We all do it, but no one ever admits to it.
I was talking about regifting. (What were you thinking? Tsk, tsk.) You know, when someone gives you something you don’t really like, so you give it to someone else instead?
It’s not as bad as it sounds, however. A recent survey even revealed that 83% of respondents wouldn’t mind receiving a recycled gift, and the practice certainly saves people a great deal of time, effort, and money. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly too since you reduce waste.
However, regifting can backfire if you do it wrong. For instance, no one wants to be in a situation where the original giver spots someone else receiving or using the present they gave you, right? Also, there are some gifts that look like they were obviously recycled, and the expression on the recipient’s face often reflects this once they’ve torn through the wrapper.
Fortunately, there are some guidelines you can look to in order to spare yourself any embarrassment when engaging in this tricky practice:
1. Don’t regift anything personalized.
It might be a good idea to check the gifts you receive for any personalized engravings or marks before you consider passing them on to someone else.
Received a book you’re not a fan of but know a friend who’d love to have it? Check the inside of the cover first to see if the original giver wrote you a personalized message. Think it’s a good idea to give your ten year-old cousin (who happens to have the same initials as you) that engraved shot glass from your drinking buddy? Think again.
2. Try not to regift an old present (especially if it’s edible).
Come on! No one wants to receive old fruitcake or a fancy snack box package….from last year. One look at the package’s expiry date and you’re busted.
The same goes for technology. Your regifting ploy will be too obvious if you give an outdated model when the latest version is already the seventh or eighth relaunch of the same gadget. (Imagine gifting someone with an iPod mini, for instance. Now, that’s just tacky.)
As a rule, it’s better to regift presents that have only been given recently, such as that generic mug you received during the Secret Santa at your office last week. Just don’t give it to anyone in your office, of course, which brings us to number 3:
3. Consider your recipient’s social circle.
If the original giver is a mutual friend, you had best give the regift to someone else, lest s/he end up seeing the recipient using or wearing something s/he gave to you. Awkward.
4. Change the wrapping paper.
Unwrap the item and watch out for any scratches or stains. Clean it up, if needed, and remove any incriminating evidence (e.g., gift tags making the item out to you, personalized stickers, etc.).
Once you’re satisfied that the item no longer has any tell-tale signs of regifting, use new wrapping paper to package it and remember to replace the gift tag.
5. Make sure the regift still matches the occasion and the recipient.
You can still use those unopened leftover bags of candy from Halloween as Christmas presents, but please make sure they don’t have any pumpkins or vampire bats printed all over their shiny wrappers. And don’t even think about gifting someone with that untouched box of chocolates from Valentine’s Day.
Consider too, the person who will be receiving the regift. Generic presents like unopened bottles of wine are ideal for regifting since they suit any occasion, but you should probably hold off on presenting them to an uncle who’s attending AA meetings and is trying to get sober.
6. Never regift a present when you can no longer remember who gave it to you.
Or you just might end up giving it to the original giver. Yikes!
And if all else fails, hey, just be honest. Provided that the regift is something the recipient can actually use and/or appreciate, it doesn’t really matter that you’re passing it on to them so long as you’re sincere. Saying something like, “Hey, a colleague of mine gave me these tickets to the Coldplay concert. I’m not a fan, but I know you are, so you can have them” can make all the difference between a thoughtful (re)gift and a cheapskate gesture.