Regifting Etiquette

Regifting, if done improperly, can lead to disaster (imagine giving your best friend the scarf she gave you last year). However, if you follow some basic rules of regifting etiquette, regifting can be a “do.” With a few simple regifting tips you can find homes for like-new items you cannot use.

Regifting Etiquette: What Can I Regift?

Some items are easier and more appropriate to regift than others. Gift cards are easy to regift (so long as they retain their original value, of course). You can regift items in excellent condition, particularly if you still have the original packaging. For example, your mother-in-law gave you a nice food processor for Christmas last year. Unfortunately, you already have a food processor, and she did not give you a gift receipt. Since you never even opened this new food processor, it could be a great candidate for regifting.

Some items should not be regifted, or should be regifted with caution. Avoid embarrassment by considering the following regifting tips:

  • Be sure not to repeat gifts in the same circle; for example, give gifts given to you by family members to your friends.
  • Do not regift personalized or monogrammed items.
  • Do not regift used items; a hand-me-down is not the same thing as a regift.
  • If you regift without rewrapping, be sure to remove the tag with your name on it!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you are giving the item because you think it is just right for someone on your list, not because you are feeling pressured to finish your holiday gift giving.

Do I Have to Tell That I’m Regifting?

The short answer is no. If the item is relatively new, in new condition (in the original packaging, if appropriate) and rewrapped, you are within proper gift etiquette if you do not disclose the gift’s origins.

In some cases, however, you may wish to let your recipient in on the secret. For example, if you give your friend a set of expensive crystal stemware given to you by your parents, informing her of their “regift” status will prevent her from feeling that she owes you an equally expensive gift. Similarly, if you buy a gift for your brother but think the framed sports team picture you got from a friend would also be perfect for him, you can tell him so he does not feel that his single gift to you is insufficient.

The Humorous Side of Regifting

Some families make a humorous holiday tradition of regifting. Sometimes the target gift begins as a true attempt at good gift giving; sometimes, it’s a joke from the start. Either way, that singing fish or tacky painting makes repeat appearances in some families, whether given to one recipient, or inserted in a Yankee swap or white elephant exchange as a surprise for one unlucky friend or family member. Hiding the dreaded gift in camouflaging gift wrap can be elevated to an art form.