The art of regifting

Clutter Free Regifting

Christmas is over, dinners have been had, and presents have been unwrapped… did you get everything you wished for?

We hope you did, but according to new research by the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association, not everyone was that lucky. The survey found that Brits receive an average of two unwanted gifts every Christmas, and although a third (33.1%) are donated to charity, and a further 20.8% are put away and forgotten about in people’s homes, almost one in five unwanted Christmas gifts (amounting to nearly 23 million presents), are set to end up in landfill in the UK alone. 

Instead of taking something you already know you won’t use or wear, and hiding it in the attic, or burying it deep into the back of your closet, or, worse still, sending perfectly good items to landfill, how about regifting them to someone who will truly appreciate it?

Regifting, yes or no?

The term ‘regifting’ was popularized in a 1995 episode of NBC sitcom Seinfeld ("The Label Maker"), where Jerry gets a present that was originally bought by Elaine for someone else. 

The etiquette surrounding regifting is a bit vague, while some people think it’s perfectly acceptable to pass on a present that you’ve received, others think it isn’t. Just like Elaine in that groundbreaking Seinfeld episode, many feel like the receiver who chooses to regift isn’t appreciative enough of the time and effort put by the giver into purchasing that item.

We say, that rather than seeing something go to waste and not being used, it’s better to hand it over to someone who truly needs it or that will truly cherish it. Not only is regifting a good way to keep your home clutter free, but it’s also great news for the planet, as it reduces the carbon emissions of sending something to landfill, as well as keeping valuable resources in use and in circulation.

A few simple rules

As much as regifting is good for the planet, we want to act sustainably while still not hurting the feelings of the person who handed us over the present, as most gifts are given in good faith.

Consumer psychologists in fact tell us that the amount of time we spend choosing a present remains considerably greater than the time we spend buying a similar item for personal consumption, so keep that in mind and think things through.

  • Only give a gift that is new and in perfect condition.

Regift only brand new items in their original packaging. If it’s something you didn’t unwrap this year and you’ve only now considered regifting, inspect it thoroughly for any signs of wear and tear. Also, look out for monogramming or hidden messages and heartfelt notes tucked away, as it may have been a personalized item.

  • Keep the recipient in mind.

As we said earlier, most gifts are given in good faith, so carry that spirit along with the regift. Do not just give an item away for the sake of getting rid of it. Think it through and make sure that person needs it and would actually be excited to own it. Try to be just as thoughtful as you are when buying a new gift for someone. 

  • Be honest but be comfortable.

If a close friend or a close family member asks where you purchased the gift, be honest about its origins. Maybe don’t even wrap it up and don’t wait to give it to them on a birthday or on a special occasion. If you received something that you don’t appreciate or need (let’s say you get gifted a copy of a book you already own, or a shirt that isn’t really your style) but that you know your brother or your best friend would enjoy, simply hand it over, explaining that you think they would get more joy out of it than you.

If the same question comes from an acquaintance maybe stay vague, but in the end, do what makes you feel comfortable.

  • Do not regift inside the same social circle.

Keep in mind that some of your social circles may overlap, so be careful not to regift to someone who knows or interacts with the original gift giver as that would just make things extremely awkward. The more unusual the item, the more distance should be put between the giver and re-giftee.

  • Presentation counts.

Put effort into rewrapping the gift. Find some eco-friendly ideas here.

  • Donate to someone who genuinely wants/needs it.

If you can’t think of anyone you know that will genuinely appreciate your regifting, then look up local charities who will take that item. In alternative, you could join online swap groups and exchange it for something you really need or want.


Regifting No-No’s

Out of respect for the person that gave you an unwanted present, never regift handmade or personalized items (even if you share initials or a name with the person you want to regift it too). Also, out of respect for the receiver, never regift anything used, or out of its packaging. If you you do, don’t wrap it up, or pretend as if you bought it just for them, but ask first if they would like it.


Were these suggestions useful? What do you think about regifting? Should it be done or not? Let us know in a comment!

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