Experts Explain 4 Gifts You Can Always Regift, and 4 Gifts You Probably Shouldn’t
Regifting is OK—sometimes.
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You don’t have to love every gift that comes your way. Whether you’ve received a sweater that’s just not your style or yet another pair of mittens, some items may be better off under someone else’s tree. A great way to get rid of unwanted presents is to regift them—but the practice comes with some very specific social rules. We asked etiquette experts to break them down.
What is regifting?
Regifting is the process of receiving a gift and then passing it on to another person. Think of the process like a traveling sisterhood of gifts making their way from one recipient to the next, but doing it tactfully is incredibly important. “At its heart, regifting lacks integrity because the original gift recipient is passing along a gift that was specifically selected for them to someone else,” shares Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert and author. “It has become more acceptable in certain social circles.” That means it’s OK to regift, but only when the time, recipient, and gift align appropriately.
Is it good or bad to regift?
There’s no easy answer to this question—regifting can either be a stroke of genius or a lightning bolt of bad social luck. “Always regift out of an abundance of consideration, never a lack of it,” explains Heather Wiese Alexander, etiquette expert and founder of Bell’INVITO Stationery & Home. In other words, regifting should never be used as a solution to simply dispose of unwanted items—don’t let your passed-on gift become someone else’s problem.
Schweitzer suggests regifting in circles that might never meet or interact with each other. Focusing on widely-appreciated items also helps you nail the formula with ease. “Don’t regift within the same circle. Instead, regift within different family, friends, and work circles to avoid hurt feelings or awkward situations. If you think your aunt won’t notice that your mother received the exact same Nutribullet that she gave you for your birthday at your family’s Christmas gathering—think again!”
Beyond stepping outside your circle, removing any trace of personalization is extremely important to attempt this popular money-saving move. “It should be in its original packaging and fully sealed exactly as if purchased new,” Schweitzer says. “Avoid regifting engraved, monogrammed, or otherwise personalized gifts that are clearly intended for a specific recipient.”
Schweitzer says repackaging is half the battle, and you should always consider personalizing your wrapping for the next recipient. “These all-purpose gifts may be well-received as regifted items. Make sure you place them in a new gift box or wrap them nicely in the recipient’s favorite color.”
Gifts you can always regift
“There are some perfect items to regift under the right circumstances,” Wiese Alexander says. “If you are flooded with gifts from a registry or you have new, unused duplicates and you are able to give one as a gift, it’s OK.”
High-end alcohol varieties are ripe for regifting. “If you know that the recipient will enjoy the wine or spirit, pop that bottle in an elegant wine bag and regift it immediately,” Schweitzer advises. “Specialty beer, spirits, and wine bottles are perfect for regifting for the appropriate recipient if the bottle still has the original seal.” Alternatively, if you have a wine subscription from a service like Wine Insiders or receive a full case as a gift, you can give a single bottle as a regift.
Small kitchen appliances
This practical genre of re-giftable items relies on unopened boxes. “Small appliances including cordless mixers, mini waffle-makers, rice cookers, and gadgets are great for regifting,” Schweitzer says. “As always, make sure the items are in their original packaging and remain unused.” Affordable items like a Pioneer Woman portable slow cooker are universally useful and make excellent hostess gifts.
Scented candles can make perfect regifts, “If you know the recipient likes or wears this fragrance, and it’s still in its original packaging,” Schweitzer explains. A beautifully presented high-end candle, like the Bamboo Scented Classic Candle from Nest New York, will always be an excellent regift.
Some types of clothing
“If it’s unworn, the original tags are still on and it’s a one-size-fits-most, regift. Hats, scarves, socks, wraps, and fashionable items are ideal for regifting,” Schweitzer adds while emphasizing the need to steer clear of size-specific items. Shoes, pants, and undergarments may be simply too personal. Neutral colors and patterns, like the one in this bestselling Amazon scarf, are always a hit.
Gifts you should not regift
Wiese Alexander says it’s important to never regift anything that’s been opened or used. You shouldn’t regift personal scents like perfumes and cologne or monogrammed and homemade items either.
Undergarments and pajamas
They may be the most gorgeous silk pajamas in the history of humankind, but size-specific clothes are usually a no-go for regifting. Keep the pajamas or exchange them for a size that fits, and try not to regift anything that ventures into deeply personal territory. If you’re buying for yourself, however, these silky pajamas make an excellent “treat yourself” gift.
Perfume and cologne
“Scents are very personal,” Wiese Alexander says. “If your friend has been talking about how much they love a specific new scent and you just happen to have it but never used it, go for it. Otherwise, steer clear of fragrances.” This highly-rated vanilla perfume is a sweet pick, but only if you’re absolutely confident the recipient will like it. Here’s how to score a free perfume at Sephora.
Even if they have the same initials as you, monogrammed items are as personal as you can get. It’s best to avoid regifting these. Keep these gifts for yourself and display them proudly. We like this piped edge bath towel because you can choose to personalize it or opt out.
If you’re regifting a freshly-purchased fruit basket, Wiese Alexander says you’re in the clear and it should be well-appreciated. But if you’re taking the banana bread your neighbor dropped by your door this morning as a housewarming gift to a colleague, it’s just not right. Aside from possible hygiene and health issues, homemade gifts come from the heart and are meant to be used and appreciated by the intended recipient. If you don’t have time to make your own special gift, consider giving artisan-made items that are still in obviously unbothered packaging, like this flower smudge stick.
What is the most regifted gift?
Both experts agree wine and candles top the list of regifted items. That’s good news because both are etiquette expert-approved choices that will make the recipient feel appreciated.
- Sharon Schweitzer, etiquette expert and author
- Heather Wiese Alexander, etiquette expert and founder of Bell’INVITO Stationery & Home
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