1 in 5 Americans plans to re-gift this year
It’s the gift that keeps on giving — until it lands you in big trouble.
One in five Americans plans to re-gift an unwanted item this year, according to data out this November from gift brand Personal Creations. We’re most likely to regift to our coworkers, as nearly one in three people say their colleagues are the likeliest to receive their recycled, unwanted gifts. Just 7% said they’d consider doing as much to their parents.
No doubt, you probably feel a little guilt if you plan to regift, but experts say it’s acceptable. “I believe it’s perfectly fine,” etiquette expert Elaine Swann, author of Let Crazy Be Crazy, told Moneyish. Fellow etiquette guru Karen Thomas agrees, but notes that you should proceed at your own risk: “You have to weigh what it is going to cost you,” like if the recipient discovers what you’ve done — or worse, if the gift somehow makes it back to the person who gave it to you.
“If it may cost you a friendship, is it really worth not purchasing a $25 or $40 gift? Why do you want to cover your tracks and have the whole thing backfire?” Thomas asks.
But if you’re dead-set on re-gifting, here’s how to do it without looking like a total Grinch:
- Stay out of your social circle: “The first and foremost rule is to make sure — and I mean double sure — that you do not regift in the circle, because that would be very rude,” Thomas cautions. To achieve this, Swann suggests keeping “some sort of log on your calendar or your journal.” In it, write down the gift and the name of the person who gave it, so you don’t make the mistake of giving it back to that person or someone close to them.
Make sure the gift is in like-new shape: “Keep the gift in its original packaging,” Swann recommends. If it’s a blender, keep it in its box. If it’s a holiday sweater, keep the tags on. But, she says, “undo the wrapping altogether, [and] if it’s been given to you in a gift bag, then toss that particular gift bag altogether as well.” Thomas adds that if you don’t, you run the risk of neglecting something personal that could be tucked inside, like a special note from the original gift giver just for you.
Don’t re-gift homemade items or free giveaways: Don’t re-gift things you got free, “like swag from the conference earlier this year,” says Swann. She also adds that homemade gifts intended just for you shouldn’t be passed on — that’s a slap in the face to the giver. And “of course, anything that’s consumable, make sure that it has not expired or will not expire,” Swann adds.
- Avoid re-gifting to these people: “The people that you are closest with, if you are working with coworkers that you see everyday — I would put them on the blacklist,” Thomas warns. The same can be said of immediate family members. If you have a rapport with your manager, Swann says it’s okay to re-gift to him or her, as long as the item is something your boss would truly enjoy.
Here’s what to do if you get busted: “You shouldn’t lie at this point if you are caught and the person knows it,” Thomas admonishes. By lying, “you’re really pouring salt in the wound,” so instead, take responsibility for the botched attempt. To make amends, you could say something like, “‘I [received] this gift and I know that you really like these things…’” You really need to be sincere and gracious about it,” Thomas advises. “The longer your nose gets, the worse it becomes if you really are caught.”
On the flip side, don’t get mad if you’re on the receiving end of a re-gifted present, say both Thomas and Swann — you never can be sure what the giver’s financial circumstances or motives may have been. “You want to err on the side of graciousness,” Thomas advises. “Any gift that is given to you is a gift and it should be received in that manner. Never call the person out on it… Maybe my friend Susie didn’t have the money this year, but she thought she was trying to be nice.”
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