It's OK to regift a present — most people do — just follow these simple tips to avoid hurt feelings.

Share story

We have all done it. Or at least, thought about doing it.

Someone gives you a gift you don’t want, like or need, and you take that present and give it to someone else.

It’s called regifting, and it’s something we tend to think about and do more this time of year, says etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, based in Austin, Texas, who is also a best-selling author of “Access to Asia.”

She cites an American Express gift and traffic survey that says the average that most people regift is five times per year and 76 percent of Americans believe it is socially acceptable. It even has a national day — this year on Dec. 17.

She says people ask her a lot of questions about this topic, especially in December, because people exchange gifts more frequently.

“This is the time of year when you might think about regifting, and you can do it,” she says. “You just have to think about what you are regifting and who you are regifting to. If you do it graciously you can avoid hurt feelings.”

Tips on regifting

Schweitzer offers advice on how to regift effectively and successfully.

First, she says, think about the recipient and if he or she would actually like this thing you don’t want.

Second, can they use it? Don’t just regift to regift.

Will it fill an immediate need? Think of how soon they might use the gift.

Would they buy this item for themselves? Is this a thing they would spend their own money on.

Possible scenarios

Schweitzer gives this as an example: Someone buys you a cookbook, but you don’t cook. You have a really good friend who does, however, and is always looking for new recipes to try.

“It is definitely OK to give her or him the cookbook — just make sure you haven’t taken the cover off of it and it looks the way it did when it was given to you,” Schweitzer says. “Don’t take the plastic off of it or skim through it or let it sit around and gather dust.”

If you receive a box of chocolates, it is not OK to open it and try one and then regift the rest.

“The recipient will definitely know it’s a regift,” she says.

Don’t forget

When you regift a present, make sure to remove any tags with your name on it. That means checking the gift bag it came in because often there is a To-From tag on there. It is best to re-wrap the regift.

Look elsewhere

When regifting a present, make sure you are giving it to someone outside of the circle of the person who gave it to you. If a family member gives you something, regift it to a co-worker, for example. Or if a friend gives it to you, regift to another group of friends.

And if it is something that is handmade, be careful who you regift it to because the person who made it will definitely know it is what he or she made if they see it somewhere.

Donate it

It is not a bad idea to donate a gift you don’t want, Schweitzer says. Someone else might be really happy with that gift. Donating to charity will also make you feel good about where the gift is going, she says.

“You can also get a tax receipt for the item,” Schweitzer says. “And that way, no one you know will get hurt, and the charity will most likely find a recipient for that gift. Charities are prepared for receiving donations, especially at this time of the year.

Be honest

You can always say to the person you are regifting an item to, “Someone gave me this, but I already have one or it’s not the right size, but I thought you might really like it,” Schweitzer says. “I think you would enjoy this more. People will appreciate the honesty.”

When someone gives you a gift you are free to do what you want with that gift, Schweitzer says.

“I recommend always giving a gift receipt with a gift,” Schweitzer says. “That way, the person can take it back for a different size or different item. It makes things a lot easier and takes some of the stress out of receiving a gift you don’t want, like or need.”