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These are the dos and don'ts of regifting, because you don't want to look like a Grinch this holiday season

Hello Giggles logo Hello Giggles 4 days ago Elizabeth Entenman
a person holding a birthday cake © Getty Images

One of the most fun parts of the holiday season is exchanging gifts with friends and family. But from time to time, you may receive something that just isn’t your taste. When that happens, you have a few options. You can stash the gift away in your closet and forget about it, try to return it for store credit, or regift it. But what, exactly, is proper regifting etiquette?

We spoke with Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol, to find out once and for all if regifting is acceptable—and if it is, how to go about it.

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“In my opinion, regifting is absolutely acceptable,” Swann told HelloGiggles. “Not only do I encourage it, but I feel like it can help us be less wasteful and more thoughtful.”

If you’re going to regift this holiday season, there are some regifting guidelines you should follow to ensure you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

“Regifting is acceptable only if doing so is well thought out,” Swann continued. When regifting, try this: “Take some time to look at what you have and then give some thought as to who is in your circles might benefit from the gift or actually enjoy the gift.”

Do: Only regift brand new items.

“When you do regift, be sure that the gift is brand new and in its original packaging. It should never have been worn, used, tried on, or sampled.”

Don’t: Regift within the same circle.

“If you receive a gift from your co-worker, then do not regift it among your business colleagues. Instead, take it to family, and vice-versa. If you receive a gift from family, don’t regift within the family. Do it with your friends or co-workers. Just make sure you mix it up.”

Do: Put the gift in new gift wrapping.

“If it was given in a bag, put it in a new bag. If it was wrapped, use new wrapping paper. And, of course, make sure you take away any signs of the fact that someone else gave it to you.”

Don’t: Regift something you got for free.

“Do not regift swag. It should be something that was actually purchased.”

And perhaps the most important rule of all: “Don’t regift something that was handmade for you by someone else.”

You might be surprised to know that sometimes, it is acceptable to tell a friend that the present you’re giving them is a regift.

“It mostly depends on the relationship that you have with the recipient. If you have a very close relationship and you know you’re giving something that they would absolutely adore, it is acceptable. I have a friend who loves Lucille Ball. Let’s say somebody gave me something with Lucille Ball on it. I would tell my very dear friend, ‘My sister gave this to me, but I know you adore Lucy, so I thought I would give this to you instead.’ You’re giving the history of how it ended up in their hands. They can see that you put great thought into it and that you’re paying attention to their interests and hobbies.”

Finally, what should you do if you receive a gift you don’t like? Don’t tell the gifter about your plans to regift it to someone else. There’s no need for them to know.

“If someone gives you a gift and you don’t like it, be gracious, say thank you, and leave it at that.”

As you can see, knowing whether to regift or not to regift depends on the situation and your relationship with the gifter (and recipient). If you do decide to regift this holiday season, make sure you follow Swann’s regifting etiquette rules so nobody’s feelings get hurt.

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