5 Rules of Regifting

anna-postTo regift or not to regift? It's possibly the most polarizing question in all of etiquette.

To some, it’s as tacky as tacky gets. To others, it’s driven by a desire to be practical, and give away things they know they will never use.

My take? I’m all about “reduce/reuse/recycle.” But I believe you should avoid regifting whenever possible—it misses the spirit of thoughtfully choosing a gift with the receiver in mind.

Worse, when regifting goes wrong, the hurt feelings just aren’t worth the few bucks you saved by not buying a present.

That said, I understand that sometimes it’s just too convenient. Gifts can be recycled—but only rarely and only when all of the following criteria are met:

You're certain the gift is something the recipient would really like.
The gift is brand new and comes with its packaging.
The gift isn't unique, personalized, or homemade. (No passing along the neighbor's fresh pesto, when your loved ones know you can't cook, OK?)
There’s nothing to identify the gift as being regifted—i.e. a sales receipt or gift card tucked inside.
The original giver will never find out that you passed along their present: i.e. if your co-worker knitted booties for your baby, don't give them to the next new mom at the office.

Simply put, regifting is fraught with risks. If you choose this route, make sure you don't hurt anyone’s feelings. Best case, be transparent: "I happened to get two copies of this book, and I thought you'd love one." That's both an honest gesture and a gift that's genuine.

Give it up. Share your worst regifting fiasco or best advice for getting it right.

Anna Post is the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, the co-author of Great Get-Togethers, and the author of Do I Have To Wear White? Emily Post Answers America's Top Wedding Questions.

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