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Ah, the inappropriate birthday gift. That can be a difficult situation to be in as a parent, especially if the child LOVES the gift and you don't think it's the best.
(1) Take a deep breath. Most likely, the person got it thinking the child would like it.
(2) Assess the severity of the situation before deciding the best approach. If it's something completely outrangeous like a new convertible Mustang for a 16 year old, there's a problem, but if it's a building set with 900 pieces for a 2 year old, it's easily addressed. Once you know the magnitude of the present, then you can proceed to step three.
(3) Usually if it's simple, advice is to say "thank you" and even a quick "Where did you get such a cool item?" helps. That way, if you return it, you know where to go. If it's far out of bounds and this person is someone who will continue to give presents, take the person aside after the presents are opened and talk to them about their choice of gift. Make sure your spouse is with you on this because it's no fun to be the "bad guy/girl" with no backup. Family can complicate things, so make sure you and your spouse (and if the child is old enough) know what the limits are going to be before having a party or family birthday get together. Having the ground rules before hand can help avoid a lot of chaos later.
(4) Be honest, but tactful. Voicing appreciation first and following it with, "but this gift is far more than we feel comfortable accepting." If the present is something like a (pretend) shotgun or weapons and those aren't allowed in the house, gently explain you don't believe in firearms, but thank you for thinking of your child. If it's something that's not within your religious beliefs, again, the honest, but respectful approach is the most mature thing to do.
Nothing can cause more of a rift than an unappreciated gift, even if it's inappropriate. The best course of action is a respectful, but honest one.