11 May
When is it OK to Regift?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Two years ago, one of my best friends got me a really great ornamental music box. It’s not an heirloom-type thing, just a plastic box with metal veneer and a beautiful ballerina and tune. We don’t see each other much now. I’ve made some new friends, and one of my closest friends is having a birthday soon. She’s having a hard time with her family and she loves the fine arts. Would it be okay for me to give her the music box as a present? I think she’d love it, but would it be in better taste to find a new gift?


About To Take the Regifting Plunge


Dear Potential Regifter,

This is perfect timing. Because I just moved and when I unpacked I found a half bottle of expired cough medicine, a chipped vase and some strawberry hair gel. I was just going to toss this stuff but now I’m thinking that I can throw it in a gift bag and bring it to the next birthday party my daughter is invited to.

Or perhaps not.

Regifting is tricky. Like the time I was at a bridal shower and I watched the bride open up a beautiful Nambé bowl and read the enclosed card.   And then another card fell out. Turns out this was a regift and the original card had been mistakenly left in the box. The bride was embarrassed. The regifter was horrified. All the guests shifted awkwardly in their seats.   Regifting is clearly not for amateurs.

There are times when regifting is appropriate. If you have been given a gift that has literally been sitting in the original box, completely untouched, and suits the person perfectly, then go ahead and regift. It’s an eco-friendly, economical solution. Just make sure there are no extra cards enclosed.

But if a present is really more “gently used” than “brand new,” invest in a new gift. I don’t know the condition of this music box but if it’s been sitting on your mantel, then go buy a new one for your friend. Or you could still give her yours with a nice note that says,”This was given to me by a close friend and has brought me a lot of joy. I wanted to pass it along to you during this difficult time.”

Or give her a bottle of Grey Goose vodka because that’s the gift that never disappoints.

Good luck with the giving.


Kelcey, TMH

13 Responses to “When is it OK to Regift?”


Comment by redgirl.

When the other card fell out…So awkward–am cringing as we speak


Comment by GrandeMocha.

Just give it to her because you think she’d love it. Not as a present. I have been giving kid stuff away as my son outgrows it. I don’t need it & hopefully I can save them some $.

Kelcey, TMH Reply:

This is a great suggestion. Love it.


Comment by hokgardner.

I think giving it to her with the note is the perfect way to go.


Comment by MommyTime.

If you think she would really love it, then I think giving it to her along with a note like Kelcey suggests (which implies you are passing along good karma with the gift, and doesn’t pretend this is brand new, but makes a virtue out of the regifting process) is good. I would add something new and personal too, though. Like, put into it a chunky, funky art fair bracelet that she would love, or a big silver cocktail ring, or something else she can wear. Then tuck the card with the piece of jewelry “I chose this for you to wear because it looks so you, and I’m wrapping it in this box which a dear friend once gave me, and I thought suited you and marks our friendship…”)

Kelcey, TMH Reply:

Perfect Idea!


Comment by Karen at French Skinny.

You can pass me some of that strawberry hair gel! I can never get enough bees buzzing around me head.


Comment by Domesticated Gal.

My husband, aka Cheap Bastard, has actually created regifting rules. Which is probably best, as he thinks the best gift to give him is one which he can regift. Or cash. He’s not overly picky on the amount.

1. Cannot be regiven to the original gifter. This is actually more complicated than it seems, when you keep something in the “regift box” for more than a few months. Post-it notes with the giver’s name, while great in theory are useless when they fall off after 3 weeks in the box.

2. Regifts cannot be regifted in front of the original gifter. The exception to this is when you are 30 years old, and your mother still insists on leaving you gifts “from Santa.” It is then perfectly fine to regift these next year in front of her – because they are from SANTA, and SANTA is not there!

3. Must not be previously used. Yard-Sale finds are somehow excluded from this rule, as long as you can’t actually tell that they aren’ new. You know, aside from LACKING ORIGINAL PACKAGING…

This? Is what passes for the golden rule in our household…


Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

I needed this to put some fear into me about regifting. It’s become like a gambling addiction for me – how many parties can I attend without having to spend actual money.

Or maybe I’ve just learned that everyone should stop including cards…


Comment by kmdguerra.

My husband and I received a lovely heart tchotchke from his grandmother for our wedding. Less than a year later on my birthday I got the same damn thing from her again! We decided to regift it at a wedding to a couple we didn’t really know very well who just LOVED it apparently. And yes, I made sure there wasn’t a card or anything in it from his grandma. The regifting story of Kelcey’s just made me cringe!


Comment by stef.

I am thinking that half a bottle of medicine might be good. Especially if it is children’s motrin…because when you need that stuff you need it NOW and I don’t care if it has been opened and tampered with. Just give me the drugs. So I say if you have some gently used or not so gently used children’s motrin, and you are giving me a gift, bring it!
As for the music box, get a new one. Your other friend may ask you about it and then what…..gulp.

mom, again Reply:

Sometimes, the gift giver has put a lot of misguided thought into the gift you have no use for, so you should consider that before re-gifting. But more than likely, they haven’t put 2 seconds of thought into it since you accepted the gift/they received the thank you note. It’s not too likely anyone is going to ask about it years after the fact.

You can always give a variation on the note to the new giftee: “Oh, it was so important to me at the time, but later, when my life was different, I could see that it would mean so much to (new friend) and so I passed it on.” Or, ‘she admired it and had always wanted one just like it and I know you would have been happy to see how over joyed she was when I gave it to her!’


Comment by minipeds.

I know I’m late to the party with this but re-gifting can work well! I got a lovely Celtic-style necklace from a friend. I realized it looked WAY too big on me. It was pretty but not really wearable. Flash forward to my cousin visiting me during her birthday week and me grasping at how to shop for her present with her staying with me! I thought of the necklace and remembered that my cousin has a much bigger rack than I have. Voila! It looks great between her tatas and I don’t feel guilty about the necklace gathering dust in a jewelry box.

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