Admit it. You’ve totally taken a present you were just given, gone home, and rewrapped it to give to someone else. More than 75 percent of Americans think regifting is socially acceptable and 42 percent admitted to regifting last year, according to data collected by American Express. It all works best, however, when no one is the wiser that it’s happening.
Here’s a three-step plan for how to regift on the down low.
1. Regift strategically.
Most people will re-give to a friend (41 percent), coworker (32 percent), and sibling (29 percent), according to AmEx. It almost goes without saying that if you’re going to regift, it should be a present that the recipient didn’t see you open or give to you (it happens!).
And while you might feel completely safe, say, regifting something your aunt gave you to a coworker, do a little digging just in case. Cross-reference the original giver and the new getter’s Facebook friends to make sure they don’t have overlapping circles. You can never be too careful. Your aunt might be really popular.
2. Completely repackage the gift.
Never, ever regift a present without revamping the bag or wrapping. “I actually received a gift bag recently that had a note in the bottom for someone else … oops,” says etiquette instructor Callista Gould, who works with the Culture and Manners Institute. Be sure to remove all original wrapping, the card (and torn envelope), any gift tags, and that telltale crumpled tissue paper.
Hey, if you’re not spending any money on the gift itself, you can at least splurge on some new wrapping, right?
3. Regift only good gifts.
“Regifting is like handing someone your leftovers instead of inviting them to dinner,” Gould says. Unless, of course, you’re regifting nice presents. Think: a pretty scarf you know your sister would wear more than you would, or a chic serving tray your cousin could really use.
Don’t think of regifting as trying to get rid of stuff you don’t want, but as a form of conscious recycling. Plus, when you find the best possible home for good gifts you may not use to their full potential, you also reduce clutter in your own home.
Next, 10 presents to give again.
As for what to regift, here are 10 presents you can give again:
1. Gift cards for stores you don’t like. If you know you won’t cash it in yourself, give it to someone who will. Gift cards in smaller denominations (like for iTunes and coffee or ice cream shops) also make great stocking stuffers.
2. Food or treat gift baskets. As long as they’re from a place like Harry & David or Dean & DeLuca (i.e., not homemade), these baskets make great hostess gifts for that New Year’s party you’re going to.
3. Flowers or décor arrangements. If your coworker brings you a potted succulent for Christmas, regift it the next time you go to a housewarming (just make sure it’s not the same coworker).
4. Toys your kids won’t play with. If you can’t outright regift them to another child you know, donate them to Toys for Tots so another kid can enjoy them.
5. Neutral accessories. As long as the colors or patterns aren’t totally wacky, most women on your list would probably appreciate a new scarf, clutch, or set of bangles. A tween or teen might especially relish “grown-up” items like these.
6. Bath products. A regifted “pamper yourself” basket can be a great option for the female family member who’s hard to shop for.
7. Coffee and mug sets. These gifts are perfect for a coworker or neighbor you don’t know very well. They can also work for Secret Santa/White Elephant exchanges.
8. Gifts you don’t love and can return for store credit. Say your grandma got you a sweater from Nordstrom and she included a gift receipt in the box. Return the sweater for a store credit and put a solid amount on one card (like $40) and the remaining (dollars and change) on another. You can regift the $40 to your boss, a friend, whomever, and use the leftovers the next time you shop there yourself.
9. Books you won’t read. If you don’t see yourself reading it, regift it. Chances are there’s someone on your list who will love it. For added flair, repackage the book with other items to make the present more robust. For example, if it’s a baking cookbook, give it with a pretty bowl and a colorful spatula.
10. Entertaining items. Wood platters, coasters, or cocktail glass sets all make great New Year’s Eve hostess gifts, housewarming gifts, or even birthday gifts depending on the recipient.
[Editor’s note: This was originally published December 27th 2014.]