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5 Do's and Don'ts of Regifting This Season

5 Do's and Don'ts of Regifting This Season

It's not rude to regift–but you should take some precautions before giving an old gift to someone new.

As the holidays roll around and you have no idea what to get that one obscure person on your list, you might be wondering: Is it rude to regift? Not at all, says Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of the legendary etiquette guru Emily Post, author of numerous proper-behavior books, and co-host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast.

Post says she prefers to be open and honest when she regifts. She once regifted a bracelet from an old boyfriend to her cousin on her 21st birthday. “I told her that I was given the bracelet by someone who really loved me and that I thought she would appreciate it, and she was thrilled,” Post says. “It became a piece that meant something to her and that I felt good about letting go of because I let her know the history.” But even if you want your gift’s origin to remain a secret, keeping useful items in circulation is not only good for the planet, but can make others happy. Here are Post’s do’s and don’ts for courteous regifting.

Use Original Packaging for an Old Gift

The item shouldn’t look like it’s been open, tested, or used. If you’re not telling recipient it’s a regifted item, then it really has to look brand-new. Reminder for gift bags: Remove the tag that’s inscribed to you.

Don’t Regift Personalized Items

It’s hard to believe, but Post says people call into the podcast who have received (and given) gifts with engravings meant for someone else, including a wedding date or inscription. Needless to say, this is not acceptable. Unless the new recipient has the exact same wedding date, keep the gift.

Let Time Pass Before Giving the Gift to Someone New

If you’re choosing to keep your regifting a secret, Post says you need to be 99-percent sure the person you’re giving it to and the person who gave it to you aren’t going to find out. Let some time lapse before immediately regifting the item—the amount of time, according to Post, is a personal decision and calls for good judgement.

Don’t Regift Unique or Handmade Items

If someone paints you a painting or gives you a particularly unique or memorable gift (such as an octopus planter), there’s no way to regift these items within your family or circle of friends. Avoid hurt feelings and keep the gifts or regift to a friend or relative who will never cross paths with the original giver.

Be Thoughtful About Regifting

Only regift when you think the item will benefit the person receiving it. In other words, don’t thoughtlessly regift things simply to get rid of them or save money. If it’s not a good match, sell or donate the item, Post advises.

Jaimie Seaton


Jaimie Seaton has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and is the former Thailand correspondent for Newsweek. Her work on divorce, parenting, dating, and a wide range of topics has been featured in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Glamour, and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter @JaimieSeaton.

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