7 Ways to Regift Sincerely and Without Getting Caught

A recycled gift, selected with great care and given with a generous heart, will be received with a smile -- so long as only you know it's recycled.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore

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In the old days, it was considered tacky , or even downright rude, to "regift" something that someone gave you. However, times have changed. We're all trying to lower our shopping bills, save time and cut down on the holiday stress. That's why regifting is becoming more acceptable...as long as you do it properly.

But before you give your colleague, client or co-worker that pencil sharpener or scented candle you've had since last year, make sure you follow these regifting guidelines.

1. Remove the evidence.

Several years ago I hosted a holiday party and my girlfriend gave me a crystal paperweight as a hostess gift. When I opened the card inside the bag, I discovered that the gift was originally given to her by one of her students. She had forgotten to remove the card and put a new card inside. If you're going to regift, be sure to dig deep inside the package and remove all evidence that the gift was given to you, including cards and notes.

Related: Great Holiday Gifts for Colleagues, Bosses, Office Secret Santas and More

2. Keep all the seals intact

If you suspect that you won't like or use a gift, don't bother opening it. You don't want to break the seals. Besides, it might be difficult to make a gift look brand new if you take it out the box and inspect it. And for heaven's sake, don't use it and then put it back in the box and regift it. Certain items like makeup, lotions or anything that is consumable in some form, should not be opened, sampled and then given to someone else. If you're not especially fond of that bath gel, discard it or ask a friend if they would like to have it.

Related: 44 Top Gifts for Entrepreneurs

3. Don't regift in the same social circles.

If a co-worker gives you a gift that you don't want or can't use, don't give it to another co-worker. Give it to a cousin, a friend, or someone outside of work who doesn't know the person who gave you the gift.

Related: 8 Simple Tips for Giving the Best Business Holiday Gifts

4. Don't lie if you get busted.

It's rare, but someone may be bold enough to confront you if they suspect that you gave them a pre-owned gift. In that case, honesty is the best policy if you get caught. Be upfront about it and say something like, "I thought the gift would go nicely in your office and you would enjoy using it."

Related: The Best Gifts for Busy Entrepreneurs

5. Pay attention to the expiration date.

Items including popcorn, coffee beans and mixed nuts don't stay fresh forever. Be sure to check the label for an expiration date if you give a consumable product like a food gift basket. Giving someone an expired gift will leave the worst taste in their mouth.

Related: The 10 Weirdest Office Holiday Gifts

6. Only regift it if it's a good gift.

Never give a gift just to be giving something. Regifting should include a little forethought and consideration. In other words, tailor the gift to the recipient's personality. If your co-worker likes to entertain, go ahead and give him those purple wineglasses. He will probably use and appreciate them. The person who loves to read will most likely enjoy that miniature book light. Unless that coffee cup is truly unique, you're better off dumping or donating it. Most people have more coffee cups than they already want or need anyway.

Related: Give the Gifts That Give Year-Round

7. Keep the gift if you don't remember who gave it to you.

If you hold on to a gift long enough without using, you're likely to forget who gave it to you. To avoid potential embarrassment, keep all your unwanted gifts on a "regifting" shelf or closet with a sticky note on each reminding you when you got it and from whom. This will eliminate any chance of giving it back to the same person who gave it to you in the first place.

A recycled gift selected with great care and given with a generous heart will be received with a smile that brings you joy.

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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