Gift-givers expect the holiday season to hit them right in the wallet—but many of us are particularly wary this year. As costs rise due to inflation, supply chain delays, and labor shortages, one way holiday gifters can save money is by regifting and upcycling pre-loved items that can be cherished by loved ones and friends.
Plus, regifting can spare buyers hours waiting in line—or clicking "refresh" in your online cart only to find that popular items have run out or will take months to arrive. Whether it's hanging on to a fashionable gift that doesn't fit you but you know will be just what your sister loves, or pairing high-end gift wrap with personalized embellishments that breathe new life into old finds, there are plenty of ways to make regifting glamorous.
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, maybe you came to the conclusion that it just wasn't for you. For a variety of reasons, burying that gift in the back of a closet forever 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. If a refund or store credit is possible, also consider that. A person who is thoughtful enough to leave a gift receipt really wanted to give something that the recipient would enjoy; it's nice not to waste their money or effort.
But if that's a no-go, proceed to Plan B: Regifting. Julianna Poplin of The Simplicity Habit says that too many people regift with guilt—when they should feel perfectly fine about it. "Don't feel bad for receiving a gift that was not the right fit for you," Poplin 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."
If there is no option for a refund or exchange, then keep the gift in a place where it can stay pristine. Stephanie Moram, who founded Good Girl Gone Green to offer busy women eco-friendly and cost-saving fixes, says it's best to have 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. 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 in the first place.
The feared faux pas, of course, is that you'll mistakenly regift to the original giver. But perhaps a more realistic concern is regifting to someone else who will show off the item to the original gifter by accident. So, if it's important that other friends or family don't catch wind of your regifting (which, again, it doesn't have to be!) share outside of that circle.
In your regifting closet or drawer, store the gift in its original packaging and affix a post-it 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 gifter. If you got a mug from a co-worker, offer it up to a favored teacher at your kids' school. If you got a gift basket from your neighbor, give it to your pilates instructor downtown. Try to keep geographic and social distance between the original gift-giver and its new owner.
Monica Monfre Scantlebury of Teach Wellthy Coaching recommends keeping an excel spreadsheet to save time and worry. A tech-based organizer is particularly useful for larger households that might have many discarded gifts from different people stored in the same place. Write down who gifted the item, to whom, and when.
"You might even want to write down the model, if it is a device," Monfre Scantlebury advises. "When you want to regift something, check the database to see who gifted it. 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 itself, not the packaging.
Some would say that it's worthwhile to buy fancy bags or bows to make a regift feel brand new. And sure, that can be a nice move—if you have the money to spend on these accessory items that are often quickly discarded. If not, consider upscaling your gift with a complimentary item that costs very little but speaks volumes. Instead of pricey gift wrap, try a handwritten note that explains why you appreciate this person all year round. Instead of ribbon that could quickly get trashed, add freshly baked cookies in a container that can be reused or recycled. And 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 to add but are warmly remembered.
But remember: Not every regift is a secret. There could be financial freedom in divulging.
The best gifts are given with the knowledge that this is something the other person will really enjoy. Depending on who you're regifting to, it is completely OK to tell them that the gift was originally given to you, but you thought that 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, then the gesture shows how much you care.
Plus, there's power in honestly. If your budget is tight this year, it is OK to be honest 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 on offer, loved ones are still sure to appreciate the fact that you didn't come empty-handed. That gift basket you received, full of foods you don't particularly enjoy? It will be more than welcome a family dinner where dozens of cousins will dig right in.
Subscription box strategist Jessica Principe adds that "a great way to easily regift or to source inexpensive gifts is through your own subscriptions. 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."
In both cases, you could pass these gifts off as items you purchased with your own money, but there's value in financial honesty.
No matter what you give, give it some thought. Think about the person who will inherit the item and try to make it something they will truly enjoy, rather than something that will also end up in their regifting closet.