Regifting Is OK If . . .

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You tear into the bright blue, snowman-spattered wrap, wondering what it could possibly hide. Underneath all the ribbon and tape, you see . . . a Christmas cat sweater. And it’s hideous. “Thanks,” you muster with your most convincing smile, but you’re already wondering what you’re going to do with this pile of knitted grief. Could it block the sun through your car window? Could you turn it into a pillow like they do on Pinterest? Maybe it would make the perfect holiday gift for Cousin Tess in Minnesota. It’s cold there, right? But is regifting OK?

Regifting Is OK If . . .

Rules of Regifting

  • Find the perfect recipient. Your friend Diane loves holiday sweaters, and she is just your size! If you can find a love match between a gift and someone you know, feel free to pass along a gift so it will be enjoyed. But…
  • Regift to a different social circle. If Julie (who gave you that sweater) is also friends with Diane, there’s a good chance Julie will uncover your switcheroo when she sees Diane’s feline frock. To avoid hurt feelings, regifting is best done with someone who doesn’t know the original gift-giver.
  • Check the original packaging. Is the packaging in good shape, not obviously opened or torn? If so, regifting is OK if you nicely rewrap the gift. And always check for personalization—cards that might have been tucked into the packaging, or a gift that might have been engraved.
  • Know how long to hang on to gifts. If you get that cat sweater today and give it away tomorrow, you might face an awkward situation when Julie asks for pictures of you wearing it. So allow some cooling-off time before regifting anything. You may need to keep would-be regifts that are meaningful to the gift-giver; Great-Aunt Jayne put a lot of work into that crocheted pinafore, and she may ask to see it when she visits next year.
  • Retire universally reviled gifts. There may be a lid for every pot, but not so for gifts. If you’ll never use that cat sweater, those bacon-patterned socks, or those bright yellow taco plates you got for your wedding last year—and you can’t think of anyone who would be proud to get them—give them to charity.

General Gift-Giving Etiquette

  • Be thoughtful to give a gift you know the other person will really enjoy. People tend to give gifts they will enjoy.
  • Unless you know someone’s size and taste, clothes can be tricky! It’s easier if you know something specific they like, such as The North Face fleece sweatshirts. If you buy a gift that needs to fit, be sure to include a gift receipt.
  • If you have agreed to not exchange gifts or to buy inexpensive gifts, stick to it! Otherwise you can embarrass people who actually stuck to the deal.
  • Giving a nicely wrapped gift gets the recipient that much more excited about what’s inside, and shows you care about presentation. A crisp new gift bag can make all the difference.

Gift-giving is always best when it’s a gift you’re proud to give to someone who will really enjoy it. And one final word if you get caught regifting—own up to it! Explain why you thought the recipient would like the gift, and hopefully that will be enough. As the old adage goes, it’s the thought that counts!

Happy cat-sweater season to you and yours!

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