Just as I thought I had finished wrapping all the Christmas gifts and mailing those being sent, I realized I had forgotten a dear friend. Of course, I’m over budget by now, but we do have a storage box of unused gifts we’ve received over the years that are really nice. It contains gifts we don’t need, or are not our style. Is regifting good etiquette when it’s recycling?
–Audrey, Dover, MA
Yes, Audrey, it is OK to regift under the following conditions.
The gift has not been used, it is in its original packaging (such as a CD), and most importantly — it is an appropriate gift for the recipient.
Why not recycle gifts that you have not used, and will never use? Such as a book you know you won’t read, because you only read on your Nook. But you know the person would appreciate a Nigella Lawson cookbook. The binding hasn’t been cracked — meaning it feels as though the pages have not been turned. No page corners have been folded down to mark a recipe. There is no personal inscription on the title page that says, “Happy Birthday, Audrey, Much love, Charles.” It’s a collectors item.
Be cautious about regifting food. If that holiday jam has an expiration date, the giftee will notice it, too. Chocolate doesn’t age well and turns grayish.
Stay away from re-gifting lingerie and clothing that goes to body image, such as a belt, unless you know their exact size. Too small or too big the giftee is stuck with it. Will there be a sting to the regifted present that is not the right size and there is no receipt to use to exchange it?
It goes without saying that you would be sure there were no stains on the gift. Last January a viewer wrote wanting to know how to thank a friend for a sweater he received that had traces of dried pea soup dribbling down the front, and it was the wrong size. Be sure to inspect everything before you wrap it for stains, smudges, tears, discoloration, and price. Even if you wore that scarf or tie only once, check for spots.
Verify gift cards you recycle as Christmas present to make sure it is valid and has value.
The trick to regifting with style is to use creative packaging. Polka dot potato stamp wrapping paper tied up with natural raffia ribbon. Recycling the wrapping materials, too? Gently iron them out first.
When adding to your regifting storage box, be sure to post it with a notation as to whom it was originally from to avoid hurt feelings next Christmas.
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Accepting A Compliment