The official term “regifting” may only have been made popular over the last generation by one iconic episode of Seinfeld, but the act itself has been around just about as long as people have been giving gifts. It’s simply a way for folks to make use of presents they can’t use, or aren’t particularly interested in. But the notion of finding a perfectly good gift a new home occasionally ruffles some feathers and hurts some feelings when the original gifter finds out about it. That’s why there’s a subtle art to pulling off this feat.
To this end, all those thinking about passing a gift along need to have a firm plan of attack in order to ensure success. That may sound extreme, but since a regifting failure can lead to a strain on friendships and relationships, it’s best to take every precaution. Here’s how to go about it.
1. Regifts should always be new items.
This is the number 1 rule and, to be honest, a bit of a no-brainer, but people tend to fudge the boundaries of what constitutes “new” when it comes to the regiving of gifts. Maybe someone wears an article of clothing out just once or takes that bread maker for a test spin and figures the item is still good to give away. It isn’t. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and not re-gift anything that doesn’t appear exactly how it does on the rack or on the shelf. After all, it can be a real buzzkill for the re-giftee to have to hear, “I know it’s out of the package, but I never used it,” or, “the tags may be missing, but I never wore the sweater,” with their supposed present.
2. Ensure the gift is appropriate.
It’s crucial to take the recipient’s tastes and lifestyle into account when regifting. Unloading a gift just because you don’t want it is never a smart place from which to operate. Presenting a vegetarian a meat tenderizer or giving a video game to someone without a console, for example, is always going to be a bad move. That might seem obvious, but the same would be true about a shirt that isn’t close to the giftee’s style, or a piece of art that just doesn’t match their home.
Inappropriate regifting can even be taken as an insult. After all, passing off a gift card for a gym membership to someone with no interest in working out will probably lead to big problems. Some items that are always good for regifting include: toys, baby clothes, kitchen appliances and electronics.
3. Regift under the radar.
Stealth has a big place in the world of regifting. One of the worst outcomes is that word gets back to the original gifter, and it’s even worse when it’s the re-giftee who blabs about it. Above all else, it is important to ensure that no regifted items can be traced back to the original gifter, so don’t regift in the same social circles.
Also, if the gift is sentimental to the giver, or the giver will think it’s sentimental to you, it may not be a good idea to part with it at all. Stick to regifting fairly generic items that don’t have a personal attachment.
4. Save gifts for later.
Nowhere is it written that a person must regift in any particular timeframe. Many folks who find themselves with gifts they can’t otherwise use will create a “gift closet” in which to store the item for later giving. This allows the regifter to strategically plan for occasions where the items can be put to the best use.
Many people save enough items that they significantly cut down on the cost of holiday shopping. This is a win-win for everyone involved, so long as you label where the gift came from in the first place, and don’t give it back! However, if a gift has been sitting around getting old and gathering dust, it may be better-suited for donation than regift.
Ultimately, the rules of etiquette concerning regifting aren’t drastically different from those governing common politeness. In fact, the golden rule of “do unto others…” can be applicable here as well. After all, would you want a used boogie board as a holiday gift? Especially if you didn’t know how to swim or even live near the water?
This is a guest post by Deborah Phillips. Deborah is a busy mom of three and a staff writer for gift recommendation website GiftPlum.com, a place for people to easily find unique and interesting gift ideas