The 5 Secrets of Successful Regifting

You're not cheap. You're recycling.
By Dan Gould, Networx

What's the deal with regifting? Is it a social faux pas? If you do it, does it mean you're a cheapskate?

These are highly relevant questions this time of year. You might be wondering if you can parlay something gathering dust in the back of your closet into a last minute gift -- or if you got a duplicate item this Christmas, should you hang onto it to act as a future present?

Here is what etiquette experts have to say:

Emily Post: The Emily Post Institute's stance is that regifting is alright, but totally depends on context. They suggest that one should only regift if the item is brand new and in its original packaging, and if it will not create awkwardness with the sender or recipient. They emphasize that the gift must be something that the recipient actually wants.

Jacqueline Whitmore: Ms. Whitmore, a business etiquette expert, gives the go-ahead for regifting, but reminds readers to "consider the taste" of the receiver and to destry all evidence that the item is being regifted. She wisely suggests that if a gift is expired or really not desirable, just chuck it; don't regift it.

Louise Fox: Protocol expert Louise Fox advises readers to be very cautious when regifting. She suggests that one should never regift something that is an heirloom or was handcrafted by the original giver. She also suggests that you regift only if the gift is something you truly would have bought the recipient.

In light of what the experts have to say, and in light of the Networx team's own thrifty-living prowess, here are our recommendations for regifting. Take them, leave them or pass them on. Pun intended.

1) Make sure it's something the recipient will like: Giving away a boring easy listening CD to your 12 year old niece, or a bottle of scented lotion to your uncle just doesn't make sense. Be sure that the regifting item in question will be appreciated and used by its recipient. You need to be as thoughtful with a regift as you would be with a new one. It isn't the gift that is important; it's that the recipient feels honored and appreciated when he or she receives it. If you're broke as a joke, you're better off giving homemade cookies or a small houseplant than a crummy gift item that's sitting in the back of your closet. Never, ever regift a fruitcake.

2) Use the original packaging: You should only regift things that look like they came straight from the store. Tags need to be intact and boxes should appear unopened (note our strategic use of italics).

3) Rewrap it: If you're speed-regifting a present you just got, take the time to cover it with fresh wrapping paper or place it in a new gift box or bag. Also make sure there is no evidence of it's original wrapping paper. Let's try to show a bit of effort here! Again, the goal is for the recipient to feel honored and respected. A knock out wrapping job can elevate a humble, small gift, while even a brand new iPod tossed on a table unwrapped says, "I didn't take the time to present this to you nicely."

4) No hurt feelings: Keep track of who gave you the present you are about to pass on. It's a holiday nightmare to end up giving back a gift to the person who gave it to you in the first place. Try to circulate regifts into different social circles if possible. This is where Facebalk stalking comes in handy. Check that the coworker you are about to regift the item to is not connected to the friend who gave it to you.

5) To admit or not: For the most part, it's best to keep quiet. If you're following tip #2, no one will be able to tell. In the case of special items with a history, it's OK to share the story. For instance, if you are giving a family heirloom as a gift, the story makes the gift special. However, if you're cleaning off your "junk I don't use" shelf for the company gift exchange, keep mum.