Date added:

Top tips around present recycling

If you’re not familiar with re-gifting, it’s the practice of taking an unwanted present you’ve been given, sprucing it up with some fresh wrapping paper and passing it on to someone else come the next birthday or Christmas.

Posted in: Family
Woman taking a ball of padding out of a brown box.

When you designate a present for this kind of ‘recycling’, it doesn’t have to be because you don’t like what you’ve been given. Sometimes, when you receive a gift, you’ve already got one just like it, you don’t need it, or it doesn’t fit.

You might have heard horror stories of present re-gifting gone wrong – where your mother in law unwittingly gives you the cheese board you carefully picked out for her last year, and so on. But in a recent survey by American Express, 76% of people think that re-gifting is acceptable and 42% of people admitted to doing it last year [1].

It’s a delicate social manoeuvre with the potential to cause embarrassment – or even offense if done wrong.

Here are some simple tips to help avoid any unfortunate mishaps.

Things to avoid:

  • Giving mundane re-gifts – are you recycling the present because you think they’ll really like it and appreciate it? Or are you doing it because you’ve got it to hand and you’re caught short? Follow one simple rule – don’t re-gift something that you wouldn’t gift to someone otherwise. Think they’ll love it? Fine.
  • Recycling within the same groups of family or friends – it will massively increase your likelihood of getting caught – you never know how and where your present will be opened – and you’d be amazed what people will notice.
  • Re-gifting handmade or unique items – if you’ve been given something personalised, or handmade, it has a sentimental value. Someone has put a great deal of effort and thought into it. (You’re also more likely to get caught if it’s a one-off item.)


  • Make sure it’s still in mint condition – you shouldn’t try to pass off used items as new. Some things like toiletries and perfumes can go a bit funny if left in the back of the cupboard for a couple of years, so check before you wrap.
  • Remember where it came from – If you’re the forgetful type, make sure you make a note of who gave it to you in the first place, along with any witnesses to you opening the present. Some people attach a sticky note to the present with the name of the gifter.
  • Re-wrap – Make sure you spruce up the gift with a bit of TLC. Fresh wrapping paper and a bit of ribbon should do the trick. Carefully check the box to see if it’s obvious that it’s been opened, or has Sellotape marks on it.
  • Remove any identifiers – make sure you’ve done a thorough sweep to remove any notes, stickers, or bits of packaging that will identify who it originally came from. Check and double check the inside cover of books, for instance.

If you’re worried about making a faux-pas and accidentally re-gifting to the original giver, you can always play it safe and take it to your local charity shop.

Another option is to sell an unwanted gift. eBay, Gumtree and Amazon are some good options but be careful of posting it on Facebook or other social media platforms to avoid hurting the feelings of the person that gave it to you.

All in all, re-gifting can be a great way of giving something a good home and saving a bit of money. Just make sure it’s done in the right spirit.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.

Sources:1 http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2014/last-minute-shoppers-spread-holiday-cheer.aspx