How To Be A Good Regifter, Because Sometimes You Just Have To Pass Along All Those Scented Candles & Picture Frames

Image courtesy of We'd never regift a kitty... (<a href="frankieleon>frankieleon)

We'd never regift a kitty... (<a href="frankieleon>frankieleon)

We’d never regift a kitty… (frankieleon)

It’s inevitable around the holidays: your anticipation when opening a beautifully wrapped gift from a friend or loved one turns into bafflement in a matter of seconds. Instead of appearing ungrateful, you smile and graciously thank the gift-giver while your mind is quickly churning out ways to keep that item from ever reaching some box in the back of your attic.

The most likely option: regifting. In 2013, a poll conducted by Consumer Reports on holiday gripes found that 20% of people who were unsatisfied with their present simply regifted it to others.

A quick survey of Consumerist Twitter followers also found that regifting was a viable option for finding new homes for unwanted items. So far, 61% of readers say they would definitely regift an item, while another 26% surely would, but just haven’t had an opportunity to do so yet. Just 13% of respondents claim they could never find it in their hearts to part with gifts, no matter how unwanted.

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So we’ve established that regifting is indeed a thing that more than a few of us do. Now we should warn you that the art of pawning off your gifts on another person is delicate — you don’t want grandma to see cousin Paul in that beautiful sweater she found just for you.

There are no shortage of tips and tricks to make sure you’re not sabotaging yourself when bestowing your unwanted items on someone else. The Emily Post Institute, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, and our colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports have compiled a long list of advice for would-be regifters.

Let’s get started, and clean out that closet of gifts-from-the-past-that-you-can’t-bear-to-look-at-anymore.

First, as John Oliver so eloquently put it, create some space between the person who gave you the gift and the person who will benefit from your generous regifting. Definitely don’t regift a present to someone in the same social circle: you can’t give Paul that sweater; grandma will see… and she will hold it against you forever.

In 2014, a Consumer Reports holiday poll found that 5% of respondents had accidentally regifted a gift back to the original gift-giver (yikes).

The best bet here, Oliver says, is handing over the gift during an office Secret Santa exchange, unless you really like your co-workers and don’t want them accusing you of not spending anything — even though the limit was $15 and everyone knows you just got a raise.

Next, Consumer Reports suggesting you take a close look at the item you’re regifting to make sure there are no telltale signs the item was intended for someone else. You don’t want to explain to co-worker Randy why that self-help book you gave him says “Luv ya Puddin’ — Grannie Alice” on the title page.

So in addition to incriminating inscriptions in books, be on the lookout for monogrammed initials on shirts, and gift tags that have been stowed away in pockets.

Make sure the gift is something the new recipient even wants, the Emily Post Institute advises. Does it fit the person’s style? Do they have a need for the item? If the answers are yes, then it’s not really a regifting, so much as it is a gift that you didn’t need to spend any money to purchase.

To really sell the idea that the gift was meant for its new owner, Oliver and CR suggest you personalize the card and always use new wrapping. 

While this could just mean slapping a few names on a tag, it might behoove you to write a small inscription, reading something like, “saw this at the store and couldn’t resist.”

Try not to regift perishable food, unless it’s something you know the recipient will actually eat. Even if it’s fresh when you regift the item, remember that the recipient may be regifting it down the line to someone else, and so on and so on. No one wants to be regifted stale or rotting snacks.

And finally, don’t regift too often. Oliver suggests keeping the art to a minimum once per person each year — this also gives you less chance of being caught. Speaking of which, own up to your deed if the recipient confronts you.

All About Regifting [The Emily Post Institute]
How to Avoid Regifting Regrets [Consumer Reports]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Regifting [John Oliver]

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