Regifting old Christmas presents

I think we’ve all been given something we really don’t want as a Christmas gift. And some people will give that gift to someone else the following Christmas or birthday – giving away a gift you received is called regifting.

Is regifting just cheap and nasty?

Nervous toddler with a Christmas giftAt first glance, many of us would be uncomfortable about regifting – it does seem a bit cheap and nasty to give away something you didn’t pay for or even put time into choosing as a gift.

Then there’s the risk of the original person finding out you regifted their present and potentially being hurt by your actions.

But maybe it isn’t always a bad thing…

When regifting is ok

The times I think regifting could be acceptable if it is something you genuinely would get for that person anyway – because they need or want it.  For example, if you were given a book about your aunt’s favourite artist, she would probably love getting that as a gift – and it does nobody any good on your bookshelf if you don’t like that artist

As for not spending money on it, well Christmas and gifts shouldn’t be just about the money we spend anyway. And if you had been given a gift you actually liked, you would have spent the money on the new gift; instead, you reuse that gift and spend the money buying yourself something instead. It sort of works out!

If you are worried about the money aspect, buy something small to go along with the regifted item.

Remember that no one will ever know you regifted something unless you tell them  – I mean, how often do we ask for proof someone actually bought the gift themselves?

The important thing, however, is to protect the feelings of the person who originally gave you the gift – especially if you know they put effort into giving your something nice. So don’t regift something in front of the original gifter.

Receiving a regifted item

Have you ever knowingly received a regifted item for Christmas or a birthday? How did it make you feel?

* Photo courtesy of 123rf

48 Responses to Regifting old Christmas presents

  • Irr says:

    Christmas shouldn’t be only about presents, in my opinion. But many like to follow this tradition.

    In my opinion, regifting is nothing bad. Instead of wasting money in a present, you can make other person happy with the present that you received, even if you liked it, I think that you would feel better if you give it to a person that would use and enjoy it more.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      I absolutely agree that Christmas should be more than presents, especially the value of the presents, Irr.

      SO if someone would like what you regift them, then I think it’s ok – regifting to just get rid of something without worrying if the other person wants it is not so good in my mind.

  • Kayde says:

    I had never thought about re-gifting as a way to better use something. I don’t feel so guilty now thinking about re-gifting some items.

  • violino says:

    Honestly? I don’t remember a present I didn’t like. Maybe because for years everyone’s been asking others what they would like to get anyway. And I don’t care what I get, I don’t like being given. What I like is to give but as well not when there’s occasion and I HAVE TO do it but whenever I want because I’ve found something nice for that person.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      How wonderful to not remember a gift you didn’t like, violin!It is true that more people ask and give what someone asks for these days – I remember it being more about surprise when i was a kid.

      It is nicer to give because you WANT to rather than feeling obliged or having people think you bought because you HAD to.

  • Mandy says:

    I think regifting is fine as long as you are giving the gift to someone who will like it and use it. There are times when I get some nice items that are just not my taste, in that case I will often regift them to someone who would like it.

  • proxpromo says:

    I personally have never regifted an item. I see nothing wrong with it if it is something you really do not want/need and if the person you are gifting it really would appreciate it.
    For myself I would just feel uncomfortable doing it and be worried about what the person who originally gave me the gift would think if they found out.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      I agree proxpromo – the feelings of the original gift-giver have to be considered and protected, but the principle of regifting is ok if the new recipient will like the item.

  • iloveyou78 says:

    For me, regifting is not an option. Aside from how the person who gave me the gift feels, I give value to anything that is given to me. I just don’t give them away. I will let others borrow, but not to be given. It is not to be rude, but the value really matters to me no matter how cheap or expensive the gift is 🙂 God bless!:)

  • SantaLover says:

    I have received regifts, and it wasn’t always something I wanted. I like the idea of buying a small gift to add in, especially if you know the person will like it.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Regifting just to get rid of something or because you can’t be bothered finding a gift makes me feel very uncomfortable – I only like the idea if the recipient will like it (than agin, I prefer that for original gifts, too!)

  • kitchencatlover says:

    I can never personally say that I’ve been given something someone has re-gifted. However, I can say that I’ve re-gifted. One year I was given a video game twice by both of my parents (they’re divorced) and I had forgotten to get my older brother anything. So I thought quickly and re-wrapped one of the copies of the game and gave it to him while we were unwrapping gifts. Needless to say he automatically know I had re-gifted and it was pretty awkward. I won’t be doing that anymore. I believe re-gifted should only be used when desperate, or when you have no use for the item.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      What a pity your brother noticed what you did, kitchencatlover.

      I wouldn’t ever plan on regifting but if I wouldn’t use it and someone else would then I don’t see a problem (as long the original giver is protected).

  • Jlovesj325 says:

    I see no problem in re-gifting as long as the item is in good condition and not worn. This past Christmas I re-gifted a present my son never opened that sat in the closet. The child I gave it to loved it!

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Eww, images of regifting something worn out is not good!

      Kids aren’t fussy – you give them something they like and they won’t care if you bought it or regifted it!

    • karmaskeeper says:

      I agree I see no reason why regifting should be an issue. I’ve gotten gifts for Christmas that I liked, but I just didn’t use. It would set for awhile unused, and when a birthday came around for a friend. I would wrap the gift with wrapping paper and regift it.I would make sure, however that my friend was not a friend of the family member in which the gift came from in the first place. Just to be on the safe side, wouldn’t won’t to take the chance of it being discovered.

  • Mystique says:

    I used to work in a huge company and every year, the company owner threw a Christmas party. One of my colleagues regifted a gift and one of the managers remembered the gift! Can you believe it? She humiliated my colleague in front of everyone and it was so bad, that my colleague cried. Thank goodness, a few people said that they had recycled their gifts as well. Funny thing was that the CEO didn’t mind at all because he said the occasion was not about presents, anyway.

    What I have learned from my boyfriend’s mother is that you don’t have to give one huge gift for Christmas. You can buy several small things for one person. When I think about it – it’actually a better way of showing that person that you put a lot of thought into the gifts. For example, last year, I received 5 gifts from his parents, which all of them were things I would use and love. My boyfriend followed after her and we bought several things for each person and that saved us a lot of money, to be honest.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Hi Mystique 🙂 How sad the manager chose to humiliate your colleague, although she was probably embarrassed. Good that the CEO saw the whole thing as more than presents.

      I always think it is the thought and real value that counts for a gift, not the monetary value, size or number of the gifts. I would much prefer a $10 gift that is useful to me than a $20 thing that will just collect dust or tempt me to regift!

  • tajnz says:

    I’ve never regifted a present, not because I’m against the practice just because I cherish anything someone gives me because it comes from someone I care about. Perhaps I’m too sentimental. Sometimes people choose presents for me that I would never have looked at twice in a store however I find I often end up liking the item after all.
    The only regifted gift I’ve received would be chocolate or unused beauty products. I don’t mind as they are both things people get a lot of at Christmas but that I’ll gladly use. Sometimes people are honest and say “I’m allergic to strawberries you can have this body wash if you want” however these gifts are usually extra gifts and not the main gift.
    It’s the thought that counts perhaps if someone forgot about me and had to quickly regift something I’d feel a pang of sadness but otherwise I don’t mind if they genuinely feel I’d get some enjoyment out of the gift.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      It is nice to appreciate gifts you reecieve so I understand what you’re saying, tajnz.
      If someone gives me a gift they think I would like, I appreciate that whether they bought it, made it or even regifted it – it would be the ‘opps qhat can we give her because we forgot her’ that would hurt, not the regifting itself.

  • TabithaW says:

    I do not think I have ever regifted anything. If don’t want it I just find someone who does. I am always afraid if I regift it will get back to the person who gave it to me.

  • Waynefire says:

    I had one family member who would always give me the classic fruit cake. She did not realize I would not touch the fruit cake that was store bought and would rather put it in the can or use it for target practice. Then I found out one of my friends really loved fruit cake. So I just had to wait until I got the cake and then rewrap it to hand off again.

  • ACSAPA says:

    I think it’s okay to regift but it depends on the intent. You should regift something that you know the recipient will love and use. You should not regift an unsuitable gift just to get rid of it, that doesn’t make anyone happy.
    If you’re regifting a present to someone that the item is perfect for, then you’re doing a good deed by finding a better home for that item and making someone happy.

  • pocs says:

    I agree ACSAPA, although I have never practiced family and friends usually exchange cookies, we have a soup party, make gifts etc. I see nothing wrong with it, why not pass something on to someone who may treasure, like or use it rather than stash it in a closet or under the bed.

  • Magic Pixel says:

    If you can’t make use of something and the occasion doesn’t warrant saving or using something as a keepsake then regifting is a good way to not let it go to waste. Someone else can use it for sure. But sometimes the case is when you give it to someone close to both you and the gifter, it can step on the gifter’s feelings.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      While I agree completely with not hurting anyone’s feelings, Magic Pixel, I wonder if we’re assuming too much… I know various people who would have no idea what they gave someone last Christmas (or birthday) – I’ve had a couple of experiences where someone has complimented me on something (most recent example was a scarf) they had actually given me previously! I’m sure I could regift soem items directly to that person and they’d be happy! I’d never risk it, but I think I could!

  • chocbunny80 says:

    I have regifted a couple of times. I must admit I felt slightly guilty. But the gifts were something I would never use, or already owned, and I knew the recipient would love. I would always make sure that I knew who the gift was originally from, and whether the intended recipient knew them – that way I could avoid egg on my face as it would be unlikely they would find out!

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Sounds like the perfect solution for everyone, chocbunny80 🙂 It does feel strange to do it, but leave the guilt behind as you’re giving someone what they like after all.

  • pocs says:

    My husbands work has a secret gift exchange, they set a spending limit and the gifts have to be something anyone would want or use. They have a big box at the entrance of the shop as you come in to work you drop your wrapped present in the box. Later at the party they pull numbers to decide the order of gift choosing. No one knows who gave what, I know you could regift with this situation without hurting anyone’s feelings.

  • pocs says:

    I’ve heard “Kris Kringles” before, living in the states I’m not sure what that is. It kind of sounds like what we call Polly Anna

    • Santa's Elf says:

      I have no idea what a Polly Anna is – other than the happy character in an old book anyway.

      Kris Kringle is where each person in a group buys one present for a (usually randomly) selected person rather than each person buying for all. SOme call it a Secret Santa, I believe.

      Is that anything like a Polly Anna?

  • pocs says:

    We have the secret Santa which is also like the Kris Kringle. Polly Anna, and how it got that name, I have NO idea, is where everyone participating puts their name in a hat, and everyone picks one name from the hat. That is who you give a present too and keep it a secret. You wrap it without telling who the gift is for, but not from. They do it slot at children’s holiday parties.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      A Polly Anna is one way we do Kris Kringle or Secret Santa in Australia – it is the traditional way but the term has expanded to include people knowing who bought for them, etc. I liked the surprise version better myself 🙂

  • lrlady66 says:

    I too believe that regifting can be a blessing to someone that can put it to good use. Sometimes in the past I have received cook books that just sat on my shelf because I don’t like to experiment much with recipes and I am not much of a cook. However, I had a friend who loves to cook and was always pulling recipes from magazines at work. She was delighted to receive a cook book full of dessert and cookie recipes. I felt good because I knew that she would use the book. In fact, she brought us goodies that she baked following the recipes in the book. I think that was one of the finest thank you’s I ever received.

  • Lisa Jean Hawkins says:

    My family give a whole new meaning to re-gifting. Each year at Christmas Eve we celebrate with my Mom. If there were any gifts that no one wanted we would yell re gift, so the next year, we pile on the table all the re gifted gifts. We then make it into a game. We will draw numbers and each person gets a chance to chose from the table or take someone else re gift. This way no one gets their feeling hurt and everyone knows it’s re gift. We actually now buy just to re gift because we have so much fun with it.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      That’s really cool, Lisa – thanks for sharing that family tradition. You’ve turned something potentially touchy into a game so everyone leaves happy – perfect!

  • darkmeiji says:

    Oh. I am guilty of re-gifting sometimes, usually when I miscounted the number of gifts or forgot someone. I have some groups of people who I give generic gifts (such as officemates who I do not know that well; and the office staff, etc). So sometimes, especially when I am starting shopping early, I just buy things I like then assign them later. And then, a day before the Christmas party, I realize, I am missing one or two gifts or I don’t like the gifts I have enough to give to my friend or someone else. So I recycle some gifts that I know I will not use or I have received too much for that year…

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Perfectly reasonable actions I think darkmeiji. When you have a long list and spread the shopping over time it is easy to miss someone of the list – I try to have a few things on hand for that situation and regifting items fall into that category, too, I think.

  • Trissandra says:

    In my opinion regifting old Christmas presents is rude and unpleasant. It usually means that the person we gave a present doesn’t respect us. It happened to me once when I was renting an apertment with my uni friends. I gave a bottle of expensive wine to my landlady and next year she gave it back to me for Christmas. It’s hard to believe that she forgot who had given her that particular bottle of wine. I would never do something like that.

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