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Rules on Re-Gifting

Updated on October 30, 2012

We all get gifts that we don't particularly like. Sometimes it happens because someone who felt obligated to get presents for us just didn't know us well enough to pick out the right thing. Other times, it's not even so much that we don't like the gift as it is that we aren't going to make use of it. It's a beautiful sweater but it doesn't look right on us; it's a terrific pen set but you rarely make use of a nice pen.

So do we keep the gift because it was given to us by someone we know? Or do we re-gift it to someone else who might be able to make better use of it?

I err on the side of re-gifting myself. However, I follow some basic rules about re-gifting in order to maintain my own beliefs in the etiquette of the process. Here are some of the rules that I consider to be basic common sense for my own re-gifting habits:

Rule #1. I don't re-gift something that was just received. If someone gives me a rose gold necklace that I open on December 24th, I don't rush to re-package it by the 25th to give it to someone else. In other words, I don't rely on re-gifting for coming up with gifts to give to anyone in my life.

Rule #2. It has to be a fitting gift for the person I give it to next. I keep a collection of the things that I don't think I'll ever use and I go back to them now and again. I try to think of someone that it is really an appropriate gift for. I really believe in only giving a gift to someone if I look at it and think that it would be perfect for them. That rule applies to re-gifting as much as it applies to going to the store.

Rule #3. I double-check it so it's not an obvious re-gift. My grandma is one of those people who believes that you never give an empty purse to someone so if she buys a purse as a gift, she sticks five dollars in it. Now, if I re-gifted one of her purses without checking, no one would know that I hadn't intended the money for them. But what if there was a personal note, a price tag, a symbol of an inside joke? I make sure to actually open the gift and look at it before passing it along to someone else.

Rule #4. I'm not ashamed of it. Most of the people who I know are all about recycling and no one minds re-gifting. But I wouldn't re-gift something to someone that I was embarrassed to tell it to. Of course, I don't go around announcing, "hey, I got this from someone else and hated it so I thought I'd give it to you". But I make sure that if someone did accidentally find out that I'd re-gifted, it wouldn't be an embarrassing situation for me. If I wouldn't be okay with it, I don't do it.

One of my favorite things to do is to have a gift giveaway in the Spring. The holidays are done. We have a good idea of which gifts we're going to use and which are still sitting in the closet. So we get a bunch of people together for some wine and snacks, some games and conversation ... and some very obvious re-gifting. Everyone brings something they don't want and puts it into a big box. At the end of the night, we each get a gift from the box and open it in front of everyone. Then we go around trading gifts with others until everyone is happy with what they've ended up with. It puts a good use to the gift and gives everyone a great time. Plus it brings a little bit of Christmas to each spring.


Submit a Comment

  • Kathryn Vercillo profile imageAUTHOR

    Kathryn Vercillo 

    4 years ago from San Francisco

    I really don't think that there's anything wrong with regifting. I wrote this article ages ago but continue to follow the same basic rules. I believe strongly in recycling and upcycling and am glad more and more people seem to be embracing this! What are your thoughts on regifting?

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    compu... lol!

  • Veronica profile image


    10 years ago from NY


    Good article. Great idea about the regifting exchange party in the Spring.

    I'm a regifter. I exchange with so many obligatory people, like my inlaws, every year I have several things I just can not use. If I know someone that can use the item, I will absolutely regift. If not, I give it to the humane society for their annual tricky tray or flea martket.

  • compu-smart profile image


    10 years ago from London UK

    Here's a few things to say if you don't like a gift*** My word! What a gift***if I hadn't put on so much weight recently it would have fitted me perfectly***Gosh, I hope I never lose this. We're always losing things around here***It's great; but I'm worried about the jealousy it may create***Just my luck to get this, on the Christmas I promised to give all my gifts to charity***Unfortunately, I am about to enter MI5s Witness Protection program***Really, I don't deserve this***Really, you shouldn't have..


  • MrMarmalade profile image


    10 years ago from Sydney

    We re gift. Not for the same occasion. If it was given for Christmas, then some body's next Birthday

    It works well for us.

    Our children do not have an issue with asking us to change it, nor do we for that matter. Better to be something liked rather than something just received

    Have a great new year and a better 2008


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