An etiquette expert weighs in on how (and when) you can regift.

We’ve all been there—you open a nicely wrapped gift on Christmas morning, smile, and say 'thank you,' even though you know you won’t ever use the gift. But is it ever OK to give that present to someone who actually will use it? The idea of regifting has been taboo for years, but it's becoming more acceptable—and there are actually a few reasons you should consider it this year. 

We chatted with Valerie Sokolosky, author and etiquette expert, about why she says it's OK to regift presents this season. "We’ve all received lovely—even expensive—gifts that we simply can’t use, already have, or won’t fit our lifestyle or decor," she says. "Why not share the loveliness with someone who can or does appreciate it’s use?"

small kraft paper-wrapped gift with bow in hands
Credit: Jacob Fox

Using recycled products is on our list of Christmas decor trends this year—but reusing isn’t just limited to holiday decorating. Thousands of unwanted gifts end up in the landfill each year, adding up to more than 5 billion pounds of holiday waste. And unwanted items that aren't thrown away can end up tucked away inside a closet for years.

The holidays are a financially stressful time for many people. Rather than stretching your budget to buy something new for each person on your list, it’s perfectly acceptable to regift items you’ve received but never used. Or, consider gifting items you own that have sentimental value, like a well-worn book you used to read your kids. A heartfelt inscription on the front cover can transform this used gift into something they’ll appreciate forever.

Regifting Etiquette 

So how should you go about regifting your gifts? While there are no hard and fast rules, there are a few things to keep in mind: Sokolosky shares her best re-gifting etiquette to save you from making any holiday faux pas this season.

Be Sure It Makes Sense

Sokolosky's number one tip is to make sure the gift makes sense. "Just as any gift, make sure it is something you would have thought to purchase for the person," she says. Know the recipient well enough that you’re certain it will be meaningful to them personally. "One year I received two top of the line juicers for fruits and vegetables. I re-gifted one to a friend on a special diet knowing how helpful that would be for her. Indeed—it was!"

Presentation Is Everything

Once you've decided on a recipient for your gift, double check the packaging. There's nothing worse than receiving a gift, only to find someone else's name on the original gift tag. Before you give your gift, be sure to take off any gift tags, personal notes or store tags. Then, repackage the gift in a new box, with new wrappings and a new box. "Be proud of giving it," Sokolosky recommends.

Think of It As a 'Renewed Gift'

If you’re not specifically asked about a gift, you don’t have to tell anyone it was regifted. While some people say you should let someone know you’re giving them a regifted present, whether you do or not is totally up to you. As long as you’re giving them something relatively new and unused that you know they’ll appreciate, it doesn’t matter whether you paid full price, got it on sale, or were given the item as a gift. "If you come from the heart with an attitude of allowing someone to enjoy a gift you don’t need or it’s not a fit, then your regift is more a renewed gift," Sokolosky says.

Don’t Regift within the Same Group 

A good rule of thumb is to separate family and friend gifts. If you receive a gift from a family member, you can likely give it to a friend without anyone in the family knowing—and vice versa. If you know immediately that you want to regift something you’re given, grab a sticky note and write down the name of the person who gave it to you, along with the date. This will ensure that you don’t give the gift back to the person who gave it to you in the first place.

Be Honest

While you're certainly not obligated to tell either party that your gift is regifted, you should be prepared to be honest. If your aunt comes over and asks about the blender she bought you, let her know you really appreciated the gesture, but you gave it to a friend or family member who could use it more than you could. 


Be the first to comment!