The Dos and Don’ts of Regifting

There's sometimes a stigma attached to regifting, but there’s nothing wrong with thoughtfully passing along an unopened item that you can’t—or won’t—use. Here's how to regift without causing offense.

Regifting Can Be the Ultimate Repurposing

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regifting repurposing

The best gifts come from the heart and show that you truly know and care about the recipient. So, the source of the gift—in this case, a regift—matters less than the thought. Still, repurposing for the sake of avoiding waste without considering gift-giving etiquette can do more harm than good.

Regifting etiquette involves following a few dos and don’ts to make sure you avoid hurting the feelings of the recipient or the original gift giver. By following these simple “rules” of regifting, you can make the thought and the gift count!

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DO Think Carefully About the Person on the Receiving End

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Be Thoughtful

Just because an item is still in its original packaging doesn’t mean it’s the perfect gift for your friend. In fact, the same rules that apply to picking out a brand-new gift apply when regifting. The bottom line: You still need to be thoughtful. If a person hates scented candles, don’t regift the ones you received and won’t use.


Related: 11 Easy Ways to Be the Best Holiday Host

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DON’T Regift Anything That Has Obviously Been Used

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Don't Regift Used Items

Even a tiny amount of wear and tear—on either the actual gift or the packaging—takes an item out of the running for regifting. The item you’re passing along needs to at least appear brand new, or else it’s a no-go. Leave the packaging intact. If you have a slightly used item you know might be perfect for a friend or family member, by all means pass it along, but don't wrap and present it as a birthday or holiday gift.


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DO Make an Effort to Wrap It Nicely

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regifting wrap nicely

Presentation matters, whether you’re giving a regular gift or regifting. Because you didn’t shell out any cash for the present, spend a few dollars on wrapping paper and ribbon to make your offering extra special. (Hey, it helps!)

Related: 13 Better-Than-Gift-Wrap Ideas for Packaging Presents

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DON’T Pass Off Anything That Was Clearly Made Just for You

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Don't Give Monogramed Gifts

Handmade items? Anything monogrammed? When it comes to regifting, personalized items are off the table because there’s no way to disguise the intended recipient. Besides, the giver probably put lots of care and thought into the original gift.

Related: 25 Handy Stocking Stuffers Under $25

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DO Keep a List of Who Gave You What Every Year

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Christmas Gift List

The expert regifter keeps diligent track of items received every year. Why? Think about it: The cardinal sin of regifting is accidentally giving an item to the person who gave it to you in the first place.

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DON’T Regift Office Swag

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Don't Give Office Swag

Some freebies are easier to spot than others. Anything with a company logo—water bottles, T-shirts, and tote bags—should be avoided at all costs. Bring convention show freebies back for the kids when you return, but don’t save them for family stocking stuffers.

Related: 9 Handy Holiday Gifts for the DIYer on Your List

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DO Regift Items to Charity

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Gift To Charity

Just because you don’t need it doesn’t mean a charity can’t benefit from an item. The basic regifting rules still apply: If a charity raises funds with auctions, the items need to be new and in perfect condition. Resale stores need items that are clean and in good condition, so regifting clothing and gently used items to charity regifts by paying forward by helping to raise funds for a worthy cause.

Related: 50 Under $50 Gifts for Homeowners

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DON’T Regift from a Store That’s No Longer in Business

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Closed Store

This is a regifting 101 rule: If a store no longer exists, it will be obvious to the recipient that you didn’t make an effort to shop and pick out something new. Plus, recipients can’t exchange gifts if the store is out of business. It’s easy to research online for local or e-commerce stores, so check the status before passing the gift on.

Related: 10 Kitchen Products That Will Last a Lifetime

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DO Regift for a White Elephant Party or Yankee Swap

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White Elephant Gift

It’s the name of the game, isn’t it? At these parties, you’re supposed to show up with a wrapped gift to contribute to the pool, then try to leave with the best one. It’s a regifter’s paradise! In fact, joke gifts are usually encouraged. Just be aware of the work or social group present so you don’t offend the original giver.

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DON’T Regift to Mutual Friends and Family

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dont regift friends family

If there’s even an ounce of a chance that members of your inner circle could actually see you regift something one of them gave with love to you (or even find out about it after the fact), stop in your tracks. The same goes for reselling an item on social media that friends or friends of friends might see. (Seriously, it’s not worth the hurt you could cause.)

Related: 10 Creative Stocking Stuffers You Can Make in Minutes

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DO Keep Regifting a Secret

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regifting secret

It should go without saying that successfully regifting an item isn’t something to brag about. Instead, celebrate your resourcefulness—and keep it to yourself. If that makes you uncomfortable, share the item (but not as a sole gift) and offer full disclosure.

Related: Bob Vila's Guide to "$30 and Under" Stocking Stuffers

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DON’T Regift Outdated Technology

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dont regift obsolete technology

Lots of people have tech items that they used once and abandoned or that were gifted and never opened. Passing these on might help another, but outdated technology gifts just sit in the recipient’s closet and are more of a burden than a gift. These items reach obsolescence at record speed. Speaking of records, some tech gifts are valued for their retro or sentimental appeal. If you know your best friend is into vinyl, go ahead and gift an unopened record.

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DO Feel OK About Adding Small Items to New Gift Baskets

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regifting add items basket

Giving a themed gift basket to a friend, relative, or coworker adds a personal touch. When filling a skin care basket, for example, it’s more than OK to add in that hostess gift of nice lotion that you’ll never open. After all, it’s just one piece in a collection. And if you have a brown thumb but need gifts for a plant lover, pass on the seed packet or tiny succulent you received as part of a themed green basket.

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DON’T Regift Awful Gifts

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dont regift bad gifts

Some items make bad gift choices even the first time around. If you held on to a gift from last year that was so terrible it made for that night’s dinner conversation, don’t save it for regifting. These awful gifts might work as white elephant choices, but that’s about it.

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DO Share Items You Don’t Need

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regifting items not needed

There’s regifting for occasions, and then there’s just thoughtful repurposing. If you have an item you can’t use but know of someone who needs or will appreciate it, it’s better to share than waste. Just be open and let the recipient know you want to pass on the book, tool, or kitchen gadget you don’t need; you don’t have to save it for a birthday or holiday. After all, any act or thoughtfulness is a gift in itself.

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