Regift Without Getting Caught

Don’t frown when you get awful, impractical gifts. They can serve as valuable currency in the countless occasions in your life in which you’re required to distribute trinkets to people you don’t know or care much about.

Dealnews helps out with a primer on how to regift pointless baubles while avoiding the nightmare scenario of someone calling you out on your charade.

The post advises resurrecting run-down regifted items into like-new state – for instance, swapping out heads of bobblehead dolls or repackaging materials stuck in crusty, worn-down boxes. Also, be sure to use discretion in who you give which gifts to, making sure the present is fit for the occasion and recipient.

Failing the ability to preserve the illusion, you’re best off coming clean about your process and boasting that you’re being clever and eco-friendly by keeping gifts in circulation rather than dumping them in landfills.

What’s the regifting expedition you pulled off that you’re most proud of?

Seasons Repeatings: How To Regift And Not Get Caught [Dealnews]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Muddie says:

    Mixed CD’s are the best regifting. Taking something I didn’t make, re-packaging it, and giving it to someone else! Never got busted for it, either.

  2. JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a regift. But then again, there are obviously people out there that are Sneaky Petes.

  3. pop top says:

    When my best friend went to Nicaragua, she brought back beautiful handmade puzzle jewelry boxes, bracelets and necklaces. I got a dead, stuffed frog with “Nicaragua” written in cursive, with a black marker, down the side. The following year I went to my first White Elephant Xmas party and wrapped that up. It was a huge hit and was the most-stolen gift of the night.

  4. jaydez860 says:

    Last year I went to a faily part with my fiance where there was a grab-bag. We didn’t want to spend any money so we went shopping in my mom’s basement. We found a Mickey Mousy Christmans Carousel lighted tree set, complete with animation and sound! It had been in my parents’ basement for 15+ years since my grandfather gave it to them. We attached that box with bleach and water to get the mildew smell off it and wrapped it up… Surprisingly it was a hit and the people who got it loved it.

  5. JulesNoctambule says:

    Make sure you’ve checked the item for inscriptions (especially in the case of books) and for not-that-obvious tags with your name on it. My weird aunt regifted us at our wedding with a crystal picture frame that still had a tag with ‘For [weird aunt]’s wedding’ stuck to the bottom! I feel no shame at all when it comes to regifting her these days.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    My mom buys me trendy jewelry (not grown up jewelry, is what I mean) she thinks I would like, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings so I’ve never said anything. I don’t have anything against cheapish jewelry because one of my favorite necklaces was $10 from Target, it’s just that what she buys me is not something I would’ve picked for myself and it’s just not my style. Her track record with buying me jewelry has been woeful, and I quickly told her “gift card” this year when she asked if I wanted jewelry. And it’s bizarre how far off the mark she can get because two years ago she gave me a gorgeous crystal necklace, and the year after this plasticky beaded thing from Kohls.

    I can’t regift any of it because it’s not something I think is something anyone in a corporate environment would wear, and I can’t gift it to kids because they’re either too young or they’re family.

    • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

      My future-mom-in-law knows for a fact that I am a minimalist when it comes to jewelry (earrings and engagement ring, then wedding ring in a few months) and yet she ALWAYS insists on buying me pink jewelry, mostly pearls. Of course, I act like they’re the coolest things ever but she never asks why I don’t wear it. if she does, i think I’ll tell her my cats tore them apart.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I like pearls and I have some faux pearls, but pink ones? Yikes.

        • qwickone says:

          I like pink pearls! I’m brown and they look awesome with my skin tone. I only wear them when I want to look super preppy though, so networking events mostly.

    • thelauhingsun says:

      So, sell it on ebay :)

      “Regift” the profits, or keep it and buy yourself something nice :)

      Or…take Kohl’s up on that “any thing, any time, with or without receipt” policy they’ve been advertising and try returning some of it. Worst thing that can happen is that they give you store credit.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    “They can serve as valuable currency in the countless occasions in your life in which you’re required to distribute trinkets to people you don’t know or care much about.”

    Therein lies the reason that people don’t know or care much about you either.

    • veritybrown says:

      Perhaps you’re fortunate enough that the only people in your life to whom you have social obligations are people that you really like and care about. The vast majority of human beings don’t have that luxury.

  8. samonela says:

    Every year my family has this ridiculous Christmas Tree Ornament Exchange party.

    1) We don’t get a tree and never will

    2) It’s always held at this ridiculously overpriced (yet somehow historic in my area) Mexican restaurant with mediocre service and even worse food.

    While my wife and I enjoy being with family and all, this get together always just seemed so forced.

    So every year we would totally halfass our ornament getting the cheapest, ugliest thing we could find. Well last year I finally had the idea of, “hey why don’t we just keep what we get this year, and bring it back next year?!?”

    So we got our ornament, never even unwrapped it (as they come wrapped as gifts at the party) and stashed it away all year. This year (the party just happened this past Sunday) it was the MOST entertained I have ever been at this party!! It was so exciting waiting to see what was in the box…what kind of ornament did we get/give?? Turns out it was a little angel in a snow globe type thing that played music. And the batteries were still good after sitting for a year!

    We will be repeating the process next year and have already stashed what we got on Sunday…

    • dorianh49 says:

      Curious as to the name of the restaurant, because you just described “The Bank” in Temecula, right down the street from where I work. I’ve eaten there three times in my life, and each time was worse than the last.

    • Emerald4me says:

      It sounds like that Mexican restaurant at Universal City Walk. Over priced and very blah food.

    • selianth says:

      Wait, how did you never even unwrap it? Does everyone just put the wrapped ornaments on a table then everyone grabs one and opens it or not if they want? (I’ve only been to Yankee Swap parties where there’s trading involved, so of course everyone watches while each person unwraps the gift they chose.) What happens if the person who gave you the ornament this year gets it back next year? Will you feel any shame at all? (In your situation, I’m not sure I would!!)

    • samonela says:

      As far as unwrapping it…all the gift wrapped ornaments are on a table and people all put their name in a box. When your name is pulled, you go up and grab a gift (but not yours…they caught me doing that one year too), then you pull the name of the next person. with about 30-40 people in attendance at a restaurant, nobody noticed last year or this year that we didn’t unwrap ours…and to answer the other question, if I were caught, I’d have little to no feelings of shame. “it’s just great to be with family.”

      As far as which restaurant, I think every city in Southern California (dare I say the whole state) has that one “historic-yet-overpriced-and-overrated Mexican restaurant.”

  9. EdnasEdibles says:

    My mom is very much into holiday decorations–Christmas coasters, cocktail plates, guest towels, etc. I would tell her time and again that I don’t like those sorts of holiday decorations but she still gives them to me. Then my office started a white elephant exchange. Every year I’d bring a little holiday thing and wrap it up. The older ladies at my office would fight over it and be shocked that I wanted to give it up.

    My worst re-gift that I received? A friend complained endlessly to me that her boyfriend’s mother got her a $10 gift card to American Eagle. She was like “I’m not 12! And what the hell can I buy for $10?!” — two months later on my birthday, wedged in my card, was a $10 gift card to American Eagle with a snow scene on the front. I bought some sunglasses so it went to use but it’s best to not send the regift to someone that you complained to when you initially received the gift.

    • exit322 says:

      Maybe your reaction made it seem to her that you’d have liked the gift instead?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I would love an American Eagle gift card because their jeans are awesome. But I would never let on that I like American Eagle jeans because I’d be too afraid that someone would assume I liked everything else in the store, or the style like it I just like the denim.

  10. Destra says:

    I have allergies and often get presents from friends and families that would harm me if I use them. When I’m not close enough to the person to tell them upfront that I can’t accept the gift, I’ll save the gift for re-gifting later. To avoid the re-gifting to the original gifter, I’ll tie a note to the gift saying who it was from, and stick it in my wrapping paper box. That way I’ve got a handy go-to present for someone at the drop of the hat.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      That’s a good idea for any decent gift that doesn’t suit. I’ve gotten things that weren’t my style, didn’t match my decor, etc. but were perfectly good. An emergency gift box in the closet would be a lifesaver for those awkward “Oh no, I don’t have anything for them” moments. You could go through the box at the start of the holiday season to check if everything was still okay, and to refresh your memory as to what is in there. And of course, like Destra said, tag it first so you don’t accidentally give it back to the giver!

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Yeah, I used to (and still occasionally) get scented things that would make me very, very ill to use.

  11. babyruthless says:

    Slap a post-it on it so you don’t accidentally give it back to the original gifter. We got a few ugly picture frames for our wedding (covered in hearts and bells and whatnot). They are earmarked to go to people we don’t like very much.

    • 339point4 says:

      Why give gifts at all to people you don’t like very much?

    • whyt says:

      The year my brother got married I got a picture frame from him and his wife. It was white ceramic with roses and bells. I don’t know why they’d think I’d enjoy a white wedding picture frame if they didn’t and they were the ones that got married.

  12. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    White elephant exchanges are great for regifting. Someone always has to give the bad gift, so why not make it a regift?

  13. 339point4 says:

    My colleague gives me the same Truman Capote book frequently (2 out of every 3 christmases or so) and asks me, “Have you read this yet?” Yes. The first year you gave it to me and several times since.
    Thankfully, she never inscribes the books, and I’ve found several happy regift recipients.

    She’s a really awesome person, and she knows me very well, it’s just that she’s got not such a terrific memory for these sorts of things.

  14. hotdogsunrise says:

    When I was younger, I got a cute snowman bottle of lotion for my grandmother. The next year, she gave it back to me. She was a notorious re-gifter, but it still hurts to get back a present that you gave to the same person!

    • ElizabethD says:

      Don’t be hurt. Many grandmas (and mine was the queen of this, bless her soul) grew up having to be super-thrifty and the habit stays with them. My gram had an upstairs room that was basically filled with gifts that she would re-gift. The nice cardigan my mom bought her? “Too nice to wear around the house,” so it would go next year to someone else! And so on. We had to save even tiny squares of used wrapping paper so she could use them again. She even cut the bottoms off greeting cards and re-sent them with a new signature!

      When gram died, you could have held a flea market with all the stuff in her re-gifting room. We donated it all to the Salvation Army.

      Their hearts are usually in the right place, and frugality was an über-virtue for earlier generations. Enjoy her while she’s with you; not to get maudlin, but I’d give anything to have another Christmas with my gram, silly re-gifts and all.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Heh. My grandmother was really excellent at tactful regifting. I learned this the first year my parents gave my brothers and me money to buy Grandma something for Christmas. We might have been 7, 9, and 11 that year.

        We went out at separate times on gift-buying trips with one parent or the other, and all three of us kids independently decided that a classy lady like Grandma who had everything and a big fancy house to put it in could be given no prettier or classier gift than colored bath beads in fancy packaging. So Christmas comes, and Grandma’s eyebrows float off into the air as she unwraps package after package of… bath beads. Her only comment was, “Are you guys trying to tell me something?”

        After the adult laughter died down, she asked if it was OK if she shared some of them with her best friends since there were “just too many of them” for her to use herself. Decent of her to be respectful about it.

  15. Mr Grey says:

    My wife and I have re gifted A LOT of our wedding gifts. We were both in our earlier thirties, and didn’t need anything. We held on to our gift list, and made sure we cross referenced it as we gifted.

    • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

      I’m so afraid of getting crappy gifts for our wedding… I know, I know, I should be “happy I’m getting a gift at all” but I’d rather get nothing than ugly picture frames or fifteen gravy boats. I’m praying to Jesus/Allah/Buddah/Giant Spaghetti Monster that everyone just sticks to the registry or gives us cash. :(

      • ZenMasterKel says:

        Did the Giant Spagetti Monster bring you a Wii for Christmas?

      • What’s your problem, Kazanski? says:

        I think you meant the Flying Spaghetti Monster..

      • Mr Grey says:

        I wanted to ask for cash – but then I thought that was pretty tacky.
        We just donated a lot of decorative towels, and flowery dishware, and kept some stuff for gifting.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        I try to buy things on the registry that are easily returnable, actually. That way if you accidentally get two of them, I know you can just get the cash instead, which I am perfectly OK with.

    • scgirl_212 says:

      We got married in October, and we asked for money, why do I need 3 toasters to give away? Here’s how you get around it..we asked for contributions for our honeymoon fund. I wouldn’t actually set up an account, or a honeymoon registry, they’re a hassle!

      We ended up getting way more than we would have with gifts. We did set up a small registry at Macy’s for people who were uncomfortable giving money, we didn’t get anything off it though.

  16. LightningUsagi says:

    I regifted to my sister last year. My ex-sister-in-law sent me a nice necklace, but it wasn’t something I would ever wear. We’d opened the gifts from that side of the family early Christmas morning, and weren’t due at my mom’s house until later, so I rewrapped it and took it with me to the second round of gifting. When she opened it, she loved it, but my ex and I couldn’t hold back the giggles from it, and I had to confess. She didn’t care, and I’ve seen her wear it several times, and my mother even bought something similar because she liked it so much.

  17. Outrun1986 says:

    If you don’t want a gift you get and its non returnable look for a gift donation drive in your area that collects unwanted gifts and gives them to people who could use them. I am sure a needy person would be happy with whatever you didn’t want, even if it is something really stupid and tacky. If you get unwanted body lotion or cosmetics you could always donate them to a women’s shelter as they often need those things.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Excellent idea. If you travel for the holidays, by the way, and you stay in hotels, make sure you collect the assorted small bottles and soaps you’re given each day that you don’t use. In many localities, there are regulations that say the staff must put everything out fresh every day and dispose of the unused toiletries. Shame to waste them, when it’s true that shelters are in constant need of them. (I have to admit I was a bit greedy when I stayed at a top-notch hotel last month and their toiletries were L’Occitane Lemon Verbena, for which I have a personal weakness.)

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        With the 3-oz. or less liquid TSA regs now, I always take some and save them for the next time I fly. If I’m not going to be staying somewhere long, they’re great to stick in my quart bag, especially the little lotions.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Great idea, but even someone who is needy does not want tacky and terrible gifts. Give something that is good quality, but just not your taste, but don’t give the truly horrible gifts!

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        One person’s tacky is another person’s terrible — believe me! I shop for my husband’s relatives by picking out what I personally find most appalling, and they love it.

  18. jennleighh says:

    My best friend’s birthday is Nov 21, and for the past twelve years I’ve gotten her something I really liked because. . .just over a month later it’s wrapped in snowflake paper and given to me for Christmas. I just accept it as a quirk on her part and plan accordingly.

    • cigsm says:

      Wait does she know that you know? Is it ALWAYS the exact same gift? That’s so weird! How could she not think that you’d remember 4 weeks after you gave it to her? I need the deets!

      • jennleighh says:

        I think by now she just doesn’t care. She is a lovely person, but EVERYONE in her social circle knows she’s terrible about gifts–it will either get returned, or regifted. Once I started buying her things I specifically liked it got so much easier. Last year, she even left my card on it.

        But she’s great in other ways, really!!!

  19. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    My brother was a lapidary and a collector. He had a number of crystal and gemstone skulls, of all things, that he left me when he killed himself last year after a long depression. Morbid, right? Besides, even though I do love crystals and gemstones (pretty rocks, OK), I find carved skulls irritatingly creepy.

    One of my friends who is into the woo-woo New Age stuff said the best way to “clear their energy” would be to “break the chain” and give them to someone who wouldn’t know about the unfortunate history of the original owner. Well, OK. So I took them to a get-together of friends who were also into New Age stuff. We had a couple of swap and sale tables in the front of the meeting room, and I was just going to put them on the swap table, but another lady acted shocked and told me to put them on the sale table instead. OK, fine. I think I cleared three hundred dollars, which I needed for Christmas anyway.

  20. Chu-Chu says:

    Regifting? I do it all the time, but then, in my family we call that ‘Gag Gift Christmas’! Lots of fun to try and think of something you already own that you don’t want to give to another family member, mainly to make them laugh! Practicality isn’t part of the equation. The more they hate it or laugh at the fact it’s what you gave them, the better you did!

    It ROCKS!


  21. Jane_Gage says:

    I have to come into contact with scores of people all day (iroinc since I’m pretty sure I have boarderline personality disorder) so I usually end up regifting rhinovirus.

  22. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I appreciate that. Thanks. He was never the same after Dad died (they had a very codependent relationship) and had kind of gotten to the point where nobody could do anything else for him. We just told the kids that he hadn’t been well for a long time. They knew he wasn’t functioning, but they didn’t really understand why. But the adults are OK.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Oops, that was supposed to be a response to HogwartsProfessor (and decently hidden in the subcomments).

  23. Browncoat says:

    An ex-wife……

  24. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I have a friend who for the last 10 years (despite being told not to) has given me expensive bath sets with oils and lotions and whatnot. I’m allergic, and there are very few things I can put in bath water that doesn’t effect my skin. These are gorgeous gift baskets, so I re-gift them to my Grandmother who absolutely loves them. No worries about friend finding out, as she’s never met my Grandmother (and I doubt ever will.)

  25. bstewart says:

    I’m regifting something I got from a company Christmas party today. It’s a jewelry box that also functions as a picture frame. My girlfriend’s mom is getting it because it’s the cheapest alternative to not getting her anything at all.

  26. Intheknow says:

    At work we were just re-gifted with the EXACT same giant food basket we sent to that company 3 days earlier! They actually sent it back as a gift with our Christmas tag still on the bottom! Doctors and lawyers – ugh!

  27. venomroses says:

    Here’s a story about another person getting caught regifting:

    I work in a retail store on the customer service desk, so I deal with returns. Some items in our store are packaged for us and so on the barcode it also has the name of our store.

    A lady comes in and says she would like to return this gift she got because she’s never going to use it. It some kind of elephant table statue with our label on it. Because she doesn’t have any kind of receipt, I have to give her the lowest price from the last 90 days on store credit. So I have to check what the price was on my computer….

    The computer tells me that the product has been deleted and the amend status date for this item was in 2006! Four years ago! I have to tell her this of course because this means I can’t return it at all, because the item will no longer scan and theres no price data in the system anymore.