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12 No-Nonsense Rules of Regifting

Gifts are a big deal—especially in America. In fact, getting gifts is one of the top five love languages and the reason so many people are desperately in debt. Think about it . . . gifts are expected at weddings, baby showers, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. For every major holiday, there’s a gift to be given (and gotten). So that leaves us with a lot of “stuff.”

So, what happens when the gift you got didn’t quite hit the mark? What if it’s a gift you can’t return? Or what if you just want to Marie Kondo your home and get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t spark joy?

Listen: There’s nothing wrong with a little regifting here and there. In fact, it can really help you along in your journey toward financial peace (and a minimalist home). But like with most socially acceptable things, there are rules—especially if you want to pull it off successfully.

Don’t worry, we’ve come up with 12 rules of regifting that will help you organize your budget, declutter your home, and keep your relationships intact. Check it out:

12 No-Nonsense Rules of Regifting

1. Don’t be cheap.

We all know what it’s like to feel like an afterthought. That’s why rule number one is all about your motivation. It’s totally fine to regift—especially if you’re trying to hustle after those huge financial goals you set at the new year. But don’t let saving money be the only reason you regift something. The key here is to ask yourself one valuable question: Is this a gift I would actually spend money on for (insert name)? If so, you can give yourself (and your gift) the green light. But if it’s a pair of work gloves your company gave out for free—that’s just being cheap.

2. Take the gift tags off.

There’s nothing worse than getting a gift with someone else’s name on it. (There are probably worse things, but somebody somewhere is in counseling for this.) If Santa gave you something you already have but your best friend would love it, just take the gift tags off. Or if you just got a beautiful sweater—that doesn’t fit—make sure the gift tag is nowhere to be found. And this leads us to our next rule . . .

3. Rewrapping is mandatory.

Yup—take the gift tags off, then go ahead and rewrap that sweater. Instead of letting the gift be a reminder of the person who gave it to you, you can give the gift new life. Let rewrapping the gift be a reminder of the person you’re giving it to—and that they’ll be the perfect recipient of that sweater. Hopefully, they’ll love it more than you ever could!

4. Remember who gave you the gift.

This one is important. When you get a gift, make a mental note of who gave it to you. Let’s say your well-meaning Aunt Louise gives you a candle-making kit for Christmas. While you like candles, you hate anything DIY.

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Fast-forward a few years and you find a candle-making kit in your closet. And wouldn’t you know it, this would be the perfect gift for your Aunt Louise—she loves crafting. Yikes. If only we could see the surprise and disbelief on Aunt Louise’s kind face. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

5. There’s a time limit.

In theory, fruitcake has an expiration date. But even if you’re not regifting food, remember that trends come and go. So those trendy and hip gifts of yesterday are going to be out of style (like the words trendy and hip). For example, there aren’t a lot of people who want your unopened NOW That’s What I Call Music CD from 2010. And we mean very few.

Psst. Another tip: The time limit rule is in place to help you too. If you wait too long to regift, you’re likely going to forget who gave you the gift in the first place. You don’t want another Aunt Louise and the DIY candle saga on your hands, do you?

6. Family heirlooms are a no-no.

This should go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway: Don’t give family heirlooms away. For example, your mom sentimentally gave you your grandmother’s fancy brooch last month. You know you won’t wear it, but you have a friend who loves vintage items and would adore it. That’s fine, but don’t regift that brooch. Instead, hit up a thrift store for your friend and keep the brooch in your jewelry box where it belongs.

7. Put some thought into it.

Receiving gifts is a love language for a reason. But giving a gift (or even regifting a gift) isn’t going to be meaningful unless you put some thought into it. If your mom gave you a new necklace and it’s not quite your style—but it does remind you of your best friend—that’s a good regift! But if you got a furry keychain for Christmas and gave it to your co-worker because you just don’t want it—that doesn’t count as meaningful.

8. Regift in moderation.

When we say in moderation, we mean it. You don’t want to make a bad name for yourself around the Christmas tree. If you’ve been known to regift over and over (especially around the same group of people), they’re going to catch on. And that definitely won’t feel good for you or for them.

9. Be spontaneous.

It’s okay to regift just for the fun of it. Let’s say you received a book from work and know you’re never going to read it. So instead of letting it sit on your shelf and collect dust, give it to a friend who will enjoy it. And nope—you don’t have to save regifting for Christmas or birthdays. Be spontaneous. Plus, there’s no guilt associated with the fact that you didn’t actually spend money on it. That’s a win-win in our book!

10. Don’t regift meaningful gifts.

This one should be a no-brainer, but we’re going to go over it anyway. If your sister gave you a beautiful hand-knitted scarf for Christmas last year, it might break her little heart to know you regifted it to your friend for their birthday. And while it may not have been your most prized possession, she poured her time, energy and love into every tiny knit and purl stitch. So yeah—when it comes to handmade or extremely thoughtful gifts, just keep those around.

11. Be honest.

Maybe you accidentally regifted an iPhone case back to Jason, who gave it to you last year. Or maybe you forgot to take the gift tag off the bag. Okay, you screwed up. If you find yourself in that situation, own it. Sure, it’s embarrassing at first, but be honest about why you regifted the item and move on.

12. Don’t forget about donation centers.

Sometimes, the item you’re regifting just isn’t gift worthy. Be honest with yourself about it. If you don’t want it, if it’s outdated or if it’s something you don’t think anyone else will want . . . try donating it. Organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army or even Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore will gladly take those gently used and unwanted items off your hands. 

Regifting Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Some items are great for regifting, while others are completely off-limits. To help you avoid a regifting disaster, here are some items that are great for regifting . . . and some that aren’t.

Great Regifting Ideas:

  • New household items, like small appliances, dish towels or blankets
  • Unused bath products, like soaps, lotions or bubble bath
  • Uneaten and unopened gourmet foods, like a tin of cookies, a canister of teas or a box of chocolates (remember to check the expiration date)
  • Unopened bottles of wine and other spirits
  • Candles
  • Gift cards (check to make sure the balance hasn’t expired and the card isn’t personalized to you)
  • Unopened gift baskets
  • Books—in excellent condition
  • New-with-tags clothing (make sure the item is either pretty ordinary—like a scarf and gloves—or the perfect gift for the recipient)
  • Unopened perfume and fragrances
  • Inexpensive jewelry
  • Board games, toys and puzzles
  • Novelty or gag gifts

Not-So-Great Regifting Ideas:

  • Anything monogrammed or handmade
  • Anything signed
  • Anything that’s been opened
  • Dated technology, like a GPS navigation system or an iPod
  • Opened CDs and Blu-rays
  • Used undergarments
  • Anything that’s just plain bad (if you don’t like it, chances are the recipient won’t like it either)

Moral of the story? Regifting can actually be a beautiful thing—but only if it’s done thoughtfully and with love. Not only can it save you money and keep your house organized, but it can make someone’s day, month or even year if you do it right. So, stick to these guidelines and you’ll be the regifting expert that no one ever knew about (because snitches get stitches).

Want to give a gift that keeps on giving (or regifting)? Check out these life-changing gifts from the Ramsey online store. There’s something for everyone—because life-change is on everyone’s wish list.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners.

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