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The Protocol and Etiquette of Regifting

December 29, 2009

What’s slightly used and green all over?   A regift, of course!
Some consider it deceptive and cheap. Regifting — giving someone a gift that was given to you by someone else — happens all the time and has become more common in these days of watching every dollar.  According to eBay’s annual survey on regifting, 83% of adults receive gifts each year that they have no use for, and 47% regift or resell the items.  Among adult gift recyclers, women (50%) are almost twice as likely to regift as men (30%), the eBay study found. That fact jives with the feminine bent of some of the gifts most likely to be recycled. While the study found that unwanted food and drink — items with universal appeal — are the most likely to be regifted, bath and beauty products come in second. Trinkets and collectibles come in third.

These days, online resale sites like eBay have made it much easier to turn a bad gift into a profit. But that’s a sale. It’s not regifting. To gift is to give, and unless you’re giving your proverbial label maker to a relative in Florida, you run the risk of being found out.

There was a MMI Regifting Survey conducted by Cynapsus.  There were a total of 1,049 respondents.  Results were weighted by demographics so they are representative of the US population as a whole.  Here are some of the results.

Reasons for regifting
– The majority of people (62%) say they regift because they think the item is something the recipient would really like; this is up from 53% who answered similarly in 2005.
– More than 4 in 10 people (42%) say that they regift to save money; this is up 27% since 2005 when only 33% claimed to regift for monetary reasons.
– 14% believe that regifting is becoming more accepted because it is a method of recycling. (a green concept)

Regifting is becoming more accepted
– More than half (60%) of Americans think regifting is becoming more accepted.
– One in four (25%) of people think regifting is becoming more acceptable because it is a way to save money on holiday expenses.  

Most regift recipients are not offended
– More than 42% regift recipients said that they don’t really care that they were given a regift. 
– Another 18% of regift recipients said they felt happy or amused to receive a regift. 
– Less than 10% of regift recipients said they felt cheated or angry to receive a regift.


    1. From a contemporary perspective it is OK to regift, but there are some steps you should take to ensure it is appreciated.
    2. Regift in different social circles. Make sure the person you give the gift to doesn’t know the person who originally gave you the gift.
    3. Remove the evidence. Remove the original card that might be inside the box.
    4. Know that you are risking hurting someone’s feelings so don’t tell them it’s regifted.
    5. Don’t regift items the original giver will notice you no longer have or are not using.
    6. Don’t regift personal, customized, handmade, or one-of-a-kind items.
    7. If you get busted regifting, offer a sincere apology and perhaps another gift.
    8. Never feel guilty about regifting once you’ve done it.”
    9. Don’t use a gift before regifting it. Make sure the gift is in its original box and is unopened. If the gift has a seal, it should be intact.
    10. Make sure the person who receives the gift will enjoy it and use it.
    11. Don’t regift stale items — scented candles that have lost their scent or old fruit cakes. Better to discard them.

Official Regifting Party Rules

Love the idea of recycling gifts?  Why not host a party rampant with regifting.  Your guests will bring and leave with one gift each.  The difference is that this party is paradise for regifters—no first time gifts are allowed.  Here’s how to play:

    1. Each guest brings one wrapped regift.
    2. Next, all guests draw a number. 
    3. The regifter with the lowest number chooses a wrapped regift and opens it for everyone to see.
    4. Here’s where things get interesting.  The person with the next lowest number can either take the opened regift or select a “new” wrapped regift.  If they choose a “new” regift, they must open it for all to see.
    5. This trend goes on for some time (depending on how many guests you have).  Each subsequent person is allowed to either unwrap a “new” regift or take any of the regifts already opened.
    6. If a regift is taken from someone, that person gets to immediately choose another “new” gift to open or they can get revenge by stealing someone else’s gift.
    7. When all the regifts have been opened, the person with the lowest number gets to trade with anyone or keep the regularly rejected regift they ended up with.  It’s only fair.

You will get much praise and admiration for hosting such a unique, fun, budget friendly party.  On the off chance that you don’t love what you end up with, you can always regift to charity.  Send us stories on your regifting party at polished

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