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The right way to regift

Done right, the practice is frugal, eco-friendly and a great help in de-cluttering. Avoid these pitfalls, though.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 29, 2012 12:45PM

Logo: Gift (RubberBall, SuperStock)Have you ever received a regifted present? If you answered "no," I'd like to ask a follow-up question: How can you be sure?

Savvy regifters fly under the radar. They avoid giving presents that are obviously used, in poor condition or personalized to someone else.

If the practice makes you twitchy, perhaps you should move to Tennessee. That state was tops on the "no regifting" list in a new survey from

The cash-back shopping site surveyed 828 consumers about re-gifting. While 63% of all respondents believed that regift = thrift, some 70% of Volunteer State residents said "ho, ho, NO!" to the practice.

My mom was from Tennessee, but I must respectfully disagree with those folks: Done right, regifting is frugal, eco-friendly and a great help in de-cluttering. Each regift means a boost to your giving budget, one less item in your personal space, and a new home for an existing item versus a newly manufactured one (it keeps one more thing out of the landfill, too).

Incidentally, the top two pro-regifting states were Washington (93%) and Utah (91%).

Some basic tips

A site called suggests that wine, jewelry and new household items are all good candidates. It counsels against giving handmade or one-of-a-kind items, or anything you've owned for a long time: "If you have to dust it off, it's not regiftable."

The article also frowns on giving partially used gift cards. Tip: If you have one with an odd balance like $51.12, use it to buy a new card with a cleaner-sounding sum. And if you don't live near that particular retailer? Sell the card on the secondary market (the aggregator site will help you find the best rate), then use the cash to buy a present.


An untapped gift card can be just the right present, though. My former landlord gave me a $15 Starbucks card when I moved earlier this year. I'm giving it to someone on my holiday list: She'll get to treat herself to chai tea, and I get to stretch my giving budget.

Be careful not to regift to the person who gave it to you in the first place. In "How to regift unwanted presents" on the Moolanomy personal finance site, blogger A. Black admits to have done just that: "I was stunned and embarrassed, even though my aunt thought it was quite funny."

Since it can be hard to keep track, try this: When you receive something you don't want, slap on a Post-It note indicating the present's provenance. Otherwise you might give the musical snow globe or yarn-and-seashells wall hanging back to someone with no sense of humor.

Do you regift? Why or why not?

More on MSN Money:

Nov 30, 2012 1:45PM
Regifting is definitely a possibility if you have a gift that is TRULY suitable for the recipient, has never been used and it not simply a case of emptying your cupboard.   The benefits of not running off to the store for another item, clearing your space etc is just icing on the cake - I want to make sure the gift would honestly please the recipient.
Dec 3, 2012 3:51PM
Yes, but not in the re-wrap-it-and-present-it-with-a-straight-face way that seems to be discussed here.   I will tell a person that I got something that was just not right for me and I am looking to find it an appreciative home.  For example, if I got an embroidered sweater with a big 10-point deer on it and I know a woman who is an avid member of her local Sportsman's Club.  So rather than throwing it in a random clothing drive box, I do get to revel in making somebody happy with something I didn't actually purchase.
Nov 29, 2012 3:12PM
I've had something regifted to me that I gave them. They obviously didn't remember getting it from me. I was mortified and a bit put out. Long story short, she hasn't received a gift from me since then. I'm just sayin'...
Nov 30, 2012 8:11PM
May I gently and respectfully take you to task on the Eco-Friendly argument for re-gifting?  While I don't disagree with the frugal aspect, and I suppose giving gifts from your closet could save a trip to the store, putting the environment as a main reason for re-gifting takes away from the higher ways we can save the earth.

Here is what I mean; if you are truly environmentally conscious, walk or bike to work (and save money too!), pee in your toilet 6 times before you flush it.  Take navy showers where you turn the water on, only for wetting down and rinsing.  Don't use your clothes dryer, but put a line up in your backyard, bathroom or both.  Use the microwave to heat your leftovers instead of turning on the oven.

Deciding that your carbon footprint can be impacted (and your self-esteem suitably boosted) by regifting the Pez dispenser you got in the office Secret Santa, can serve to distract from serious efforts to be a good environmental citizen.

The side benefit of keeping your eco life in perspective is that, similar to your frugal life, you spend your time on really important things, rather than those which have a poor real return.

Thanks again for a great article!

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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.