Last Minute Gift Scramble: The Rules of Regifting


wrap it up again.

We’re all guilty of this. Not only is it temptingly convenient when you’re so far behind that your Christmas list isn’t even written, but it’s also a money saver and a great way to rid yourself of clutter.  And what on earth are you really going to do with yet another gift basket from Bath & Body Works? Or a fortune cookie-making machine from Target? (Okay, that actually could be kind of cool, but chances are you’re going to use it once in your life, tops.) We’re talking about the not-much-talked-about-yet-oh-so-common practice known as regifting. Like Kathryn Merteuil (played by Sarah-Michelle Gellar) from Cruel Intentions once said, “Everybody does it; it’s just that nobody talks about it.”

The website, which was founded in 2006 by Money Management International to save people from debt during the holiday season, has deemed the third Thursday of December as National Regifting Day (i.e today!). But unlike those other weird days like National Corn on the Cob day (yes, it exists), this holiday actually does serve a purpose. According to their website, the third Thursday of December is when the most office holiday parties are held (and when the standard “Secret Santa” and “White Elephant gift exchanges” tend to take place).

So how does one exactly go about regifting a gift? Accoring to Jodi R.R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, there are four basic rules of regifting.

Closed/Unused: Did you use some of that scented body lotion before deciding that the scent of vanilla cupcake is unbearable? Did you wear that blouse for a few hours on Saturday to “test” it out? Sorry, but that item is no longer regiftable. Just put yourself in the other person’s place. How would you feel if someone gifted you an item that had been used or worn before? Not so much fun now, is it?

Rewrapped: If you’re going to regift a present, by all means practice some common sense and rewrap it in new wrapping paper. While that may not sound like the most eco-friendly option, it could spare you the embarrassment of someone else spotting that familiar wrapping paper and realizing that it was the gift they gave you. Also, some gifts have little cards tucked away in them, and the last thing you want is for your roommate to discover the tiny card inside the package originally addressed to you from your Aunt Martha.

Reasoning: Just because someone gave you a terrible present doesn’t mean you should regift their awful gift and continue to spread the non-holiday cheer. That’s like the opposite effect of paying it forward. If the gift is actually a nice item but it just wasn’t for you, that’s a different story. But if it’s truly hideous or left you wondering what they were thinking, you probably don’t want to give that to someone else and have them think the exact same thing about you. In this case, donate it to the Goodwill and write it off as a donation on next year’s taxes.

Social Circle: If the person who gave you the present is good friends with your other bestie, a co-worker you see daily, or someone who you are in close proximity with on a frequent basis, you might want to think twice before you regift their item to someone who runs in the same social circle. You want to avoid an embarrassing situation where the person who originally gave you the gift discovers that the sweater they took the time to pick out for you…is now being worn by someone else.  Remember the infamous breadmaker regifting scene in Old School between Mitch and Frank?

Frank: A little housewarming gift. To new beginnings.

Mitch: Thanks. Uh…actually, I gave this to you for your wedding.

Frank: This model?

Mitch: No, this exact one.

Frank: I’m sorry. I’m embarrassed. I’m sorry.

Mitch: It’s okay. I hope you like it.

Frank: I love it. Thank you.

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