The right way to regift
Done right, the practice is frugal, eco-friendly and a great help in de-cluttering. Avoid these pitfalls, though.
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 ShopAtHome.com.
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 Regiftable.com 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 GiftCardGranny.com 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.
Readers: Do you regift? Why or why not?
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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.
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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.
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