The Guide to Proper Regifting

The act of re-gifting—passing on as new a gift someone else gave you—is controversial but only because of those who do a noticeably bad job of it. After all, if every act of re-gifting was carried out flawlessly no one would have the occasion to find it distasteful. And that brings me to the first Rule of Re-gifting:

1. Never admit to re-gifting. If your friends know you’re a regifter, you’ll find yourself in the unpleasant situation of explaining why re-gifting is different from not caring. Worse, they will be suspicious of the gifts you give them. It’s best to keep re-gifting completely to yourself.

2. Designate a location. Keep re-gifts in a convenient, albeit secret, place in a special box or cupboard with extra wrapping paper and ribbon. Some people shop for gifts in department stores. Never underestimate the utility of a gift stash that allows you to shop at home.

3. Have a heart. Any gift made especially for you or given to you by a parent, child or close relative cannot be re-gifted. Even if it’s not ideal, consider its sentimental value. Don’t even think of re-gifting. It just wouldn’t be right. 

4. Label all re-gifts. Do this as soon as you determine you’ve received a regift to avoid the heartbreak of back-gifting—giving someone a gift they gave you. Simply make a detailed note of where this item originated.

5. Check again. You cannot be too careful. Let’s say the gift is a book. Take a peek to make sure it has not been inscribed to you. If it’s a boxed gift make sure the gift tag has not dropped inside the box. These are the careless acts that give re-gifting a bad name.

6. No telltale signs. A regift must look brand-new. If the box is damaged or shows any signs that it has been opened, it does not qualify as a regift.

7. Not remotely acquainted. Your re-giftee must not in any way be acquainted with anyone in the circle of friends or relatives of the person who gave this to you. Refer to Rules 3 and 4 above.

If there’s a time you want to use new paper and ribbon, it’s on a regift. Anything else is a dead giveaway.

No matter how you feel about it, the practice of re-gifting is here to stay. So if you participate, do it well. And if you don’t want your gift to land in someone’s re-gift box, put a little thought and effort into the gift to make sure it is something the receiver will truly enjoy—not just something that lets you mark another name off your list.

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  • Kimberley Hunter

    8. Never, ever, ever regift something that was handmade. If you hate it, either give it a chance to grow on you, or donate it somewhere that takes that kind of thing.

  • jan

    The only rule I would add is to make sure it is something that actually suits the person you’re giving it to. Could and would they actually love it or use it? Sometimes someone gives you a pair of earrings that you dont really care for. If they are large hoops, dont give them to someone who only wears small dainty jewelry. The point in regifting is still to bless the recipient with something you THOUGHFULLY selected for them.

  • Emjay

    And one more tip: Take the To/From label out of or off the item being regifted. Years ago, I donated a new toaster to a charity event without checking thoroughly for the gift tag, and the person purchasing the item knew me and my gift giver. He kindly handed me the label. You can bet I kicked myself for being so…well, stupid.