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The Art of Regifting

Families are always looking for creative ways to spend less during the holiday season—no easy feat when there are so many gifts to buy. But there is a way to give everyone on your list something they love without spending a dime: regifting!

“Regifting has always been a hot topic in the etiquette community, and many people’s opinions on it have changed over the past few years,” says Daniel Post Senning, great-great-grandson of Emily Post and a co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition. “It’s no longer seen as an etiquette faux pas—as long as it’s done the right way.”

Here are some tips to make sure you do just that.

Go for perfection. It goes without saying that the item being regifted should be in mint condition, preferably in its original box or with the tags still on it, says Senning. “If that’s not possible, at least make sure the item looks new, with no scratches, stains, tears, etc.”

Think about the receiver. Regifting is an etiquette don’t when you’re simply giving away items to get them out of the house. “You should only regift an item when you think it is something the other person will enjoy or get use from,” says Senning.

Skip anything homemade, personalized or monogrammed. Those gifts usually have some special meaning to them, and passing them off to someone else can potentially offend not only the receiver, but the original person who gave it to you.

Stay outside the circle. Your sister gave you a lovely picture frame for your birthday, but you have no use for it. Should you give it to your brother for Christmas? Absolutely not, says Senning. “You need to make sure that the person you’re regifting to has no relationship with the person who originally gave you the item. You don’t want to offend anyone—especially the individual who took the time to buy something for you.”

Be honest if needed. What do you do if you regift an item and the person you gave it to asks for the receipt to return it? Tell the truth, says Senning. “Let them know that you got this wonderful gift from someone else and thought it would be perfect for them. The fact that you didn’t buy it yourself shouldn’t matter—when it comes to receiving gifts, it really is the thought that counts.”