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What Is Regifting?

Updated on March 5, 2015
Regift those unwanted items.
Regift those unwanted items. | Source

We all get those unwanted gifts for holidays, birthdays and other occasions---the tacky sweater, clothes that don’t fit, lotions and make up we don’t use, food items we don’t eat. We have to pretend to be gracious for it and say all the right things. Then we throw it in the back of closet or even in the garbage can after the person is gone.

But there is a better way to handle unwanted gifts.

What Is Regifting?

Regifting is simply the act of taking a present that was given to you and giving it to someone else. There is some etiquette involved. You should never regift in the same circles. For example, if your co-worker gives you a gift, it would probably be okay to regift to your neighbor or a family member. The key is picking people that do not associate with the same groups of people. You are then more likely to avoid hurt feelings.

Why You Should Regift

According to, regifting rather than throwing items away or letting them languish in a box is the green way to go. Every item has a perfect home for somebody, even if that somebody is not you. There are some great ways to regift your items. But first let's consider what you shouldn't do.

Don’t regift that item if:

  • It has been used

  • It is expired

  • It’s not a good match for the recipient

  • It looks beat up, dusty, or dirty

Based on the item you are regifting, there are different groups of people in your social circle or community who may enjoy receiving it.

Wrap the gift neatly in fresh paper or gift bags.
Wrap the gift neatly in fresh paper or gift bags. | Source


If you are regifting to a friend make sure that the item is something he or she could use. Remember how you felt receiving something that wasn’t a good match. If you get a nice gift basket of candies, don’t give it to a friend who is trying to diet. Think about the person and what would make them feel good.

Family Member

Sometimes the worst gifts are from well-meaning family members who see you once or twice a year and have no idea what you like. If you are regifting to a family member, make sure that it is not within the same family circles. For example, if your in-laws are not close friends with your parents then it may be okay to give that Christmas sweater to your mom. You know she’ll want to wear it and embarrass your kids.

Even if it is a regifted item, you can still take time to make sure it is a good fit and let your family member know that you thought about them.

Regifting Holiday

December 19 is National Regifting Day. But you don’t have to wait until then to find the perfect home for your unwanted gifts. Remember that regifting is the green way to go.

Nursing Home

There are gifts that are appropriate for your local nursing home. If you are thinking about taking items there, call first to find out what is acceptable. Nursing home residents often need toiletry items. You may also find a place for pajamas that don’t fit, bathrobes, and slippers.

While you’re there dropping off your items you can spend a few minutes talking with some of the residents and discovering what stories they have to tell. Some nursing homes will let you take the items to the residents themselves (and make suggestions about who needs them.) This is a great way to meet new people and help out your community.

Shelter or Food Pantry

If you receive a food gift, donating it to a group or organization that can distribute it to those who are hungry or needy is a good idea. Different groups have different rules but usually, if the food is not expired and is still wrapped, boxed or canned, they can accept it.

If you received a large fruit basket and know that you won’t eat it in time, call a local soup kitchen or shelter and see if you can drop off the basket before they serve their next meal. While it’s a bit different from regifting for a birthday or holiday, you can definitely feel good about your gift going to help those that need it.

Pretty paper for rewrapping that gift.
Pretty paper for rewrapping that gift. | Source


Regifting to kids and among kids is pretty easy to do. If you receive an item such as flowers with a stuffed animal, that animal can be put into the regifting box and used the next time your kid tells you two hours ahead of time that he was invited to a birthday party today. Or it can be used when you find out your niece is coming in for the holidays after all and bringing her toddler with her.

If you have kids and they have birthday parties, they may receive gifts that they don’t like or already have. You can set those aside to use as gifts for when they go to parties later in the year. But be careful; make sure that the regifting occurs in such a way that the original giver doesn’t know. If you are putting the gift up, take a small sticky note and label when the gift was received and who gave it to them. That way you don’t risk regifting it to the person who gave it your kid in the first place.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Gifts

If you can't think of anyone appropriate to regift your item to, you do have other options.

Do you ever regift unwanted items?

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Yard Sale

If you can’t find a good fit for the item, you can always try to get rid of it through a yard sale. When you are doing this be careful. You don’t want to have something for sale that the original giver will come by and see. It’s always best to avoid hurt feelings.


This is the most anonymous way to get rid of unwanted gifts that don’t seem to have a good home among your friends or family. On Ebay it is easy to list your item and connect with the person that really wants it. Make sure to be a good seller by selling it for a reasonable price and mailing it promptly after the bidding is closed.

It's Okay To Regift!

Money Management International points out that regifting is becoming more and more accepted as it is a way to save money and the environment.

Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.


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