We all know re-gifting happens, but is it acceptable? “It’s not really a matter of right or wrong,” says etiquette expert Karen Cleveland. “You know in the pit of your stomach whether it feels like a good idea. So if you feel guilty and you’re looking for me to absolve that guilt, I can’t do it.”
But if you are planning to repurpose your presents, at least follow these tips and avoid becoming the friend everyone wants to pawn off on someone else.
Re-gift far from the source.
“Remove it from the circle in which you got it,” says Cleveland. “If you’re going to re-gift, make sure there’s absolutely no possible way it could make it back into the hands of the person who gave it to you, or that they may hear about it.” And if you need a complicated tracking system to manage your re-gifting, you’re overdoing it.
Hand it over in its old wrapping.
Let common sense prevail, and remove all obvious signs of previous ownership. “For heaven’s sake, [if it’s a bottle of wine] check the bottle and make sure there’s no gift tag! Re-wrap it and put some energy into it,” says Cleveland.
Consider sentimental value.
“If it’s something that has any prospect of being sentimental, really be careful,” says Cleveland. “Because the gift that doesn’t seem to mean very much now might actually take on great meaning in years down the line.”
If you’re the kind of person who is frequently accused of lacking common sense, you may want to avoid re-gifting altogether.
Know what you’re giving
Wine is one of the most easily re-gifted items – and one of the most dangerous, warns Cleveland. “If you’re re-gifting a bottle, you might be giving away an extremely good bottle of wine – or you might be giving away an absolute abysmally awful bottle of wine.” Always research your gift before you part with it.
Be afraid to tell the truth.
“If you got a bottle of wine and you don’t drink,” says Cleveland, “Give it to someone and say that.” You’re not obliged to wrap it up and pretend it’s a gift – passing the bottle along to someone who will enjoy it is still a nice gesture. Similarly, if you receive a duplicate gift, why not ask the giver if they’d mind you exchanging it for something you really need. “You don’t have to be sneaky and dastardly about it,” says Cleveland. “Let honesty be a good policy where etiquette would prevail.”