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My friend, Mandy Wallace, gets personal about personal finance on her blog over at Stay at Home Money Manager, and today she is gracing us with her presence with a guest post all about "The Art of Re-Gifting."  This is an area I was really curious about when Mandy brought it up.  What is the right and wrong way to re-gift?  Is it acceptable to re-gift?  Mandy dove right in and gave us the skinny...


I am re-gifter.  I appreciate the thought and expense that goes into giving a gift to someone you love, and I am very happy to pass on an item that doesn't quite work for me.  I'm kind of a minimalist by nature, so if I am given something that would work better for someone else, I say give it away.  My primary motivation for re-gifting is connecting things with people who will love and use them - but as a side bonus, re-gifting helps reduce your ecological footprint and can save you cash.

Here are some basic guidelines for regifting:

First, always genuinely thank the original giver
.  Getting a present for another person takes time, thought, and (often) money.  I am a staunch believer in handwritten thank you notes.  If you receive something that you know you're likely to give to another, you can graciously thank the person who gave the item to you for their thoughtfulness and expressing their love.  Even if you get something that you hate, thank the giver for their effort.  Don't let your pen get carried away - NEVER write down your plans to re-gift the item.

Good idea: Dear Aunt Lillie, Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift and helping make my birthday so special!
  Bad idea: Dear Aunt Lillie, Thank you so much for the great birthday present. I know it will make my friend Tara's day - and you'll save me the expense of buying a new present for her! Hope things are well in Florida!

What to and not to re-give

Definitely OK:  New, unused items that are things you already have

Household items (especially from people who will never be in your home)
toys/books/items for infants, 
personal items like jewelry or clothes that you won't wear.  
I've regifted wedding presents that I couldn't return and didn't fit our style/home.  I've regifted baby shower presents to reduce the overall number of things we have in our house.  I've regifted books I'll never read and jewelry I know I won't wear.

Maybe think twice: 
Sentimental gifts
, very unique gifts.

In general, I feel that we need to let go of things and appreciate people and spending time with them.  That's hard to do when great grandma lives nine hours away.  It doesn't mean that you have to keep the sweater she gave you for Christmas - but sometimes you might consider holding onto an item for a few months.  If the sweater is at the bottom of the drawer, still unused next winter, pass it on and think lovely thoughts about your great grandma.  Write her a letter or give her a call while you're thinking about her.

On the unique side - avoid regifting to people who run in the same social circles (or even the same cities). 

Don't go there: 
 Handmade gifts
, heirlooms
, personalized items, 
things you know the giver will ask about or look for
, things your child will remember

My oldest child brings up the most random details at the most inopportune time.  When he's a little older, I feel like we might be able to pass on gifts that he won't use to other friends - but at this point, I'm avoiding awkward situations by not re-gifting his presents.  

Keep it organized

I have a storage drawer in my closet dedicated to gifts we receive but can pass on to other friends in the future.  I look through that drawer before heading to the store and am delighted whenever I have a good match - a gift that needs a home and a person who would love it.  This drawer was especially full when my boys were born (items we already had or I knew we wouldn't use).

A cautionary tale:

If you receive something, put a post it note on it with the original giver - and remove the note before you pass it on!  We have a lovely set of grilling items that I'd love to pass on to a family that will use them... but I can't remember who gave it to us in the first place (hopefully, he/she isn't reading this post).  It was a thoughtful gift - my husband used to grill a lot - but has since fallen out of the habit.  Maybe we'll light those fires again, until then I'd like to put the gift to work in a new home, rather than collecting dust in mine.  But, since I can't remember who gave them to us (maybe a friend? maybe a brother-in-law? maybe an aunt?), I have been hesitant to give it to someone else.

What if the original giver asks about the gift?  

I'm not a fan of lying to people.  But you don't have to tell the whole truth.  If Aunt Colleen asks if we've filled the photo album she gave us, I let her know that we haven't yet but that we really appreciated the gift - and then move on to another subject.  I don't let her know that I gave the unopened album to my friends who are shutter-bugs. 

I got caught!

A friend notices a necklace she gave you on your cousin on a Facebook picture.  Oops. If she confronts you, own up to it.  "Rachel, I really appreciated your generosity.  I tried wearing the necklace, but never got it to look quite right.  I knew that cousin Tara would absolutely love it, so I passed it on to her.  I think she wears it all the time - I'm so glad the necklace is being worn, it is such a pretty piece."  And move on.

Don't give it if you don't like it

There are times that I won't wrap up an item and give it to someone because I really don't care for the item or it goes against my values.  Giving gifts is, as Deborah says, from the heart.  Knowing the person will enjoy the gift is crucial - but a gift also reflects your taste and your understanding of the recipient's likes and needs.  I won't re-gift an item that I wouldn't pick out at a store for someone.  Instead, I pass along unwanted gifts (unwrapped):  "Hey, I was cleaning out a closet and found this.  I haven't used it, but thought you might like it.  If you don't, please feel free to give it to someone else.  No pressure - I just want to make sure it gets loved."

Wow!  I had never really thought through re-gifting like that!  I am loving all of those great tips!

You can check out Mandy's "31 Days to a Home Budget" with super helpful tips on keeping your New Year's resolution to do better with money at her blog, Stay at Home Money Manager.

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