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5 Tips On Proper Unwanted Gifts Regifting Etiquette

By Heather Levin

There’s no doubt regifting is a contentious issue.

Some people wholeheartedly embrace regifting. Others think it’s tacky, and they’d never consider doing it. According to a survey done by Consumer Reports, 36% of people regifted last holiday season. And surprisingly, the higher your income, the likelier you are to have engaged in regifting.

Personally, I’m really into regifting. I’m always trying to downsize my home and life, so when I get an unwanted gift, why keep it? This is especially true if I happen to know someone who could really benefit from whatever I’m not using. Even better, it saves me a significant amount of money as well.

There are, however, some do’s and don’t’s when it comes to regifting.┬áSo, how do we regift the right way?

1. Make Sure It’s Appropriate

If you’re going to regift something, make sure the person you’re giving it to will actually like and use it. Otherwise, it’s just going to be another piece of clutter (or another regifted item for them!).

Gifts are meant to be special things. So don’t pass off your junk to someone else. But if you know they’ll really love the item, then regift away!

2. Don’t Regift Hand-Me-Downs/Used Items

You’ve used your bread maker three times already. But it’s not enough to justify the space it’s taking up in your kitchen. Can you regift it?

My advice would be no. To me, this would qualify as a hand-me-down, not a regift. It’s not something you’d wrap up and give as a gift for your best friend’s birthday. It’s used!

Give gently used items away on non-special days. Regifts should be in pristine, unused condition.

3. Keep Track of Who Gave What

Your mom gave you a sweater that you regifted to your cousin, who happens to wear it to your family reunion. Of course, your mom spots it from a thousand yards away, and suddenly you’ve got a family feud on your hands.

It’s important to keep track of who gave you what so you eliminate the risk of upsetting your friends and family. Many experts recommend regifting only when you can do it with a different social or family circle. I think this is great advice.

4. Rewrap the Gift

You’d think this would be an obvious one, but it’s not for a lot of people. If you’re going to regift something, then put fresh wrapping paper on it and make sure the old gift tag or card is replaced with a new version. US News and World Report says that 16% of the people they surveyed spotted a regift only because it had the wrong name on it. Oops. That’s a situation you don’t want to find yourself in.

Buy a fresh bag and tissue paper, or rewrap the gift entirely with fresh wrapping paper. Doing this will help to make sure it doesn’t look like a regift.

5. Don’t Regift Food

Imagine someone gave you a box of chocolates for Valentines Day, but you never opened them. So you give them to your friend for Easter. When she opens them up, the chocolate has gotten dusty from moisture and age.

Not good.

A good rule of thumb is just not to regift food. It gets old and stale.

What else shouldn’t you regift?

  • Partially used gift cards
  • Personal items like socks and underwear
  • Personalized items (like monogrammed/signed items)
  • Promotional items (like freebie company tote sacks)
  • Weird appliances no one has a use for

Last Word

What do you think? Are you a regifter, or do you consider it the height of tackiness?

Also, if you have a funny regifting story, I’d love to hear it!

(Photo credit: MarcinMoga / Lolek)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • mam

    Heather is obviously one of those weirdo vegetarians….What’s this world coming to? Eat what you want

  • Olivia

    It really depends on who the recipient is. My sister gets restaurant gifts cards from points earned through work gasoline purchases. She passes them on to us for Christmas. We’ve enjoyed some nice family meals out because of her. One year she regifted a lovely box of imported chocolates (because she doesn’t eat sugar). Really special. Both my sisters don’t mind recieving thrift store or yard sale items. As long as they’re in good shape and something they’d really like anyway, they’re game. Other family members are more squeemish So we try to accomodate them. Since the budget is the same for each one, they just get less bang for the buck alloted.

    • Heather Levin

      Olivia- I love the idea of passing on “points rewards” as gifts. Thanks for that great tip!

  • http://stretchyourdollarwaukesha.wordpress.com/ Skirnir Hamilton

    I do regift. But I supplement it too, as I usually allot a certain amount per person and if regifting something, that I know they will like, helps me to give them more within my budget, I am all for it. Now, it has to look good, not be dusty, etc. And I have to be careful that if someone in my family gave it to me, then I have to give it to someone at church, or someone in my husband’s family, etc. (What bothers me, is if someone at church gives me something, then later I put it in the church rummage, which is where most of my stuff goes if I don’t really find a good use for it. So I try hard to remember who gave me what!)

    • Heather Levin

      Skirner- I like the idea of regifting as a supplement. I’ve never thought it about it that way before, but it’s a smart strategy. Thanks for reading, and for writing in!

  • Lori

    Rather than Regifting, which, could bruise a real friendship, if you regift to them, and they find out that you are too lazy to take the time to find a gift that you actually put some thought into…how bout establishing some boundaries about gifts between friends…or pass these unwanted gifts along to charity, as they tend to appreciate most everything they get.

    Also, if money is an issue, or you are that lazy or don’t care much about the person to pick them up a real gift, how bout just send cards to each other, or perhaps you should just apply the ” do unto others” rule. If. The gift you are giving is not something you would want if the situation were reversed….then don’t give that gift to another.

    Regifting for a special day like Holidays or a birthday, is tacky and shows people you are lazy, cheap or that you simply don’t car enough to give the very best.

    But, if you want to expose that side of yourself, regift away, and see these friends that you don’t care much about anyway…fall by the wayside. No one wants to feel like an afterthought…which is what an exposed regift conveys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.violet Lisa Violet

    Last Christmas we put a lot of thought into a gift. The recipient was so touched when she opened it, that she cried.

    This year she told us she gave it to her son.

    She’s getting nothing this year.

    If you regift? Don’t tell the person who gave it to you that you got rid of it.

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