The 9 Rules of Regifting

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If you're considering regifting this holiday season, here are some practical tips to make sure you do it right.

We’ve likely all opened a gift and immediately thought, “What am I ever going to do with this?” After digging around for the gift receipt in vain, the situation might seem hopeless. But there’s one alternative you might not have considered before: regifting.

Regifting isn’t just for those considered cheap or inconsiderate. According to a survey by Money Management International, 58 percent of respondents said they regift or are considering doing so. Other research published in Psychological Science suggests the original givers don’t care as much about regifting as we assume.

If the research doesn’t convince you, the benefits of regifting just might. It saves money, reduces landfill waste, and if you’re thoughtful about how you do it, ends with a happy recipient.

Despite support for regifting, it’s still a touchy subject. No one wants to offend a loved one or suffer embarrassment from being caught giving something we didn’t like. Before you regift this year, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has tips on how to do it right.

Ready to regift? Here are the rules to follow for giving with care.

1. Be honest with yourself

The second you rip open that tacky sweater or random kitchen appliance, you know if you’re going to wear it or use it. Don’t live in denial, thinking that someday you’ll change your mind. Unworn and unused evidence in your closets and garage proves otherwise.

Trust your gut on whether you’ll use your gift or should consider regifting.

2. Make sure regifting makes sense

Not every present you receive and don’t like is a good candidate for regifting. Before putting it in your regifting pile, ask yourself if you could give it to someone else without feeling guilty or embarrassed.

If the giver spent great time and care choosing this gift for you, consider holding onto it instead of risking hurt feelings.

Personalized or monogrammed items are almost always off-limits, except in the unlikely case you share a name with someone else.

Don’t try to get away with regifting anything used, either. At the very least the receiver won’t like it, and they may be offended.

3. Label to-be-regifted items

Every regifter’s worst nightmare is being caught. Even worse: accidentally giving the gift back to the original giver.

Preventing disaster is easy. Make sure to label items you plan to regift with the name of the original giver. Write down others who saw you open the gift too, since there’s a chance they’ll recognize the item later.

4. Check the packaging

Before regifting, make sure to erase any evidence that the item was originally intended for you. Did Aunt Mary tuck a note inside that book? Or did Uncle Ernie write your name on the box somewhere?

Be thorough in your search, and get rid of any packaging or personalization that’s a giveaway it’s a regift.

5. Keep a catalog

If you’re a serial regifter, track your inventory. Use a notebook or a computer spreadsheet to make a list of what the gift is, who it came from, and where you’re storing it in your house.

Before shopping, consult your handy regifting list to see if you have anything that matches up with the recipient’s tastes. You might already have the perfect gift for them, saving time and money.

6. Find the perfect recipient

Obviously you shouldn’t regift just anything to anyone. The gift should still be a good fit for the receiver, not just a free way for you to get rid of something you don’t want.

An easy test is to ask if the gift is something you would’ve picked out for them or that they’ve specifically asked for. If not, rethink your regifting choice.

7. Go where regifting is encouraged

Can’t think of anyone? You can still regift without making it personal, and regifting is even encouraged for some parties.

Yankee Swaps with your friends and family or at the office are a great option for tossing your gift into the ring and increasing the chances it’ll find a happy owner. Parties like these might specifically say regifting is okay to keep costs down while making the swap more entertaining.

8. Wrap it right

Just because you’re regifting doesn’t mean you can re-wrap your gift with the same paper and packaging it came in. Not only is this inconsiderate, it’s also more likely to be noticed.

Take the time to put the gift in a fresh box with new paper, and the thoughtful presentation will make your regifted item less likely to be detected.

9. If in doubt, consider alternatives

If you’re not sure if you should regift something, you might be better off looking at other options for your unwanted stuff. A few options include:

  • Returning it. You might be able to return your gift to the retailer and get store credit to spend on something you like better.
  • Selling it on eBay or Craigslist. Someone else might be willing to buy what you don’t want, even if the item isn’t brand new.
  • Donating it. For stuff you can’t sell or return, charities accept almost anything that’s still useful.
Stacy Johnson

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