5 Rules for Re-gifting Without Looking Like a Cheapskate

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To re-gift, or not to re-gift? It can be really tempting shave a few bucks off your holiday shopping budget by recycling presents you’ve received — and a substantial majority of Americans now think it’s okay to re-gift. In a recent CreditDonkey.com survey, 83% of respondents said they wouldn’t mind receiving a gift originally intended for the person giving it to them.

There’s still a stigma attached to re-gifting, though. Only about 41% of women and 28% of men admitted to doing it, probably because the practice is an etiquette minefield.

Since savings and frugality bloggers are pros at repurposing and reinventing, we hit up a few to get their advice on being a gracious re-gifter. Follow these rules and the recipient will never know that their present had a past.

(MORE: The 6 Kinds of Presents You Should Never Give)

1. Keep some separation between parties. The biggest no-no is recycling the gift within the same social circle or, worse yet, back to the original giver. A gift from your cousin can be a re-gift for a co-worker, for instance, but not your sister. “Your relatives know what you got last year, and won’t appreciate receiving the same gift next year,” point out Kerry Taylor of Squawkfox.com. If you can’t remember who gave you the gift, don’t chance it.

2. Destroy the evidence. Many a re-gifter has been outed when the original gift tag or receipt gave them away. “Make sure to first take a thorough look at the item to make sure the book is not dedicated to you and that the original gift card isn’t tucked in the box,” say Katy Wolk-Stanley, self-described The Non-Consumer Advocate.

3. Do a quality check. Make sure the gift is still in good condition with the original packaging intact. “Dust it off before giving,” says Natalie McNeal, who blogs at TheFrugalista.com. If it smells funny, is discolored, or has otherwise suffered from neglect, either clean it up or don’t give it.

4. Present it nicely. “Just because the gift didn’t cost you anything doesn’t mean you should skimp on presentation. Wrap the gift as you would a newly purchased item,” says Kendal Perez, blogger at HassleFreeSavings.com.

(MORE: Tech Buyers’ Guide 2012)

5. Never, ever re-gift these. Some gifts just shouldn’t be recycled, the experts warn. Here are 5 such categories:

  • Ancient history: An old model or edition of an item is a dead giveaway.
  • Personalized or handmade: If it was made just for you, you’re stuck with it.
  • Junk: If you hate it, it should be a donation — or garbage — not a re-gift.
  • Expired edibles: Check dates on snacks, beverages, and candy.
  • Anything used: In a word, it’s tacky.