'Tis The Season To Regift, As Long As You Follow These Five Rules

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 
Julia Meslener for Scary Mommy and Westend61/ CSA Images/Getty

If we’re telling the truth, we know we’re bound to get a gift (or two, or three) this holiday season that we simply don’t like or want. According to a Finder survey, 61% of us fall into this category. The majority of these thanks-but-no-thanks gifts are clothing and accessories, followed by household items, and then cosmetics and fragrances. If we get an item we don’t want, is it okay to give it to someone else who will appreciate and use it?

Let’s settle this once and for all. Is Christmas regifting acceptable, or is it tacky? Is it ever okay to regift, or should we always buy new, no matter what? What do we do with the apple cinnamon candle (that makes you sneeze) from our neighbor or the too small and way too itchy sweater from Aunt Judy? (Don’t people know by now? We just want chocolate.) If we just hold on to an unwanted gift, like 31% of other people, what good does that do? I’m wondering if we all take the regifting approach, are we better off?

There are so many benefits to regifting, according to Emily Bhatti, spokesperson for Oxfam. First, we keep those ew-to-us items out of the landfills. We all know that global warming is real, and we need to do our part to keep Mother Nature happy. Tossing perfectly functioning items into the trash is real disrespectful. Second, we put a damper on the all-things-plastic production and waste (ahem, toys especially) which also causes serious environmental damage.

But there’s more. Bhatti shares, “This pandemic has been hard on our wallets, and holiday gift shopping can further drain our funds.” By keeping our money in our bank accounts by either regifting or buying second-hand, we are helping ourselves make a financially-savvy decision during this uncertain season.

They also suggest the beauty in regifting something that has a story. Bhatti says, “When you upcycle a funky vintage dress, for instance you’re passing on a one-of-a-kind wardrobe piece that can’t be purchased just anywhere, and that makes the gift even more special.” If the receiver has coveted that item for years anyway, they will absolutely love that you shared it with them, entrusting them to carry on the item’s legacy.

We’ve established that regifting and buying second-hand has some serious perks, but how in the world do we regift tactfully? Yes, it’s possible to regift and not come across as cheap or desperate. Follow these tips to make sure your holiday gift exchanges are joyful.

Do not regift damaged goods.

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If something is broken, torn, stained, or faded, don’t regift it—unless it’s that pair of ripped, vintage jeans (in their exact size), a family heirloom quilt, or an antique that’s supposed to be distressed. The item should be in shiny-and-new, working condition. Make sure any cosmetic products or foods aren’t expired or close-to-expiration, and on clothing items, all zippers and buttons work properly.

Don’t regift anything personalized.

This should be a given, but don’t give your cousin Betsy the monogrammed wine glass ornament your sister gave you last Christmas. The only way a monogrammed item can be regifted is if you and the receiver have the exact same initials or name and interests. (That’s a tall order.) Before you regift an item, check it over for any inscription. Older relatives, I’ve noticed, love to put their stamp of love on a gift by signing their name (or yours) on it.

If you’re uncertain of a person’s taste, don’t regift.

If you aren’t sure that the southwestern vibe vase, too-small-for-you house slippers, or The Office DVD collection is perfect for your nearest-and-dearest loved, do not regift it. You’re merely passing on the problem to the next person and looking ridiculous doing it. Not every item you own and don’t want has to be regifted. There’s always the option to donate, giving the item another chance to find a new home.

Make sure you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

If you can’t remember who bought you the item you want to pass on, don’t regift it. If you do remember, make sure you aren’t regifting it in front of that person or the original giver will find out you regifted the present. For example, if your grandmother gave you a pair of earrings that aren’t your style, pass them on to a co-worker or a neighbor who will appreciate them, not someone on your side of the family who might recognize the bling from a few Christmases ago.

Encourage others to regift.

There’s nothing wrong with regifting, as long as you’re not hurting anyone’s feelings or gifting an item the person doesn’t like. In fact, by admitting you’ve become committed to regifting (for all the reasons we mentioned), you can encourage others to do the same. Be the catalyst by starting a new tradition of regifting. Maybe in the future, all of us will readily share, “I’m regifting this to you, knowing you’ll absolutely give it the appreciation it deserves.”

Are you holding on to items you don’t like, want, or need? Would you like to lessen your carbon footprint and save money? Stop letting the gifts you’ll never use take up closet space. Why not regift? If you’re ready to get on the regifting bandwagon, check out Regift Revolution. You can sign their petition and enter to win amazing regifted prizes from celebs like Alyssa Milano, David Latimer, and Tiffany Haddish. Oh, and if you’re a fan of The Handmaid’s Tale, the executive producer is donating Serena’s knitting basket! Pat yourself on the back for showing Mother Earth some love while bringing some serious joy to your family and friends.

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