Effective Holiday Re-Gifting Strategies


Effective Holiday Re-Gifting Strategies

That awful Christmas sweater. A gift card to a store that’s two hours away. The winter shawl that won’t quite fit over your head. And the mother of all bad Christmas gifts – a decoratively packaged fruit cake. All of these gifts, and many comparable ones, are destined for a future in your hall closet if you don’t plan carefully. The solution: Re-gifting. Now that Christmas is over, it’s only right to give you a game plan for your unfortunately undesirable presents.

What Is Re-gifting?

If you don’t know what re-gifting is (what planet are you on, by the way?), I’ll go ahead and provide a brief description of the act itself, as well as its benefits. Basically, re-gifting is the act of giving away something that has been given to you by someone else, either because you didn’t like the said item or because you really, truly thought someone else would like it more.

Typical re-gifting situations usually involve gifts from grandmas, aunts, and cousins, but it’s important to remember that no family member is immune. Furthermore, re-gifting isn’t only for bad Christmas gifts; it’s also for gifts that don’t fit- either on your body or where you’re at in your life.

For example, a few years ago I got a diary for Christmas. Sweet thought and everything, but I’m 35 years old. The only things I hand write these days are grocery lists and bills. But you know what? That same diary made an excellent birthday gift for my niece who likes to brainstorm names for ponies and write her name in bubble letters. And what was the harm in that little transaction? Nothing, if you ask me.

Strategies for Effective Re-gifting

Obviously, re-gifting has gotten a bad name over time. Some people think it’s tacky to give away something you’ve been given, and others think it’s downright cheap. To me, it’s none of those things, but only if you do it right. Here’s how:

Don’t re-gift to the person who gave it to you

If grandma took the time to pick out a ceramic mushroom wind chime just for you, don’t blow it by re-gifting it back to her! Give it to someone else in the family. Or better yet, give it to someone on the other side of your family that wasn’t there when you opened it. They’ll never know.

Be discreet

Of course, they’ll know if you tell them about it! This should go without saying, but the best re-gifting strategies are on the down-low. Don’t loudly proclaim that the magenta carpet scarf you just gave your mother-in-law was from your grandma on your father’s side. No one will know if you keep your mouth shut.

Give people time to forget

One of the best ways to re-gift on the sly is to give it a year between each re-gift. For example, if you get something you don’t want this year, give it to someone else next year – not for someone’s birthday two months later. Give people time to forget and they’ll probably never notice your cunning strategy.

Stay organized

Of course, none of these tips mean anything if you don’t stay organized. One of the easiest ways to stay on top of things is to keep a gift closet or box and immaculate records of the items contained. Make sure to write down who gave you what – and when- if you want to keep records that will bolster your re-gifting efforts, not sabotage them.

People will tell you that re-gifting is wrong, but you don’t have to listen. There are just too many bad gifts out there for you to navigate through life without receiving at least a few. Why should you be forced to keep things you don’t want?

The answer: You shouldn’t. And just because you will never use that Justin Timberlake bobblehead doesn’t mean that a family member or friend wouldn’t enjoy it.


Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of frugality site Club Thrifty, and travel site Travel Blue Book.  Holly is also a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.