The Rules for Regifting


Not all those gifts were on your wish list. In fact some might already be on a different list, the regift list.

But before you feel guilty, keep in mind that six in 10 gift exchangers find it perfectly acceptable to give an unwanted gift to someone else, at least according to a 2007 Money Management International survey. After all, regifting can save you money (and storage space).


The key to regifting is to have good intentions – and not get caught! Here are some tips that will keep you in good graces while you simultaneously rid your closet of unwanted gifts.

Keep records.
Avoid disaster by keeping track of your regifts—put a note on the outside of the packaging reminding you who sent the gift and when. Odds are high that the person gave it to you because it’s her taste or style, which means she’ll likely spring to mind when you think of who to regift to.

Check dates.
Cosmetics, fragrances and food have expiration dates. Double-check before you surprise someone with a present past its prime.

Keep it clean.
If it’s damaged, worn or dirty from sitting in your closet or under your bed, donate to a local charity, rather than pass off to your pals.

Avoid intersecting social circles.
Regift outside your circle of friends and family to avoid hurt feelings. A set of candlesticks from mom can go to a neighbor or colleague.

Thoughtfulness still counts.
Put the same amount of thought into re-gifting as you would in original giving. If your best friend collects light-up holiday sweaters, then she’s sure to love the one your Aunt Alice sent you, but if she finds them as unappealing as you do, consider saving the re-gift for someone who will truly love it.

If no one you know wants the beer bottle lamp your husband’s college roommate sent you both, donate it so it can connect with someone who appreciates its value.

Take homemade gifts off the list
Never regift homemade or handmade items. Sorry, but that’s just asking for bad karma. Someone put thought and love into creating it for you, so learn to love it.

Don't leave a trace.
This rule eliminates items that might have inscriptions (books, photo albums), monograms (sweaters, towels, sheets). Remove the original wrapping paper and perform a once-over to make sure the person who gave it to you didn’t write a nice message on the box or a hidden tag.

Keep the original packaging on.
Breaking the seal or packaging signals that you’ve opened or used what’s inside. If the giver insists you look at what she’s gotten you, remove the item carefully without damaging the box.

Don't try to upgrade.
A mass-market gift doesn’t become couture just because you put it in a Saks Fifth Avenue (SKS) box. Your cover will be broken once the new recipient attempts to return a polyester tie at a fancy boutique—and can’t.

Stick to easy re-gifts.
The easiest items to pass along are bottles of wine, boxes of candy and candles, because they’re fairly common and not likely to be anyone’s “signature gift.”

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