Winter Fun Guide

How to Regift Unwanted Presents

Regifting often saves us during our holiday scramble. But the ethics are highly debated. Is it really okay to regift? Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman shares her rules


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He can recognize his mother-in-law’s expert wrapping from a mile away

Sebastian Gauert/Shutterstock

​The third Thursday of December — December 18 this year — is National Regifting Day, and if you’re looking to regift this holiday season, you’re going to have to follow some guidelines.

“Regifting is certainly acceptable if you use your best judgment and gift with integrity,” says Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert, author, and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. “Regifting is only frowned upon when it’s done improperly.”

Rule #1: Avoid regifting among the same circle of friends

Think about it: do you really want to worry about the original giver finding out you gave away his present?

“Giving to someone who lives in another city or state is the best way to play it safe,” says Gottsman. “The last thing you want is someone receiving something with a friend’s name on it.”

Rule #2: Don’t regift sentimental items

Always be careful with what you’re giving away. If the item is very important to the person who gave it to you, then tossing it would most certainly hurt feelings. You can tuck it away in an inobtrusive location, and only bring it out when they’re around.

Rule #3: Consider full-disclosure

If your gift really ”fits” the intended receiver, and you’re close enough to them, go ahead and tell them that the item isn’t new. No one ever said a good gift has to be a new gift.

“A gift you once received might not be your taste, and that’s fine,” says Gottsman. “You could tell your friend, ‘would you like this purse? It’s a bit large for me to carry around, but I know you love larger bags.’ ”

Rule #4: Be considerate when wrapping regifted items

Make them look pretty: Use nice wrapping paper, and get a card that suits the receiver. You should also keep your gifts in the original packaging, because the receiver may want to return, exchange, or — gasp! — regift them.

Lastly, and most importantly...

Rule #5: Never regift an undesirable item

Don’t give a gift just because you think you should. Give a gift that you think the receiver deserves. “Regifting is not old junk,” says Gottsman. “You should regift when you have quality items and limited funds. We are all budget-conscious, ecologically conscious, and community-minded. If your gift is still good, but not gift-worthy, then donate it.”

Have you regifted before? Has the giver (or receiver) ever found out? Share your stories in the comments below. Happy gifting!

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