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Put gifts back to work with care

Everyone has a holiday "not-so-perfect" gift story: eight candles, 10 pairs of socks, four boxes of candy. And what about the gifts that just weren't right? You know the ones. Aunt Ginny's box set of soaps or Uncle Harry's $3 talking alarm clock.

A survey from, eBay's free classifieds Web site, found that 59 percent of consumers actually keep unwanted gifts they received during the holiday season. But instead of cramming those gifts into the attic or — worse! — tossing them in the trash, why not consider regifting throughout the year. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and showers are all great excuses to give a gift you may not have wanted but that someone else could use.

It's economical and good for the environment.

According to Consumer Reports, 36 percent of Americans plan on regifting this year. That's up from 31 percent last year.

You can call it tacky or rude, but regifting is allowed.

Just ask Maria Everding, St. Louis etiquette consultant of the Etiquette Institute. "Regifting is acceptable, but you have to be honest."

Let's say someone gives you a gardening gift, and you live in an apartment. Of course you don't need the gardening item, but Everding says, "You can give the gardening tool to someone else." Tell your giftee that you received the gift, you simply can't use it and you thought they would enjoy it.

There are a few gift items to stay away from when regifting: candles, soaps, computer software, scarves, box sets of bath accessories and, of course, fruitcake. "They're all dead giveaways," says Everding.

On the other hand, bottles of wine or champagne are good choices. Boxes of chocolates or nuts are also appropriate.

Everding says there is such a thing as a "bad" regifter. She has heard horror stories. Take, for example, the woman who received a gorgeous, silver serving tray. The bad news: The original gift tag was still on the package. Or how about the woman who received a rice cooker. As she lifted the lid, she spotted a few pieces of cooked rice in the bottom of the pot. Eww.

Mary Gerritsen, houseware buyer for, says, "In this economy, regifting is okay. Just be sure to use proper etiquette. First and foremost, keep track of who gave you the gift and keep it out of the same circle of the giver."

Gerritsen also suggests, "For all those unwanted gifts, consider auctioning them on sites such as eBay. Or give them to Goodwill for a tax-deductible writeoff.

Gerritsen says you can't go wrong regifting bestselling novels, in good condition. And never-been-opened CDs and movies have a broad appeal to giftees.

But don't get caught, or the gig is up.

Rules for regifting

1. Keep track of who gave you the gift.

2. Remove original gift tag and attach a new tag.

3. Rewrap the gift.

4. Never give a hand-me-down or used gift.

5. Don't give a partially used gift card.

6. Do not give a gift from a closed department store.

7. Don't regift an item that's too old.

8. Keep in mind who you're giving the regift to. Will they really want it?

Put gifts back to work with care 02/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 3:30am]
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