or appreciation should be kept, regardless of whether or not the item is needed or wanted by the recipient. It's hard to argue, however, that it would be morally wrong to exchange a dress that's two sizes too small or return a duplicate copy of a book that is already owned for the bestseller the receiver has been dying to read. Additionally, if the person who gave the gift has enclosed a gift receipt, it's safe to say that he or she won't mind if the gift is exchanged for something better suited to the receiver's tastes. Of course, if hurt feelings are a concern, the receiver could always ask the giver what he or she would prefer that you do with the gift.
Before returning or exchanging a gift, it's best to contact the store to ask about its policies in advance. Some stores only allow returns or exchanges with a receipt. Others require that all returns and exchanges be made within a specific time period, such as 90 days after the initial purchase. Typically, people have an easier time if they are hoping to exchange a gift for a similar item or store credit. Getting a cash refund for a gift is more often a difficult task.
Since many stores have tightened their policies for customers who want to return or exchange gifts, the practice of "regifting" is becoming increasingly common. Giving a gift one person received to someone who he or she thinks would more appreciate the item can be a great way to make the most of unwanted or unneeded presents when it's impossible to exchange a gift. It's important to remember that only items that are in new condition should be regifted. It's also a good idea to rewrap the gift and make sure it is not accidentally regifted to the person who originally gave the present in question.