Gift Giving


The holiday season is almost upon us and many people are wondering how they will manage gift giving when they can barely afford living expenses.  Bargain hunting will only stretch the dollar so far.  Many people are turning to a relatively new concept to save money this year.  As the economy tanks, more people are turning to regifting to help save money.  

 A term coined by Jerry Seinfeld, regifting is becoming more acceptable. In 2007 Money Management International conducted a study and the results showed 58% of adults thought the practice was acceptable.  In a small study in 2010 73% of 1000 shoppers polled said they would be regifting that year.  Typically, females are more accepting of the idea than are males.

 Hand-me Downs vs. Regifting

 While the practice of regifting is something that will help save money; there is etiquette that should be observed.  Many tips on the proper etiquette for regifting are simply using common sense.  The first thing to take note of is the difference between giving someone a second-hand item and giving a gift you previously received but don’t want.  The practice of regifting is not emptying your closet or house of all your unwanted “white elephants” or clothes you no longer wear. 

 Hand-me-downs can be disguised if they are in new condition and are given in the original packaging. However, many find this unacceptable etiquette of the practice. You are not actually giving an unwanted gift to someone else; but rather, trying to either get rid of an unwanted item (not acceptable), or giving someone something they will enjoy although it has been used (more acceptable).  Do make sure the item is clean and in good condition if considering giving a second-hand item as a present.

 Dos and Don’ts of Regifting

 The art of regifting does require forethought.  In the same manner you would decide on a gift to purchase for someone; a gift you previously received and are considering giving to someone else as a gift requires the same thought process. Does the gift match the intended receiver?  It makes no sense to give a gift to someone who will ultimately be stuck with something undesirable.

 The condition of the item is important. An unwanted gift being considered as a present for someone else should still be in good condition. This is usually the case if the etiquette of regifting is observed.   On the site, one person wrote in about an experience of receiving a gift of lottery tickets. This would be great except the giver scratched them off; the tickets were all losers, and the giver wrote a note stating the hard work of scratching the tickets was already done for the recipient.  On the site MP Dunleavey relates a story of receiving a rice cooker with some rice kernels stuck to the cooker. Definitely regifting faux pas on both accounts.  

Many people get tripped up with regiving a gift when they forget who gave them the gift originally.  Not only is it important to remember not to give the present back to the original giver; it is equally important not to give it to anyone who might know or be around that person.  It makes for a very awkward moment if the present is identified by the original giver. 

 This brings us to another point. Do you tell the person it is a re-gifted item?  Etiquette experts are split on this decision.  Some believe it is proper to tell, while others maintain a “silence is golden” position. Logically, ask yourself what is the benefit of the person knowing or not knowing?  It is a personal decision only you can answer.  You may decide to tell some and not others.  Perhaps it depends not only on the recipient, but on the item as well.

 Etiquette experts identify several items that should never be regifted.  These include candles, soaps, random books, CDs of obscure artists, cheesy jewelry, socks, pens, colognes, signed books, and monogrammed items.  Generalizing these items is too broad. Again, you should use your best judgment on these items.  If someone uses candles frequently and you received a candle you don’t have a use for; it might make sense to give the candle as a present.  Of course, it should be in new condition, and if packaged, still in the original packaging.  A signed book may be special to a book lover as long as the ascription does not include your name. Monogrammed items, logically, should be the recipient’s monograms and not yours.  It is about using your common sense.  Again, does the item match the intended recipient or is it just you getting rid of something unwanted?

 Others suggest regifting ‘no-nos” include the giving of hand- made or one-of-kind items.  The former makes sense; something lovingly made by hand needs to be cherished for the effort and thought if not for the final product.   If the latter is given away, it may bring about an awkward moment in the future.   By the same token, many feelings have been hurt when gifts are found on eBay or at a flea market.  These unwanted items seem to bring about a “no-win” situation.  In time, you may be able to donate the item to charity without any ill feelings.

 Saving Money by Being Creative

 For those who do not have items classified as regiftable, giving something slightly used may be acceptable.  Using the some of the same etiquette as for regifting will guide you to what could be appropriate.

 Using items you have around the house, you can create a unique gift that will be special. Do make sure it is something that fits the recipient. Often friends comment on how much they like something we own. If you have something you no longer need or want and someone has expressed an interest in having it; this item can be given as a present.

 Do make sure the item is clean and in good condition. You can be creative in updating, adding elements or things of this nature to ensure the gift is unique and acceptable.  In this case, it is appropriate to tell the person you are giving them something not newly purchased.  This type of gift giving works best with close friends and family. 

 It is an age old tradition of passing things down to next generations.  A quilt or an admired piece of jewelry may be just the thing for a present this year.  When people know you do not have the money to purchase presents for them; yet are willing to sacrifice some of your treasures, they generally accept those gifts with opened arms.

 Saving Money This Year

 Christmas is a time when many people tend to spend more than any other time in the year. Recent years this has grown more and more difficult as families face financial crisis.  Turning to regifting unwanted previous gifts and the old traditions of giving family treasures are two ways to ease the spending dilemma.

 Using common sense and good etiquette will help ensure recipients are not disappointed. Make sure to use different wrapping on the regifted item.  Even if the wrapping is recycled from previous years, good etiquette requires different wrapping from the original of any regifted article.

 All in all, the giving of gifts is meant to be from the heart.  Thoughtfully making a selection, whether it is new, regifted or second-hand, is key to successful gift giving.



Dangler, Olivia. 2010. Fox59. Study Shows Shoppers Re-gifting to Save Money This Season.,0,2505286.story. (Accessed September 21, 2011).

 Dunleavey, MP. MSN Money Central. 12 Rules for Regifting Without Fear. (Accessed September 21, 2011).

 Tuttle, Brad. 2009. Time Moneyland. Tis the Season of Regifting. (Accessed September 21, 2011).



The copyright of the article “Save Money This Season with Regifting and Creativity”  is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Gift Giving