Looking to save money on last-minute holiday shopping? The key to making holiday shopping happen on the cheap might actually be right before your eyes – in the form of gifts you already have! Every year, everyone gets at least one or two gifts we just flat-out don’t want. Lest we be rude or unappreciative, we graciously stuff these unwanted items into our closets, never to be seen again. By “re-gifting” such items to friends or relatives, you can both get them out of your house and brighten someone’s holiday.
Here are some basic rules for effective and considerate re-gifting:
Consider the Recipient
Above all, consider who it is that you’re re-gifting something to. The fact that you really want to unload the Twilight books your grandmother thought you’d like last year is not sufficient reason for giving them to your male cousin. Nor will your little sister be very interested in your uncle’s old transistor radio. For re-gifting to be effective and considerate, you must genuinely believe the recipient will enjoy what you give them.
For best results, get every re-giftable item you have into one place. Then, pen and paper in hand, start writing down the best possible “fit” for each item. Before long, it should be quite clear which friends or relatives would actually like the things you have to re-gift. Some items wont appeal to anyone. Don’t force square pegs into round holes – just bite the bullet and throw these things away (or donate them.)
Don’t Disclose It
It’s up to you, but in most cases, it’s probably best not to tell someone you’re re-gifting to them. Think about it: if someone prefaces their gift to you with “this toaster’s been in my attic for three years now, I just couldn’t stand to look at it anymore”, will that change your view of the gift? Of course it will! Even if you really wanted a toaster, you now know that the only motivation behind this gift was getting rid of it.
When it comes to re-gifting, honesty is not the best policy. Instead, if you truly believe the recipient wants what you are giving them, just let them enjoy it as-is. Why spoil the good vibes?
Remember the Original Source
The last thing you want to do is unknowingly re-gift something to the person who gave it to you. If possible, you also want to avoid re-gifting it to someone while the person who gave it to you is in the room. It sounds silly, but this is actually more common than you might think. If your entire family meets up to swap gifts at Christmas, the original giver and your new recipient could very easily be in the same room.
Clearly, this hurts the original giver’s feelings and is painfully awkward for you. Avoid this nightmare scenario by making sure the original giver of any re-gifted items are not present at time of re-gifting. Send the items in the mail, or arrange to meet with your new recipient on a separate occasion.
Don’t Pass Off Hand-Me-Downs as “Vintage”
Nothing screams “I gave you this to get it out of my house” than blatant hand-me-downs. Old clothing, tattered blankets or beat-up sporting equipment fall squarely within this category, and all but the most gracious recipients will scoff at these kinds of gifts. And no, you can’t compensate for how undeniably dingy these gifts are by calling them “vintage.”
Again, put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. If someone were giving this to you, would you want it? If the answer is no, you can safely assume that no one else wants it either. The best re-gifted items are new and unwrapped (or at least not obviously dated.)
Avoid Blatant Give-Away Items
Every family has at least one relative that gives comically cheap gifts to everyone. Corporate giveaways are a common offering from this person: t-shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs and keychains from the last trade show or meet-and-greet event they attended. Don’t be that person. Remember: these items were given to you for free for a reason!
Moreover, consider what these types of gifts say about you. Yes, it’s true that gift-giving is optional, so no one should necessarily expect high-priced items from you. However, it’s also true that “it’s the thought that counts” – and the only “thought” behind gifts like these is that you put no thought into giving them.
Change the Wrapping
If nothing else, make absolutely certain that you replace the wrapping paper on re-gifted items. If you’ve covered your tracks in the ways discussed above, this is less important, but it’s a worthwhile precaution no less. Yellowed or torn wrapping paper is a blatant says to your recipient that this gift was sitting in your attic before you handed it to them.
On the other hand, if the gift is still in good condition, a fresh wrap job makes it almost impossible to know that it’s being re-gifted. This, of course, is exactly what you’re shooting for – so don’t cut corners on appearances!