regiftingShould you or Shouldn’t You? How to be a Thoughtful Regifter by Heidi Richards Mooney

Okay, admit it! You have given away a gift that wasn’t exactly to your liking, haven’t you? Well if you haven’t it is likely you thought about it. After all, just because the tea set doesn’t match your dinner ware, doesn’t mean its not a great gift for someone you know. A tea drinker. Who loves fancy cups and saucers, I imagine.

And then there’s those things we get like clothing and jewelry that don’t exactly match our personal style. Maybe you know someone who would appreciate them and actually get some use out of the gift, or not. And therein lies the challenge. What to regift and what not to regift. Should you return it, give it away ro regift.

Yes, ’tis the season to be giving and receiving with gracious gratitude, but lets be honest. Note every gift is going to be put to use. And the only thing worse than a gift we can’t use is a gift we can’t or won’t use that sits for years in a closet unopened because we didn’t have the heart to do something worthwhile with it.

Anytime you have the option of returning a gift for the right size, color or something more suitable, that is perfectly acceptable. I mean if someone gives you a gift and guessed at your size (I have a family member who is notorious for buying the wrong sizes. The only problem is she buys them on clearance and often there are no more even remotely close to what she first picked out. They are often really pretty but not always something I will ever wear. Gift receipts come in really handy for these types of returns. Make sure if you are the giver of the gift, to include one – just in case.

According to Peggy Post (great granddaughter to Emily Post) “It’s okay as long as people’s feelings won’t be hurt. The gift must be brand new and it can’t be something the original giver took great pains to select.”

One year someone gave me a bread maker, that to this day I never used. But my sister in law loves to bake bread and so I asked her if she would like it and she was simply delighted! I would never give that type of gift to someone who didn’t have it on their “wish list” or had told me directly they wanted a bread baker. But some people would.

I should also admit right now that most of the gifts I receive don’t end up going to people I know well. I most often use them as door prizes for events I attend or raffle/auction items. This of course, only works with NEW gifts. But then again if it was used, it would not be proper to regift.

If you receive a duplicate gift (something you already have) maybe its time you passed the older one on to someone else who could get some use out of them.

 Here are 15 things to keep in mind when deciding to regift:

1. Who gave you the gift (I keep a slip of paper either in the box the gift came in or on a bag I store the gift in. That saves embarrassment not to regift to someone who gave the gift to me in the first place.

2. Use caution when tossin’ – if the item is something the person who gave them to you loves and you want to stay in her/his good graces, don’t immediately get “rid” of the gift. You never know when the question will arise during a visit “sweetie, where are those lovely crystal candle holders I gave you for Christmas last year?”

3. Only regift items in their original package. The gift should be in the same condition it was when it was purchased.

4. Never regift handmade or personalized items. Or perishables.

5. If you do regift food items with a long shelf life, be sure to check expiration dates first. Never give away “expired” food.

6. Don’t regift outdated technology such as software, or other electronics unless you know for certain the recipient will be “thrilled” to receive such a gift.

7. Only regift to someone you truly believe would love the gift. Otherwise it isn’t really a gift, it’s a hand-me-down.

8. Think before you regift. If you are almost 100% sure that no one will have hurt fealings if you regift, then by all means do so. Otherwise, don’t do it!

9. If you do plan to regift, be sure you wrap it up nice and pretty. Make it look important and the recipient will feel important when she/he gets your gift.

Alternatives to regifting:

10. Give them to organizations that can resell or give them to people in need.

11. Sell them at a yard sale (be careful you don’t invite the gift giver over to help.

12. Use as a raffle or door prize at an event. I often get gifts from our readers that go almost untouched (books being the only exception). I will either give those away during a meeting, or create a lovely gift basket filled with nice items to use as a door prize. These baskets are often the most popular items with the highest number of “bidders.”

13. Contact – a social network filled with people from all over the United States who want to pass things on to others who could use them. “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,004 groups with 8,854,844 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills”. Freecycle is free to join.

14. Check out – similar to Freecycle, on a smaller scale.

15. Sell those unwanted (but useful) gifts on eBay or CraigsList. You can use the money earned to buy gifts for others (or yourself) that are wanted. Or you can donate the proceeds to a charity.

And finally, remember this, “regifting is simply another term for “recycling” which means its good for the planet. Better to end up in someone else’s closet than a landfill.


This article is excerpted from the Holiday Gift Guide for 2011 . Be sure and check it out and read other articles about the holidays. It’s also great to add to your online shopping experience!