When you are a family elf
To pull resources with others that will be giving the person a gift, and have all names on the card that helped.
To buy part of it and let other family members know what was wanted and what part you bought. Like if an older person wants a trip you may buy the travel ticket, some one else may do the motel, another buy needed items for the trip. Or if something like a special doll, you by the doll, and let others buy the items that go with her.
To start a fund to put toward the item. This can be great for teens, wanting a car, stereo, or a new computer. Open a savings account with the money, and wrap up the passbook, with a nice note. Some times you might be able to find a miniature of the item to wrap with it.
Warning: What ever you do, be careful with substitutes,
especially with young children. Even the young ones know the difference
between the real brand name toy, and a "look a like". You may be safer
going or the second most wanted item on the list, than getting a off brand
version of the first choice.
If you lost the receipt, many stores will still let you exchange it for the first week after Christmas.
Was on clearance, bought too early, or store won't allow
exchanges. Take the person out to buy a replacement, and donate the other
one to a shelter.
If you are going to be shipping the gift out of town,
many major stores, now will give you a gift receipt. This gift receipt
shows the item, but not the price. It will allow the person to exchange
it just like a normal receipt. Plus you get to keep the original.
Most companies are good and honest, however Christmas is the busiest season, and they do have human employees. Mistakes can happen. Also some companies simply aren't honest.
Order early, have them read back the order stating colors, sizes.....
When the item is delivered take a quick look at the box, if damaged note it, request that the delivery person stay, while you open the box. If the item is damaged, file a claim.
If the box looked fine, but the item has been broken in shipment, file the claim imediately and let the company know you will need a replacement ASAP.
If the wrong item was shipped
Call the store, re-order the item, and set-up to return the wrong item for a refund. Otherwise, the company may not send the replacement until they receive the first one, making the replacement come too late for Christmas.
Return item for a refund, and go to plan B. Plan B:Go
to a local store, and buy a replacement.
Helping Outside of the Home
You may wish to recrute some help, either by asking friends, family, or co-workers, to help out.
If this is not possable, let the person/family know, that
as much as you like to have provided the item you won't be able to.
Of course there are people that thrive off the goodness
of others. If this happens, do your duty, don't make the kids pay the price
for their parents greed.
You aren't doing this for the praize, or for people to
tell you how nice you are. You do it from the heart, to make a little piece
of the world a little better for awhile. Many people are receiving help
for the first time, they may be ashamed, and feeling that they have failed
or are wondering "whats the catch". They simply don't know how to respond.
After all we have all heard the phrase, "There's no free lunch".