Shopping, turkey, Buck's Fizz and chocolate; just a few of the things we overdo in December.As we enter the new year with promises for better health, wealth and motivation, there's one thing we can't escape in January: The dreaded returns.Unwanted gifts, party outfits in the wrong colour, items damaged in delivery and the rest. There's probably a pile of things in every household, waiting patiently in a bag with the receipt. When there's so much going on in the post-Christmas comedown, refunding and returning all those lingering online purchases can seem like an inconvenient and unwanted task (who can be bothered getting changed out of pyjamas and making the treacherous trek to stand in a queue at the Post Office?).That means that a simple and straightforward returns experience can really be a weight lifted from your shoulders. Here are a couple of tips to help make sure the January returns don't give you the blues.Keep an eye on the timeMost retailers - online and offline - have a time limit within their returns policy. Timescales differ from brand to brand and can be anywhere from 14 to 30 days, with even more variation depending on the product. Over the Christmas period, returns windows are often extended too.Check each policy carefully, to make sure you avoid any confusion, disappointment or wasted time.The golden ticketProof of purchase is an essential part of refunds and returns and this may be a confirmation email, delivery note or paper receipt. Many retailers will reject a return if the right documentation or information cannot be provided, so it's always worth making sure you keep the packaging, hold on to the paperwork and check the retailer's refund rules.As we all know, it's better to be safe than sorry.The full packageDue to the nature of the items for sale, some ecommerce retailers are very strict with what can be returned and the state in which it arrives back with them.Some of the common pitfalls:If the item lands back with the retailer in a damaged or de-tagged state with packaging missing, this is often seen as unacceptable. Consider reading handy posting guides like this one (especially if you're sending fragile or unusual items ).Be savvy with the sendingYou may not know this, but Amazon Marketplace have returns criteria of its own. If you buy through this channel, you need to be aware of the following: Items that are being returned to seller through Amazon distribution centres will need to sent via an approved carrier such as UPS, DPD and Parcelforce otherwise the return won't actually reach Amazon (they'll refuse delivery). Ouch.Remember, it doesn't have to be a chore to send a parcel. If free returns or an elected courier aren't included with the purchase, don't worry. My Parcel Delivery lets you easily compare delivery services that fit around you and your busy January schedule. Plus, you can save a packet whilst sending your parcel too.