Raise your hand if you’ve ever received a gift you either didn’t like, or knew, deep down, you’d never actually put it to good use. Now raise your hand if you’ve ever been tempted to re-gift that same item. I know it sounds cheap, and you probably feel at least an ounce of shame if you’ve been there, done that, but it’s really not a crime to give a gift you’ve already been given, especially if you’ve figured out how to re-gift without getting caught. After all, it’s the thought, not how much you spend, that counts, right?
Think of it this way: We're taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle, right? In my opinion, re-gifting is the perfect example of that very practice. By wrapping up an item and offering it as a present to someone who you know for a fact will love and appreciate the gesture, you're a) reducing your holiday spending, b) reusing the item yourself, and c) recycling by passing it along instead of tossing it in the trash. If you think of it that way, re-gifting is nothing to be ashamed of, but rather, it’s something to be proud of — that is, unless you re-gift said item to the person who originally gave it to you. Now that, my friends, is a major faux-pas.
Even though there's technically nothing wrong with re-gifting, there are some do’s and don’ts to be aware of.
I repeat: Re-gifting is not a selfish act. In fact, it’s pretty thoughtful if you ask me. Even though, yes, someone — be it a friend, loved one, or co-worker — spent time and money picking out a gift they thought you’d like, you shouldn’t feel bad if the present turns out to be something that will most likely sit in a closet collecting dust. Rather than letting the thoughtful gesture rot in a corner somewhere, I fully believe handing it off to someone who will genuinely appreciate its worth is doing right by the original gift-giver.
Still, some people have a huge gripe with re-gifting, so it’s probably best to follow proper etiquette to make sure you’re not offending anyone at this year’s exchange. The biggest, and arguably most important rule of thumb is to keep tabs on not only who the original gift-giver was, but also who you opened the present in front of. Jot down the names of everyone in the room either on your phone or on a post-it note, so you know exactly who not to re-gift that item to.
Once you know who you can and cannot re-gift to, the next step is to erase all evidence that the gift you're giving has already been given. That means all to/from tags need to go, and don’t you dare even think about scratching off the serial numbers to double-check how much that gift card is worth. Present that sucker with a box of chocolates, and call it a day.
You should be mindful of who you're gifting to, but also what it is exactly that you're re-gifting.
Here’s where re-gift-givers can go very wrong around the holidays: Aside from the obvious issue of giving to the person who originally gave you said gift, something to consider when you’re looking to wrap up an item in Christmas-themed paper and offer it to a loved one is whether or not it’s something they’ll actually want.
For instance, let’s say you happen to come across an old iTunes gift card stuffed in a drawer, and you know for a fact you’d rather listen to a song for free on YouTube than pay five bucks for a download. You probably wouldn’t slip it into your technologically-challenged father’s holiday card, because chances are, even though dear ol’ Dad will appreciate the gesture, he’ll have no clue what to do with it.
The same goes for that beige tote you got for free at an alumni meeting for your alma mater. As the saying goes, "free is for me;" it's not for your giftee. Mental Floss notes that if you or the original gift-giver didn't pay for it, you really shouldn't pass it off as a present. Make sure the gift you're giving has at least some sort of value, whether it be monetary or sentimental.
If you do get caught re-gifting, the best thing you can do is own up to it.
If you follow re-gifting protocol to a T, the chances of you getting caught should be slim to none.
However, these things happen, and if the giftee or original gift-giver is ballsy enough to call you out on passing out pre-owned gifts, the worst thing you can do is try to lie your way out of it. Instead, own up to your idea and cut your losses.
Bottom line: Don't let anyone shame you for spreading the (pre-purchased) love and saving cash around the holidays. Chances are, they're just jealous of your genius (and maybe a little sour that you didn't love the gift, but hey, there's always next year).