Is Regifting Rude?

 Regifters shouldn't be shunned -- as long as they follow the rules.

Richie Frieman,
December 19, 2011
Episode #182

The audio edition of this episode is a joint podcast with Grammar Girl. Read what she had to say about using “gifting” as a verb to mean “giving.” 

It’s the holidays, which means I’m receiving loads of questions about the etiquette of regifting. While speaking with my fellow Quick and Dirty Tips host, Grammar Girl, we agreed that regifting during the holidays is a topic of conversation not only for grammar but also for manners. So, when you open up that half eaten can of popcorn or receive something with another person’s name embossed on it, you can be sure that you’re the victim of regifting. However, I am here to say that not all regifting is bad. In fact, it can be a very good way to celebrate the holidays. >

So, with that, don’t throw away that six-pack of beer you just unwrapped with only 4 cans left – crack it open and enjoy my tips for regifting:

The Seinfeld Connection

Grammar Girl says that the word “gifting” was mostly limited to tax conversations until a 1995 episode of Seinfeld called "The Label Maker." In this episode, Elaine referred to a minor character as a "regifter." And now, regifting is the reigning world champion topic of holiday etiquette! After that Seinfeld episode, it seems people started using “gift” as a verb more. Check out Grammar Girl’s episode on the correctness of using “gift” as a verb. 

I think regifting is the biggest holiday manners issue because of the way people regift, not the actual regifting itself.  

Here’s an instance of bad regifting: Let’s say I get 5 boxes of candy as gifts before Christmas. Is it OK for me to give one of those unopened boxes to someone else? I’m never going to eat them all. Would it make me a horribly rude regifter?

Absolutely not! 

In fact, this is a great example of proper regifting. Now, if you opened the box, ate a couple of candies, and then tried to pass it off as new, that would be extremely rude…and really bizarre. 

However, you have to remember that when you regift something, it doesn’t cost you anything. So I like to go the extra mile and add a little something extra to make it an even better present, like a really nice card, or even another small box of a complementing candy.

Correct Regifting Etiquette

When it comes to regifting, put yourself in the place of the person to whom you are giving the present. The success or failure of your gift will be judged by the “eyebrow test.” 

The eyebrow test is the height to which the receiver will raise their eyebrows when they open up your three-pack of wine glasses, with only 2 left in there. Clearly, this is not how the package was originally sold and such obvious regifting is highly unmannerly. But let’s say you are given a set of gorgeous glasses, but you don’t necessarily need all of them. To properly regift the glasses, remove them from the box and individually wrap them into two separate gifts. That way, you pass the eyebrow test with flying colors. 

This is a great example of how regifting both can help you out and give someone else a present they will truly enjoy. It’s all in the presentation, people! 

Do you have a great story about regifting? Post all the details in Comments below.  As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Check out my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page, follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips. 

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Gift image courtesy of Shutterstock