To 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.