How to Regift Like a Pro to Save Money—and Time—This Holiday Season

Use these 4 easy tips to save valuable time and money by regifting this holiday season.

The holiday season hits gift-givers right in the wallet, but one way to cushion the blow is to regift and upcycle items you've received that will be cherished by loved ones and friends. And it's not just about money: Regifting saves buyers hours waiting in line or searching online and makes the holidays more eco-friendly.

There are plenty of ways to make regifting glamorous—whether it's hanging on to a fashionable gift that doesn't fit you but is just what your sister loves, or pairing eco-friendly gift wrap with personalized embellishments that breathe new life into old finds.

Ahead, gifting and etiquette pros share a few easy tips to make save time and money this holiday season by simply giving gifts you already have.

Keep a stash of potential regiftables

After accepting a gift with gratitude, you determine that maybe that gift just wasn't for you, yet exiling that gift to the back of a closet isn't the best idea.

First, check for a gift receipt. If a simple exchange for size or color would do the trick, make the effort to honor the givers' intention. Someone thoughtful enough to leave a gift receipt really wanted to give something you'd enjoy, and you don't want to waste their money or effort. If a refund or store credit is possible, consider that, too.

If returning is a no-go, proceed to Plan B: regifting. Too many people regift with guilt—when they should feel perfectly fine about it, according to Julianna Poplin, a professional declutterer and blogger at The Simplicity Habit. "Don't feel bad for receiving a gift that was not the right fit for you," she says. "People don't give you things for you to feel bad about them. Let go of any guilt and find joy in being able to gift it to someone who will make better use of it."

Once you identify a candidate for regifting, store it where it'll stay pristine. Stephanie Moram, who founded Good Girl Gone Green, recommends establishing a gifting closet or gifting drawer in your home. "When the need arises to gift something to someone in your life, you may have the perfect item already in giftable condition waiting to be rehomed," she says. "Not only does this save time and money, but this is also a sustainable way of ensuring items that are not wanted or useful to one person do not end up in a landfill."

Note who gave you the gift

The feared faux pas, of course, is that you'll mistakenly regift to the original giver or, perhaps more realistically, to someone who inadvertently shows off the item to the original giver. If it's important that other friends or family don't catch wind of your regifting (which, again, it doesn't have to be!), regift outside that circle.

To reinforce your stealthy regifting, store the gift in its original packaging and affix a sticky note with the original giver's name. Before regifting, remove all identifying information and consider whether the intended recipient might eventually flaunt this item around anyone who is an acquaintance of the original giver. For example: If you got a mug from a coworker, offer it up to a favored teacher at your kids' school. Give that gift basket from your neighbor to your Pilates instructor downtown. Essentially, keep geographic and social distance between the original giver and its new owner.

For large households with many discarded gifts from different people stored in the same place, a tech-based organizer can help save time and worry. Blogger Monica Monfre recommends keeping an excel spreadsheet noting who gifted the item, who it was for, and when. "You might even want to write down the model if it is a device," she adds.

"When you want to regift something, check the database to see who gifted it," Monfre continues. "This helps avoid giving it back to the original gifter as well as deciding if they will see the 'new' gift. Knowing the make/model and date is important, as the age of an item can give away that it might be a regift."

Focus on upgrading the gift, not the packaging

Instead of buying fancy bags or bows to make a regift feel new, consider upscaling your gift with a complementary item that costs very little but speaks volumes. For example, instead of pricey gift wrap, jot a handwritten note that expresses why you appreciate your giftee all year round. Instead of a ribbon that promptly gets trashed, add freshly baked cookies in a reusable or recyclable container. If the regift is a tech item, include any online warranty, customer care, or digital subscription that came with the device. These thoughtful touches take just minutes but are warmly remembered.

Regifting doesn't have to be a secret

For some giftees, it's OK to divulge their gift was originally for you, but you thought they'd appreciate or use it more. If it's something the receiver has been pining over for a long time but couldn't afford or access, regifting shows how much you care.

Plus, there's power in honesty. If your budget is tight this year, it's OK to be straightforward with close friends and family about your journey. Setting the expectation that gifts will be modest can help avoid awkward conversations or incongruent exchanges. And if a regift is offered, loved ones are sure to appreciate that you didn't come empty-handed. That gift basket you received full of food you don't particularly like will be more than welcome at a family dinner where dozens of cousins will dig right in.

"A great way to easily regift or to source inexpensive gifts is through your own subscriptions," adds subscription box strategist Jessica Principe. "Many homes receive at least one subscription box each month, and the items contained inside often make the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones. No need to feel any guilt when gifting a new item from a subscription box that you didn't need or love. There is so much joy in sharing."

No matter what you give, ensure it's something the person on the receiving end will truly enjoy, rather than something that will end up in their regifting closet.

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