When is it okay to re-gift?

The year I met the man I would marry, we were living in different cities and hadn't spent much time together when Christmas came around. It was difficult to know what to give, how much to give, and how much to spend. I looked for inspiration. I consulted friends. I visited a lot of stores in search of a great gift. I ended up with a few gifts, some that I made myself and a couple that I purchased — a really nice, black sweater and some cologne. They were all warmly received; but later on, it became clear that the cologne would never be used. My guy just doesn't wear cologne. (Drat!)

It took about four years before anything was done about it. It had become part of the décor up on the shelf in the bathroom until one of his sons came to visit. A single hug gave me a whiff of his son's cologne and the wheels started to turn. I found a way to inquire about his cologne and learned that he really likes to wear some kind of scent. I made an inquiry of my fiancé to see if he would be okay with my giving his son the cologne. “Sure!” he said. Before his son left, I asked if he would like the bottle of cologne I had given to his father, and he was more than pleased to receive it. I didn't actually wrap it up and give it to him as a gift, but I was kind of acting like the re-gift broker in that deal. Technically speaking, I don't think it was re-gifting, but it's about the closest I've come to re-gifting anyway.

I can't say that I feel terribly comfortable with the idea of re-gifting. Usually, people put a lot of thought and, of course, their hard-earned money into the gifts they give. It seems like giving their gift to someone else would be very insensitive of their thought and effort. On the other hand, when I realized that my gift wasn't something my future husband would ever want or use, even I wanted to re-gift it to someone that would use and appreciate it. So I can see how re-gifting makes sense in certain circumstances. At least in our family, this felt comfortable and made everyone happier.

But what do you think? Have you ever re-gifted or received a gift you knew was re-gifted? Is it okay to re-gift rather than spend money on a gift for an office party or other group situation? Would you be offended to know your gift was given to someone else?

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Mr. Frugalwoods
Mr. Frugalwoods
5 years ago

We re-gift all the time! I think it just makes sense. If we’re not going to use something, and we know someone else would love it… why not give it to them? It’s also a great way to save money while reducing clutter in your house. We even have a dedicated “re-gift box” in the basement where we put things that we get as gifts but don’t actually need. When a random occasion comes along and we need a gift for someone we check the box first. If something in there fits the person we’re gifting, then great! If not,… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

I don’t see anything wrong with passing along a gift you won’t use. I often receive things I’m allergic to (food and drink, body products) so I share them with someone who can enjoy them. (In a “I can’t have this, would you enjoy it?” sort of way) When it comes to gifts, nobody gets it right all of the time. I hate to see things go unused. I don’t regift items anymore though. One time I put an unopened item in a gift basket and I never felt right about it even though I knew the person would enjoy… Read more »

NicoleAndmaggie
NicoleAndmaggie
5 years ago

We do it all the time with kids birthday parties. There are plenty of occasions when you need an impersonal gift, not something thoughtful.

http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/frugal-confession/

Neel V Kumar
Neel V Kumar
5 years ago

Re-gifting rules in our family. As does returning items to the store for credit. Kids grow so fast that often various outfits never get off the hangar before it is too late. So, we often re-gift clothes that never got the chance to be unwrapped. Same with toys. Our sane friends skip the entire buying experience and give us gift cards. We often re-gift those as well. I know for a fact that one really really fancy looking gift card with $50 on it has been circulating in our extended friend circle for the last 6 years. Just this year,… Read more »

Juli
Juli
5 years ago
Reply to  Neel V Kumar

You’ve got me really curious about this gift card that no one seems to want. Is it to some really outrageously expensive place where $50 wouldn’t buy anything? Why doesn’t someone just use it? Or is it just a family joke by now?

Neel V Kumar
Neel V Kumar
5 years ago
Reply to  Juli

It is for a regular department store. Nothing special. I guess the card is so pretty that it gets saved to be used last and then it gets re-gifted. I am guessing that it would get used the moment someone manages to bend it or damage it in some other way… 🙂

stellamarina
stellamarina
5 years ago
Reply to  Neel V Kumar

Which just shows how outrageous gift buying and giving has got anyway! Everybody has too much stuff and does not want or need more. Stop the gift giving…….except a few things for the kids and one for your significant other. If you want to give other adults something, make a pot of jam. Enough!

Bah Humbug! :o)

Zambian Lady
Zambian Lady
5 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

I have whose family only buy presents that they know will be used. They look at what each person needs and buy that, e.g. new pair of jeans for their son because he he has outgrown the old ones. I find this practical and it prevents waste.

two fish
two fish
5 years ago
Reply to  Neel V Kumar

When I give baby clothes as gifts, I buy larger sizes on the assumption the parents received enough newborn outfits from other people. My brother taught me to avoid the right size/wrong season mismatch when choosing clothes. Thus for a child born in July, I wouldn’t give 6-month short sleeve T-shirts.

Johanna
Johanna
5 years ago

If it’s something that you genuinely think the recipient can use, if you’re honest that it’s a regift, and if you’re not using it in lieu of another gift, then it’s fine. But if it’s some useless gadget that they probably can’t use either, you’re pretending it’s something you picked out especially for them, or you’re using it as a “get-out-of-gift-giving-occasion-free” card, not fine.

Joe+G
Joe+G
5 years ago
Reply to  Johanna

I have no problem with regifting something *in place of* another gift. Otherwise, you are simply passing something along. But if you are regifting a child’s toy that was a duplicate and it seems to be a good gift for the recipient, why not?

Kayla @ Femme Frugality
Kayla @ Femme Frugality
5 years ago

I have only re-gifted a couple of times. In high school one of my friends gave me a shirt and a necklace that I knew I’d never wear. They were so not my style. I was very careful to make sure that whomever I re-gifted them too would like them and also not use/wear them around the girl that gave them to me. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, they just weren’t the right style for me. (I thought they were hideous, but the girl I re-gifted them to loved them!)

BG
BG
5 years ago

In junior high, I gave a friend a unique necklace that I thought she would love. I few months later, I saw another mutual friend of ours wearing that same necklace. I admit, I was offended! Smart move to re-gift to people who don’t regularly see each other.

erica
erica
5 years ago

I have regifted almost everything given to me by my in-laws. Some of it was genuinely nice stuff (Riedel wine tumblers) which we didn’t need, some was downright tacky (reindeer menorah). I kept all things to be regifted in a box with a note stating when it was received and from who to avoid regifting to its original giver.

Chris
Chris
5 years ago

My favorite regifting story is when one of the Old Aunts gave a shower present to the fiancee of my cousin. The wedding was called off and the gift returned. Five years later, when my cousin is getting married to his wife, my Old Aunt gives her the same gift, with the same card, addressed to the first fiancee. Fortunately, his wife is kind and understanding, laughed along with everyone, forgave our aunt and is a much loved member of the family.

Mike
Mike
5 years ago

I’m regifting- Happy xmas to all and to all a good day.

https://www.getrichslowly.org/the-regift-friend-or-foe/

https://www.getrichslowly.org/battle-of-the-toy-bulge/
last line asked the readers

Juli
Juli
5 years ago

I have 2 boys, ages 4 and 6. They get oodles of Christmas gifts every year, far more than they need or will use. In the past, they have gotten tons of toys that we just can’t keep. So I will let them open a couple right away, keep a couple to bring out later in the year, and then put some away to be given as birthday gifts when needed. They are now getting to the point where they actually remember what they are given, but when they are younger they don’t remember it at all. Just makes sense… Read more »

Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi
5 years ago

For our wedding, we received some dessert glassware that I swear had been re-gifted for at least a decade. The box was pretty worn, faded, and had a 90s look to it.

That being said, I have no problem with re-gifting. If I receive something I don’t want that I know someone else would, why not?

Frugal Dan
Frugal Dan
5 years ago

I don’t have any qualms with re-gift. The act of giving and receiving is what matters in the relationship. If the individual graciously accepts the gift, then choose to dispose of it, why should I be offended?

Annette
Annette
5 years ago

I don’t like the whole idea of re-gifting Christmas or birthday gifts. If I get a present which I don’t like, want or need, I keep it for awhile and then eventually give it to a thrift store. If you find yourself getting a lot of gifts that you don’t want, maybe just telling the giver not to spend the money on you in the first place (or– ask for wine or chocolate, something you do like). I realize that this is near impossible with grandparents and kids. However. If I find someone re-gifting my gifts and not giving me… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago
Reply to  Annette

I would really like to understand this philosophy better–or is it more of an emotional response? It sounds like you are saying that if you give a gift to a person and the person doesn’t like it, you want that person to give it to a stranger via driving it to a thrift shop rather than the person giving it to somebody they know and love.

It would be great if we could eliminate as much gift-giving as possible, but that doesn’t seem likely in our shopoholic society.

Annette
Annette
5 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Well, just my pov. I would give it to a friend, but not re-wrapped as a birthday or Christmas gift– but rather just give it to them when I saw them, or as an everyday kind of present.

I agree that there’s too much consumerism around the holidays

mary w
mary w
5 years ago

I’ve re-gifted a lot over the years. I have several groups of friends that have very little overlap and we all exchange gifts in one form or another. All are in the <$20 or <$10 range…Christmas ornaments, flavored tea, body lotion, etc. If it's something that doesn't grab me I use as soon as possible to someone in another group.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago

I would really like to understand why there is opposition to re-gifting. The decision to re-gift is in response to not liking or needing a gift–the person doesn’t need/want the gift so what does one do with it. How is this different from giving a gift receipt? For me, I don’t mind re-gifting at all and expect the same from others. If I purchased something for another person and they didn’t like it, I would WANT them to re-gift it to another person. At least they would get some use out of it. I guess the other alternative is to… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Ha! Good point. If you’re putting genuine thought into a gift, does it matter how you acquired it?

Beard Better
Beard Better
5 years ago

“Why would it ever not be?” is really the better question to be asking. The answer, I suspect, is because we have been taught that gifts should have value in proportion to your feelings about someone. Even marriage proposals, one of the most emotionally intimate moments two people can share together, has been poisoned by consumerism. “That ring had better be at least three months’ salary” is what we are told; the implication is that the partner proposing is a cheapskate, or the partner accepting such a ludicrous ring has standards that are too low. To Hell with the expensive… Read more »

DealForALiving
DealForALiving
5 years ago

I believe strongly in re-gifting when appropriate. When someone buys me something I either don’t want or don’t need then after thanking them profusely, I start thinking about who would really love that item.

I’ve done it with clothes, magazine subscriptions, and a bread maker.

Suzanne
Suzanne
5 years ago

When I was growing up, my mom kept a drawer in her bedroom for future gifts, including things that were given to us that we would never use. Often these were from (close in lineage but not emotion) relatives who sent us Avon or Lillian Vernon gifts because they didn’t know us at all but felt compelled to give us something. If we liked it, we used it, but most of the time it went into the gift drawer. (And it wasn’t just us. Said relatives accidentally sent us something one year that we’d sent them the year before. My… Read more »

Erica W.
Erica W.
5 years ago

I get lots of candles and wine and chocolates as hostess gifts around the holidays. I often re-gift them when I go to a party. I’m sure some of them are re-gifted when they come to me. I have no problem with re-gifting. Whenever I get something store-bought that I don’t want/can’t use, I’m happy to pass it along when I know someone would appreciate it. I wouldn’t re-gift a handmade gift.

two fish
two fish
5 years ago

Not exactly a regift, but I found a taker for a gift a relative couldn’t use, and I knew someone who could. It was a fantasy baseball board game requiring a baseball card collection, which my relative didn’t have. My acquaintance did.

Babs
Babs
5 years ago

I think thoughtful re-gifting is perfectly acceptable.
You might want to check what’s in the box though. Make sure the wedding gift doesn’t have your name engraved on it.

Vawt @ Early Retirement Ahead
Vawt @ Early Retirement Ahead
5 years ago

I think it is okay to re-gift more non-personal things like gift cards. I have done that occasionally, but I wouldn’t re-gift a sweater that my mother-in-law buys me. Part of early retirement is begin frugal with your money and your budget. I think re-gifting is a valid tool for that purpose.

Marie
Marie
5 years ago

All for re-gifting, if you know the person you are giving it to is a better fit than you. My mother gave me a beautiful burned-wood spoon with a dryad on it. Unfortunately, I need to keep my entire kitchen utilitarian and dishwasher safe or it turns into a biohazard. I’m totally putting it in a housewarming gift basket for a friend who takes care of beautiful things and doesn’t have a dishwasher. (She loves nature too, the etching is perfect).

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

I once read that many people who have money issues, often get that way by spending much more than they should on gifts/items for other people. I think there has been to much emphasis on giving ‘things’ to people, where a very nice note or letter would be just as good. When I was 20, I was in a terrible situation financially. I gave my roommate a box of cookies which I found on sale at the grocery store where I worked and gave it to her for Christmas. My sister found out and told my father who came over… Read more »

SM
SM
5 years ago

Re-gifting is inconsiderate. If you don’t want something, but someone else would just give it to them. Don’t pretend it’s a gift.

Home-made items aren’t as thoughtful as everyone thinks. Especially if you give everyone you know the same thing. I don’t think most people really want cookie mix or jam or infused olive oil. or any more food for the holiday.

Spend time with your friends and make some fun memories.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  SM

Speak for yourself– I will gladly take any homemade jam or infused olive oil that you don’t want. (And my kids would love the cookie mix.) Regift that this away.

Jane
Jane
5 years ago
Reply to  SM

Here is a perfect example of knowing the person, and choosing the right gift. I would rather someone give me a recipe, but not cookie mix. I am a very good cook and wouldn’t need the mix, but I love a good recipe. So know your recipient, and gift thoughtfully.

Denise
Denise
5 years ago

Try a white elephant exchange at your next Christmas party. You’ll be surprised over how many people will fight over a gift that you just couldn’t use.

Kris L.
Kris L.
5 years ago

I re-gift, but never in the same circles. For instance, if a friend gave me a picture frame or a candle I’ll never use, I can re-gift it to a co-worker or a family member. Don’t cross the streams, people.

As long as it’s a new item that the person would like, I don’t see the harm in it.

Michelle
Michelle
5 years ago

I regift, especially if it is a great gift, but isn’t my style.

Marie
Marie
5 years ago

Regifting is okay if done properly. Giving used items is even okay, in some situations. If you are trying to replace a vintage item or find a look-alike, you may find auctions and the like to be your only option. My mother was thrilled when I managed to replace a cracked crystal candle holder from a four-piece set she got as a wedding gift in the 70s, though it was long since discontinued and I had no choice but to buy used.

Margaret
Margaret
5 years ago

I grew up in a middle class family and re-gifting was akin to hand-me-downs – that is something to be valued and appreciated because someone thought of us and what we needed or liked. I have severe allergies to many foods and perfumes and through the years have gotten wonderful bath sets and flavored chocolates that could quite literally kill me. I thank the giver (who sometimes just forgets I’m allergic since I try not to make a big deal of it)and then re-gift to others I know will appreciate them. In return I’ve had many friends give me wrapped… Read more »

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