We’ve all been there. At some point in our life, we forgot to buy someone a gift and decided that the perfume we got last Christmas was a good enough item to wrap up and gift to someone else. Regifting is a common practice (albeit not commonly talked about). Technically speaking, it’s not a bad thing to do. If you receive something you don’t need, giving it to someone else who would like it is better than letting it gather dust or throwing it out.
But—and that’s a BIG but—there are rules for regifting. Though most of these unspoken rules are common sense, a little refresher wouldn’t hurt.
The don’ts of regifting
Do not regift the present to the person who gave it to you
Obvious, right? But this has happened (yes, this is firsthand experience). Over the years, people tend to collect presents from family and friends and time just has a way of mixing up the who’s of the situation. Regifting to the person who gave it to you though? Inexcusable. It’s bad taste and shows a blatant lack of appreciation for the gift and the person who gave it.
Please do yourself a favor and never do this.
Do not regift something you would hate to receive
If the item in your current possession is something you wouldn’t want gift- wrapped and sent to you, don’t do the same. If you’re pressed for time and the item you’re thinking of throwing in a paper bag before sending is a little damaged, on the brink of falling apart or generally unfit for use, just chuck it out the window. A gift is something you give someone for them to enjoy, and if they can’t even use it, don’t bother.
Try not to regift things that hold sentimental value from the original gifter
Let’s say you’ve received a bracelet from a former significant other. While the relationship has gone up in smoke, the trinket still remains in your vanity drawer. A friend’s birthday is coming up, and you think this would make a great gift. This would be fine, but the bracelet still holds intentions from your ex-flame.
It’s just bad juju.
For storied items like jewelry and other things that hold sentimental value, regifting is a no-go. Period. Instead, you might just opt to repurpose it into something else (or you know, send it back to the person who gave it to you if that relationship has really gone up in smoke).
The do’s of regifting
Make sure the recipient will actually appreciate and use the gift
If you’re just gifting for gifting’s sake (or worse, if you just want to get rid of things), better not give a gift at all. Again, gifts are supposed to be something you give a person for their happiness and/or use. If you think the recipient will just create a regifting chain after opening up your present, an I.O.U. might be better.
Make sure it’s decently wrapped
Time is of the essence here, but that doesn’t mean shoving your gift into an old paper bag and calling it a day will give you the all-clear. Although reusing old gift bags is great for the environment, make sure there’s no obvious wear and tear on it. Better yet, put some extra effort in your gift by wrapping it in upcycled fabric or something the recipient can use, like a cute canvas bag.
Add a handwritten dedication to ease the guilt
Your present may be a regift, but it’s always the thought that counts. Though you were pressed for time, you still came through with a present for someone. Adding a handwritten note on a card will make that gift extra special, because it’s actually coming from you. It’ll also do wonders to ease the guilt you might feel for regifting. But really, though, there’s not much to feel guilty about if you’ve followed all the rules.
Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.
Writer: ANDREIANA YUVALLOS