There's a fine art to not getting caught. Make gift recipients feel special even if you're giving them something you've received in the past.
Two holiday seasons ago, I went shopping for my four cousins, all between the ages of 9 and 15. But I didn’t go to a store or even my computer. And I didn’t spend a dime.
All I did was walk into my closet. Hanging there were tank tops and sweaters I never wore, plus necklaces and bracelets I never unclasped. Some were previous holiday gifts from a family I babysat for. Others I had bought but immediately fell out of love with.
I felt guilty at the time, but now I’ve learned just how common “regifting” is. A new survey of 1,000 shoppers by discount site Ebates claims 39 percent of America plan to regift this year. The Top 5 gifts to be recycled…
- Home décor items
- Gift cards
- Wine or champagne
- Perfume or cologne
Yet another survey, this one by the Women’s Buying Behavior Index, claims, “25 percent of women are planning to give someone else an unwanted gift that they received in the past.”
Regifting is so common, there’s a website called Regiftable.com, which has declared the third Thursday in December National Regifting Day (which is December 19 this year). Combined with my own experience, here are the Top 5 Rules for Regifting Right…
1. Check the tags before you re-bag
Three years ago, my boss gave me an Estee Lauder perfume set. I was happy for a couple seconds – until I noticed the original name on the gift bag was crossed out. Maybe the perfume was new and the gift bag was used. I’ll never know.
Lesson: Before regifting, be sure to remove any evidence that you didn’t buy the item. And that includes the bag itself.
2. Don’t use the item and then regift it
You would think that this one goes without saying right? Well… Here’s an excerpt from a horror story I read on regiftable.com. “When I opened the box, I literally flushed-out the evidence as a gush of water drained onto my lap. My gift was a pulsating shower head. It was obviously re-gifted because they forgot to drain it. Grrrr!”
Lesson: Save yourself the humiliation, regift with discretion and remove any evidence that the item has been used. In fact used items should never be regifted.
3. Make sure that the item is at least regiftable worthy.
We all want to save money during the holidays but giving someone an unworthy present can be both humiliating and insulting. Here’s another story for you… “She gave one of the nephews two old throw pillows that had been on their sofa for years. The nephew was only 10 or 11 at the time and the pillows were stained and smelled horrible because of the dog.”
Lesson: If you’re going to regift, make sure that the gift is new, unworn and at least smells good. Save money but save yourself the embarrassment too. Gift giving should not be just a way to save a few bucks or to get rid of something you don’t want.
4. Un-wrap and rewrap the present for the new recipient.
Another regifting nightmare involving meatloaf being passed off as fruitcake. One Christmas a lady made a meatloaf for a gentleman friend who apparently loves meatloaves but hates fruitcakes. She “wrapped the loaf in shiny foil, added a big red bow, and presented it to him as a “holiday fruitcake”. That very evening he decided to take it along as a hostess gift to a holiday party. Both he and the hostess were incredibly surprised at what the gift really was. He grabbed the meatloaf and took off running.
Lesson: Now at least open and inspect the item before giving it to someone else. There may be a little note tucked in there, somewhere with your name on it making it even more obvious that the present was originally intended for you.
5. Don’t regift to the original gifter.
A regifter’s worst nightmare is inadvertently giving the gift back to the original giver. And this scenario involved a Doc and a clock. “Christmas came and I gave him the clock. He raved about it. My birthday rolled around in February and Doc comes running in. He handed me a beautiful one of a kind clock-a dolphin. It was the one I had given him that Christmas.”
Lesson: Keep track of who gave you what so in the event you decide to regift you will know where it came from. Label items you plan to regift with the name of the original giver the instant you realize that the gift is something you will not use.
So, go ahead regift but do it responsibly.
The nightmares you’ve just read are telltale signs of regifting rookies. No matter what the circumstances or the perceived sin of regifting, when done right it can actually save you time, money and embarrassment.