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Regifting: What to Do With Your Unwanted Gifts

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Regifting Environment Reduce Waste Save

Regifting is when you give a gift that’s been given to you away to someone else, usually as a gift or just as a goodwill gesture. You may give the gift away because you already have one like it, it doesn’t fit, or frankly, because it isn’t to your taste and you know that you won’t use it.

The term regifting is more popular in America than the UK, but it’s a practice and a term that is also gaining attention in the UK. Some say that the term regifting in fact originated on the hit US TV show Seinfeld. The term regifting is now an entry in the Macmillan English Dictionary.

On first hearing about regifting some people’s initial reaction may be to recoil in horror at how rude and ungrateful it is. However, when you think about whether it’s better to completely waste a gift or for someone to actually get some use and pleasure out of it, regifting doesn’t seem half as bad. The public’s acceptance of regifting is also growing as a 2007 survey in America (MMI Regifting Survey) showed that 58% of the population felt that regifting was acceptable, up 4% on the previous 2005 survey.

Regifting can be a good way to save money, conserve resources and cut down clutter.

The Etiquette of Regifting

Despite the benefits of regifting and the growing acceptance of it, it would still be crushingly embarrassing to regift a present back to the person that originally gave it to you. Equally blush-inducing would be regifting a present on and forgetting to remove the tag addressed to you first. To avoid gnawing your knuckles in shame when regifting make sure you think carefully first.

It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised at some of the horror stories you hear and read about people not remembering exactly who gave them a gift and…well you know what happens next! If it’s an occasion like a wedding where you’ll be receiving lots of gifts, keep a list of who gave what. This will be handy for sending thank you notes anyway. That way there’s no chance of the unthinkable happening. Having said that, if someone happens to regift you with a lovely gift that you gave them it’s probably best to just smile graciously and vow to get them a gift voucher next year.

Don’t give free stuff away as a ‘thoughtful gift’, unless it’s really perfect for the recipient or you tell them the situation. Wrapping up free pens and key rings from work as a birthday present is just wrong. Offer them around by all means but not as a present!

Even though you may have kept a detailed record of who gave you what, it’s still best to err on the side of caution when regifting. If at all possible pass the gift on to someone who is unlikely to ever meet the original gift giver.

Always re-wrap the present and add a new card. Check and double check that no little personal note addressed to you has been secreted anywhere, or that there is no gift card for you in the bottom of the box or anything.

Don’t regift something just because you want rid of it and there is an impending birthday or Christmas that you don’t want to shop for. Doing this could result in further regifting or wastage! Try to regift things to people that you feel will genuinely appreciate them.

If someone has made or bought something specifically for you, for example if it’s handmade or personal to you in some way, think very carefully before you regift it on. Toasters are ten-a-penny, home-embroidered pillow cases with a hand-drawn design are not. If a gift has some sentimental value, it’s bad form to regift it.

If all this sounds like hard work, you could just be honest and tell the regift recipient something like: “I got this and it’s not quite me but I thought of you straight away”.

When done with thought regifting can be environmentally friendly, frugal and fun. Just remember the rules!

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