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10 Regifting Rules

6 Minute Read

Is it okay to regift?

You might not believe it, but that’s one of the most frequently asked questions we get around Christmastime.

It makes sense. You’re trying to save money and pay down debt, and you have this unopened vase from your last birthday sitting around your house collecting dust. So, is it okay to dust that box off, wrap it up, and give it away to someone else?

Of course it’s okay to regift—as long as you’re following a few rules! So before you rewrap that unopened vase, keep these regifting etiquette guidelines in mind.

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Basic Rules for Regifting

1. The gift should make sense.

While regifting is a great way to save money and declutter, don’t regift something for the sake of regifting it. If you didn’t like the gift, there’s a chance the new recipient won’t like it either.

As a general rule of thumb, only regift an item if it’s something you would have gone to the store and purchased for that person. They should have a use for it. In other words, if your sister has killed every houseplant she’s ever come in contact with, she’ll probably have no use for the herb-growing kit you got last year.

2. Take off the gift tag!

When you decide to regift the scarf your Aunt Susan gave you last year, make sure you take the old gift tag off the bag or box. Imagine the fun at your Christmas party when your friend Sarah opens up the gift bag addressed to you, signed "with love" from Aunt Susan. Talk about a regifting fail!

3. Don’t regift gifts you received from meaningful people.

Speaking of Aunt Susan, she took the time to pick out that scarf, even if it’s not your style. She’s so sweet, and you love her so much. Imagine the smile on her face when she sees you sporting that scarf at your next family gathering. Sometimes you just have to keep the gift to keep the peace.

4. Don’t regift family gifts.

This should go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway: Don’t give family heirlooms away. For example, your mom sentimentally gave you your grandmother’s ornate broach last month. You know you won’t wear it, but you have a friend who loves vintage items and would adore it. That’s fine, but please don’t regift that broach. Instead, hit up a thrift store for your friend and keep the broach in your jewelry box where it belongs.

5. Avoid regifting within the same circle of friends.

Here’s an embarrassing regifting scenario: Your friend Jen gave you a perfectly fine set of coffee mugs for your birthday this year. Only problem is, your cabinets are already filled to the brim with mugs and dishes. So you decide to regift the mugs to Amanda for Christmas. On New Year’s Day, you’re invited to brunch at Amanda’s house, and lo and behold, she pulls the mugs out of her cabinet and thanks you profusely for the gift—right in front of your mutual friend Jen. Now you’re embarrassed, and Jen’s feelings are hurt. Save yourself the humiliation and don’t regift if your friends are in the same social circle.

6. Beware of the regift that keeps on giving.

If an item has been sitting in your "regifting closet" for a couple years, you might not remember where it came from. Assume you’re always one regift away from giving the gift back to the original giver. Regifting is okay, but when we tell you to give back this holiday season, this isn’t what we’re talking about.

7. Give sooner rather than later.

In theory, fruitcake has an expiration date. But even if you’re not regifting an edible gift, remember that trends come and go and "it" gifts of yesteryear eventually become irrelevant. For example, there’s only very few people who want your unopened Wham! CD.

8. Regift in moderation.

Look, if you’re following these guidelines, regifting here and there is fine. But let’s not pretend we’re the Oprah Winfrey of regifting: "You get a regift! You get a regift! Everybody gets a regift!" With that strategy, you’re bound to regift the wrong item and end up hurting someone’s feelings. Plus, you could come across as just being plain cheap.

9. Rewrap the gift.

Rewrap everything—the box, the gift paper, the packaging. You don’t know what lurks deep inside that box. It could be a personal note to you or a second smaller gift you totally missed. Be thorough. At least by rewrapping, the gift feels fresh and offers your personal touch.

10. Be honest.

Maybe you accidentally regifted an iPhone case back to Jason, who gave it to you last year. Or maybe you forgot to take the gift tag off the bag. Okay, you screwed up. If you find yourself in that situation, own it. Sure, it’s embarrassing at first, but be honest about why you regifted the item and move on.

Certain items are great for regifting, while others are totally off-limits. To help you avoid a regifting mishap, here are some items that are great for regifting—and some that aren’t.

Great Regifting Ideas

  • New household items, such as small appliances, dish towels or blankets
  • Bath products, such as soaps, lotions or bubble baths
  • Gourmet foods, such as a tin of cookies, a canister of teas or a box of chocolates (remember to check the expiration date)
  • Unopened bottles of wine and other spirits
  • Candles
  • Gift cards (check to make sure the balance hasn’t expired and the card isn’t personalized to you)
  • Unopened gift baskets
  • Books in excellent condition
  • New-with-tags clothing (make sure the item is either relatively nondescript—like a scarf and gloves—or the perfect gift for the recipient)
  • Unopened perfume and fragrances
  • Inexpensive jewelry
  • Board games, toys and puzzles
  • Novelty or gag gifts

Avoid These Regifting Ideas

  • Anything monogrammed or handmade
  • Anything signed
  • Anything that’s been opened
  • Dated technology, like a GPS navigation system or an iPod
  • Opened CDs and Blu-rays
  • Anything that’s just plain bad (if you don’t like it, chances are the recipient won’t like it either)

Regifting can work (and save you money!) if you do it correctly. So when you’re considering a regift, remember these rules!

Or avoid a regifting catastrophe entirely by giving a gift that won’t need regifting. This holiday season, give someone a life-changing gift from the Dave Ramsey store. With gifts that suit a range of ages and budgets, you’re sure to find something they’ll love.

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