Have You Been Regifted?

The Christmas gift from your sister Barb is beautifully wrapped and beribboned. The card attached to the outside includes a thoughtful note.

Tucked inside the box is a small envelope with a Bridal Shower card inside it. The envelope is addressed to Barb, and inside is a card signed by Shelley. You have been regifted, and – if your name is Shelley – with your own gift!

Related: These Gifts Keep On Taking

When is Regifting Okay?

Is regifting rude?  Is it tacky?  More and more people think it’s acceptable to regift and the practice is growing in popularity.  There are some rules to make it okay, but be very careful:

  • The item must be brand new in the (preferably unopened) original packaging with no obvious signs of use – no crumbs in the toaster for example.
  • Keep careful track.  Make sure the person receiving the gift is in a completely different social circle than the person who gave it originally – especially if it’s an unusual item, or one of a kind.
  • Don’t regift something that has been sitting in your basement for decades.  If you have to dust it off, it’s not an acceptable gift.
  • The gift shouldn’t be something so hideous that you are regifting just to be rid of it.
  • Don’t try to pass off an item as something you’ve purchased just for them.
  • Never regift an item someone has made for you, is monogrammed, or has an inscription on it.
  • Don’t regift free, promotional items.
  • Avoid foodstuffs.  The world’s most regifted food item is fruitcake.  Food and drinks in gift baskets can go stale, rancid or curdle and can be dangerous if eaten past the due date.

Remove any tell tale signs about where the gift originated.  Take off old tape and bits of attached wrapping paper.  Make sure any cards and notes are removed.

Give good stuff

Turn a gift you can’t use into one you can, but have some consideration.  There’s nothing wrong if you’re truly thoughtful and respectful toward the recipient’s needs, interests and tastes.

RelatedHow to find discounted gift cards and save big

Some good candidates are (unopened) bottles of wine or spirits, new household items and inexpensive jewelry – something useful you don’t need, or already have, or simply not to your taste – that you know the recipient will love.

Regifting a family heirloom (or similar) is acceptable.  In fact this is what many “old money” families do.

Final thoughts

I would not regift because I don’t want people to think I’m thoughtlessly unloading something I don’t want to someone who won’t want the item either.  I don’t want the feelings of the regiftee to be irreparably hurt by thinking I can’t be bothered to spend time and money on a gift they will appreciate.

When people say, “Really, you shouldn’t have,” I don’t want them to mean it.

I would more likely donate an unsuitable gift to a charitable organization. But I seem to be in the minority.

This site has declared the third Thursday in December as “National Regifting Day”, something to keep in mind for the ubiquitous gift exchange at your next office party.

Ebay Canada markets “National Regifting Week” as an annual event from December 26 – 30.

What are your thoughts on regifting?

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  1. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies on December 26, 2012 at 9:02 am

    In general, I think regifting is fine as long as you adhere to the same rules that we use when buying a gift. The gift must be about the recipient, not about you.

    If your friend is in need of a toaster, and you happen to have an extra in the box that you were just gifted – it’s the perfect gift. But if they’ve already got a toaster they like, they’ll be just like you were when you got it.

    The only exception I think is gift exchanges like the White Elephant. Those are perfect for regifting if it’s something that’s generic enough that people could want it.

  2. Joe on December 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I think your list is generally common sense. It’s sad that people pull this sort of thing; just don’t bother with the gift.

    But I do take issue with one point:

    “Don’t regift free, promotional items.” What if the free item is a Sony Internet Player plus GoogleTV with touchpad/QWERTY keyboard remote??

    • Boomer on December 26, 2012 at 11:12 am

      @Joe: If I received a free Sony Internet Player I’d keep it. I’m talking about the promo stuff you get from conferences and such, like a pen set or fanny pack emblazoned with the company name.

      I once won a camera in a hospital lottery that I gave away as a gift to someone who wanted a new camera. I don’t see anything wrong with that and I didn’t consider it regifting.

      • Joe on December 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

        Well, this Christmas I’m on parental leave (the EI portion, no longer top-up). So, in the interest of not having a “lean” Christmas I had my partner also apply for the Internet Player cc offer. We both got one, and it’s pretty sick, so it seemed like a no-brainer to use one of them as a ‘centerpiece’ gift. It took time rather than money but hopefully it’s the thought that counts. And, unlike a macaroni picture that pretty much only takes time, I think they’ll actually enjoy the present for a year or two until Internet Players come fully integrated into Xbox 720, PS4 etc. (just a guess but it seems to be the trajectory of home gaming). And I only ever talk with Robb so Merry Christmas Boomer!

        • Boomer on December 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

          @Joe: thanks Joe, and all the best in the New Year!

  3. Bryan Jaskolka on December 30, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I agree with you on all points. If it’s something you would genuinely like to receive yourself, but you have no use for it or you’ve already got one, regifting is okay. If it’s for any other reason, it’s not. Really simple rules, real easy to follow.

  4. Anne @ Unique Gifter on January 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Such common sense, but people seem to screw it up all the time! This Christmas I regifted a cordless drill that I won at the company Christmas party. Everyone knew, but that sure didn’t take away from the luster of a $100 new toy!
    We also regift wine all the time. We’ll usually go out and buy ourselves a replacement bottle of the same thing, but it often happens that the nicer bottles we have on hand are ones that someone else has given us, so we grab them and go.

  5. Tacky on November 28, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Should I return a book that was given to me in a gift bag wrapped in tissue paper with names enclosed other than mines?

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