Regifting, or sometimes called regiving, is the giving a gift you received to somebody else while trying to pass it off as a new gift. In American pop culture, the holiday fruitcake regifting myth is probably the first thing that comes to mind. The story is something like that there aren’t actually any new fruitcakes, just old ones that are just constantly regifted back and forth between everybody. Nobody likes fruitcake, and nobody ever eats it, so they are forever being given to a new person. Although the term has been around for a very long time, it probably really took off after it was the focus of a Seinfeld episode in the mid 90s. A minor character gives Jerry Seinfeld a label-maker that had been given to him by Elaine, and so she labelled him a “regifter”.
Now, the question you might have is whether or not there is any occasion when it is ok to regift something you received to somebody else. In short, yes it can be ok in some cases to regive a gift. I wouldn’t suggest that it works in all situations, and it’s not an excuse to just regive any old thing when you’re too lazy to come up with something new.
When Regifting is a Good Idea
So, when is it ok to give something that you yourself has previously received as a gift? These are some occasions where it is considered acceptable, and even kind, to pass that gift along to another person.
If there is something you own, that has a long family history, or a well known importance; something like a piece of jewelery that has been in the family for generations, or maybe an artwork that has been in the family home for many years. Passing these keepsakes down to the next generation, or other family and friends can be a show of great love and importance. It is recognizing that while you have enjoyed ownership of this important heirloom, you now wish for somebody else to have the chance to experience what you have over the past many years.
When Regifting is Not a Good Idea
Regifting is not a good idea if you think the other person will recognize it as a regift. It can be a bad label to carry, and most people won’t forget it for a long time. Before you consider regifting something, you should check to see if you can return it. If you can’t return it to the store, maybe you could potentially sell it somewhere like eBay.
You should not try to regift something if it has been used. Even if you think they won’t notice, giving something as a used item can be quite tactless. Hand me downs should be the outdated clothes you mom made you wear as a kid, not the gift you give to someone as an adult.
When you do think it will be ok to regift something, use these tips to make sure it goes off smoothly.
Check for any cards or notes that will give away it was previously a gift for another person.
Make sure the gift has not been personalized in anyway. If there is any engraving or monogramming, you should not pass it on.
The gift should be in new condition and have no perceivable difference with one you just bought new at a store yourself. This means if you don’t have the original packaging, or safety seals have already been broken, it wouldn’t be a good idea to regift.
Make sure the recipient doesn’t know that you have previously received this item as a gift. It’s good if you can regift items to people in different groups of friends or family who don’t have contact with each other.
Rewrap the gift in appropriate wrapping for the occasion. If it is a seasonal box or bag that doesn’t match with the current one, change it up for something that is relevant.