Maybe you’ve heard a few nightmare tales about regifting — or lived them yourself. Ever received a present that has a gift tag with someone else’s name? That’s probably the No. 1 regifting goof.
But there are ways to pull off a regift successfully — especially in 2020, when our in-person shopping and gift-giving has been reduced, and any present feels like a bright spot in a tough year.
Some items, of course, shouldn’t be regifted. Don’t regift anything that’s been opened — even if the item inside wasn’t used. If the item was homemade for you, like a knitted scarf or jar of jam, don’t pass that on. Never hand over out-of-date technology, even if it’s unused.
And consider the recipient: Don’t give your sister the gift your brother handed you last year.
But that said, here’s a look at some items that should be perfectly fine to regift, if you’re a bit careful about it.
1. Art supplies
Today’s excellent art supplies aren’t just for kids. Artistic adults, too, may appreciate elegant colored pencils, calligraphy sets and gel pens in all the colors of the rainbow. You can even dress up your regift by adding in an adult coloring book or sketchpad.
Candles offer a warm glow to light up the winter night. But if you know you’ll never light that lovely pine-scented present, pass it on to someone who might appreciate a little light in a dreary year. One caveat: Some major candle stores have one-time or seasonal collections, so if your gift is older, it might be obvious that it’s not a new purchase.
Received a nice bottle of wine, but you’re not a drinker? Or perhaps you only drink reds, and your neighbor dropped off a nice bottle of chardonnay? Wine (or other liquors) is a perfect regift — as long as you know the recipient isn’t avoiding alcohol.
Few presents are as flexible as a gift card. By putting the present choice in the recipient’s hands, you’ll never give an item that’s the wrong size, wrong color or that someone already owns. And most gift cards are easy to use online — a bonus for those who are trying to stay away from crowds. Just be careful that the card you regift hasn’t been partially used — no one wants to punch in a gift card number and discover they only have 75 cents to spend.
Games and puzzles
Our household has played more board games and assembled more jigsaw puzzles in 2020 than we did in the previous three years combined. It’s a natural consequence of finding ourselves stuck at home. Games and puzzles that don’t appeal to your family might be a welcome distraction for someone else. Be sure they’re unopened — few things are more frustrating than a puzzle missing a piece.
Maybe your cousin sent you a handy citrus juicer for a housewarming present — and you already have two. And while those cat tea towels from Grandma are sure purr-ty, you have a drawer full of towels already. Leave any tags and packaging intact, and cook up a tasty regifting plan.
My mom didn’t have pierced ears, but not everyone in her life knew that. She subtly passed on any pierced earring gifts to her four daughters and kept clip-ons for herself. Don’t pass on heirlooms or pricey presents to those who might not appreciate them, though. And before a jewelry regift, figure out if your recipient actually wears that kind of item. Mom thanks you.
Fragrance and lotions
Scent is so personal. If someone gifted you rose cologne that makes you sneeze, or vanilla lotion when you only wear the unscented variety, don’t feel guilty about passing an unopened gift along. Try to snoop around first to see if the new recipient is likely to be a fan — some people have allergies, while others love a light fragrance but can’t deal with stronger scents.
Themed gift baskets can be a huge hit with the right person. But maybe you received a cache of different coffees and you never touch the stuff, or bridgework or braces won’t let your family enjoy the flavored popcorn pack. Regift without guilt — large family groups will usually have at least one person who will appreciate the items.
Children are fun to buy for — browsing through toys delivers an irresistible trip down memory lane. But faraway relatives don’t always judge a child’s age appropriately, and middle-schoolers are unlikely to want Disney princess dolls or bath toys. Find the next generation in your family or circle of friends, and pass on those presents.
My brother and sister used to trade off the same rubber chicken every Christmas, working each year to package it in a creative and novel way so it wouldn’t be recognized until it was opened. You may not want to go this far, but goofy or gag gifts aren’t meant to be taken seriously. So if you never opened that Bob Ross bobblehead, or won’t ever use those bacon-scented bandages, give them away with a clear conscience. You’ll likely get a laugh, and that’s all these gifts really require.