11 reasons why regifting is great

Picture of me and Kate Garaway on the television programme Good Morning Britain

Even bought a new cardigan to appear on the telly

This week, I discussed regifting with Kate Garraway on Good Morning Britain. As you do.

It all started because I put my pennyworth into this blog post by Helen, over at The Complaining Cow, all about what to do with unwanted Christmas presents. Check out the post for some great ideas including regifting, selling, swapping, upcycling, renting and donating.

Then Good Morning Britain asked if I’d come and debate “Is it wrong to regift?” with Grant Harrold, former butler to Princes Charles, William and Harry.

(Short answer: no)

But according to Grant, you shouldn’t pass on presents to someone else or ‘heaven forbid’ put them on eBay. Instead, you should keep every gift, even the ones you don’t like, and display them when the donor comes round.

You can check out the debate here:

Why regifting is great

Now I reckon regifting gets a bad press. Some people think regifting is rude, because you’re rejecting a present someone has given you. Thoughtless, because you’re not choosing something specifically for a person when passing on a present. Mean, because you haven’t forked out on a new gift.

But personally, I think regifting is great, and here are my top 11 reasons why:

1. Save space

We don’t all live in royal palaces, with the space to keep every single gift we’ve ever been given. Combine years of presents for a family of four, and we’d disappear under a mountain of generosity if we kept it all. Plus for most of us mere mortals, giving away that Boots three-for-two toiletry set from Aunt Gladys is unlikely to cause a major diplomatic incident.

2. Clear the clutter

Living in a unclutted home is calmer and way easier to clean. (One day I might even manage it myself). Removing stuff you don’t want and won’t use is a great start.

3. Wage war on waste

Surely it’s better to pass on gifts to someone who will benefit, than leave them to gather dust, before chucking them in the bin? The idea that unwanted presents might go into landfill, rather than being used and enjoyed, offends my frugal soul. Just because you might not use, for example, bubble bath or body lotion because of sensitive skin, doesn’t mean someone else won’t like them.

4. Double the love

Actually, I reckon keeping unwanted presents is selfish, when someone else might love them. If you sell or exchange gifts, you could also get something that would benefit the whole family. Spread the joy!

5. Get rid of the guilt

It’s a shame, but there are some presents, given with the best of intentions, that I just don’t like. If unwanted presents give you a stab of guilt when you spot them stashed at the back of the cupboard – don’t keep them! Most people give presents to bring pleasure, not make you feel bad, so far better to pass on, sell or swap unwanted gifts.

Picture of a pile of gift-wrapped presents

No need to go mad on gift giving

6. Give better presents

If I’m given something I don’t like, but know someone else will love, regifting can mean they end up with a more generous present than if I’d bought it myself. I’d hope to take the same care with regifting as I would when buying new presents. This means making sure any gift suits the recipient – not shoving a packet of American tan tights at a teenager.

Personally, I don’t measure how much people love me by how much money they spend on presents. It worries me when people spend money they can’t afford on extravagant gifts. Small and thoughtful is wonderful – and regifting doesn’t mean a lack of thought. Same with second hand presents. If the recipient then gets something they like and wouldn’t get otherwise, go for it.

7. Avoid duplicates

Duplicates are a prime candidate for regifting. My son was given two versions of Junior Monopoly one Christmas. It was a great present, because we love playing it, but no one needs two of the same game. I wrapped up one for his friend’s birthday, so someone else could enjoy it too. I don’t see any point in keeping for example clothes that are the wrong size, or toys too young for your children, if you can return, sell or regift them. Top tip: dive in and rescue anything you might want to pass on, so the packaging stays in great condition.

8. Stash some cash

Some see selling unwanted presents as particularly ungrateful. But I’m not suggesting cashing in every present you’re given, or ripping beloved toys from your offspring’s hands. If it’s something you don’t like, won’t use, and the donor doesn’t want back – why not?

If I was more organised, I would raise extra cash by selling unwanted stuff. Massive sites like eBay can get the best prices, but you have to allow for selling fees, postage and packaging. (More on online auctions in my post for the Money Advice Service).

You can list for free on local Facebook selling pages or Gumtree, and cut out postage costs if people collect from your door. However, do be tactful. Avoid posting on Facebook straight after Christmas, if your Facebook friends might spot their present for sale.

If you have a lot of items, try taking part in a car boot sale or yard sale (here’s my post with tips for a successful yard sale).

9. Help in hard times

Keeping unwanted presents can be luxury when times are tight. December and January are financially tough for many families. I’ve blogged before about the surge in food bank referrals during December. People who get paid early before Christmas then wait longer than normal for their January pay packet, just as Christmas credit card bills hit. If selling, returning or regifting unwanted presents means you can afford to put food on the table, or chip away at debt, it’s got to be worth it.

10. Be sensitive about people’s feelings

Some people see passing on unwanted presents as the height of bad manners, for not liking a present someone was kind enough to give you. But we’re not all mind readers, and we don’t always know what people have already. It’s impossible to give the right present every time. If I’m given something I won’t use, I can still be grateful for the kind thought, thank the donor, and never let them know I didn’t like it. But to me, insisting unwanted presents are used and displayed seems rather controlling. As a gift giver, I’d hate it if people kept presents they didn’t like.

Occasionally, I’ve blessed people for including a gift receipt, so I could return duplicate items – but I wouldn’t demand a receipt it if wasn’t included. When people give us sentimental objects, like passing on baby clothes or equipment, I would always ask if they want them back before passing them on in turn. If there’s any risk you might forget who gave you something, and give it straight back to them, make sure you keep a list or stick a post it on the packaging with the donor’s name.

11. Support good causes

If you baulk at selling, returning or regifting unwanted presents, how about supporting good causes?

For example:

  • Drop off stuff at your local charity shop
  • Donate as prizes for raffles or tombolas run by your school, church, cubs or other group
  • Give food and toiletries to a local food bank

Even sticklers for politeness can condone passing on presents when it’s all for charidee.


Now over to you. Where do you stand on unwanted presents? Do you keep everything you’re given? Where do you draw the line: OK to donate, but not to regift or sell? Do say in the comments, I’d love to know your views!

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Pinterest size picture of a pile of wrapped presents

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  1. 30th December 2017 / 11:15 am

    This is a good post. Instead of keeping gifts that you may not use for a long time at time, it is actually better to give it to another person that might need it. You are not just creating space, you are sowing a seed that you will reap in the future.

    • Faith
      30th December 2017 / 11:43 am

      Like the idea of sowing a seed you’ll reap in the future – passing on gifts can definitely bring pleasure to others!

  2. 30th December 2017 / 12:08 pm

    We have been given a basket with five different preserves in it and some biscuits. While we think we will like the chutneys, we have already got in the larder two new jars of lemon curd and don’t need a third, so with the biscuits the lemon curd has, this morning, gone to the food bank for someone else to enjoy. We’ve not parted with the whole of the gift, but just some of it.
    Margaret P

    • Faith
      30th December 2017 / 1:03 pm

      Great plan. Keep what you will use, pass on the parts you won’t. Would be such a shame to waste any of a generous present, if you couldn’t eat it in time. Good cause in donating to a food bank too.

  3. 30th December 2017 / 6:35 pm

    You could look at it another way……….. the person giving you the gift hasn’t bothered to find something you would like so why bother to keep it!
    I’m so mean and cynical sometimes I frighten myself!

    • 30th December 2017 / 11:11 pm

      Oooh harsh, but you did make me laugh! I’m sure I’ve had several gifts that were very thoughtful, but just didn’t quite hit the mark. Sometimes easiest to ask people exactly what they want!

  4. 30th December 2017 / 6:38 pm

    Oh. Forgot to say congrats and well done for your TV appearance, wish you’d have told us before I would have watched

    • 30th December 2017 / 11:13 pm

      Thanks Sue, it all happened in a rush – phone call at lunchtime, then on telly first thing the next morning.

  5. ilona
    30th December 2017 / 6:56 pm

    Today I gave away a grapefruit, four satsumas, and a lemon, to my friend who will use them. I can’t be bothered to peel them, and I don’t like bitter fruit with pips in. Yes, it’s good to give things away.

    • 30th December 2017 / 11:14 pm

      Do agree Ilona, so good to give things away if you’re not going to use them yourself.

  6. 31st December 2017 / 7:11 pm

    I think it’s a really good idea to re-gift. I’m at the point in my life where I really do have everything that I need so if I can make someone’s day by giving them something that I already have then that’s great.

    • 16th January 2018 / 2:34 pm

      So many people I know already have too much stuff. Nowadays, unless people have asked for specific things, I try to give either stuff that can be consumed or things to do like tickets to a play.

  7. Lucy
    2nd January 2018 / 10:20 am

    I’v never re-gifted before but this year i have definitely made the decision to keep the items and re-gift when the right person comes along, or take them to a food bank/charity shop. I think it’s a great idea

    • 16th January 2018 / 2:35 pm

      Great use of stuff you don’t need, giving it to a food bank or charity shop. Can also be good for raffle prizes, if there’s a local cause you support.

  8. 4th January 2018 / 4:26 pm

    Well done on the TV appearance! We got quite a big food hamper that there’s no way we would use, so we regifted some bits and bobs from it. The alternative is that they’d end up in the bin, and that just seems ridiculous.

    • 16th January 2018 / 2:35 pm

      Absolutely agree, regifting has got to be better than putting stuff in the bin!

  9. 16th January 2018 / 1:48 pm

    I think regifting is a taboo subject for all the reasons you mentioned at the beginning of your post. However, I 100% agree that regifting something you’ll never use is the best way to de clutter and offer someone else a thoughtful gift. I’ve regifted and no one has ever noticed or complained about it.

    • 16th January 2018 / 2:36 pm

      Thanks for commenting Gina! If I get a present I like, I genuinely wouldn’t care if it had been regifted. Better it goes to someone who will use and enjoy it.

  10. Lewis Wise
    10th June 2021 / 10:58 pm

    I have watched your debate several times. I do think Grant is right to some extent, but I do think he is being a bit dramatic about keeping every gift you are given. Let’s be honest, if we all kept every gift we were ever given, our houses would be cluttered to the brim.

    I, personally, think if the gift is a very personal and sentimental one, then you should definitely keep it, and have it out on display when the giver comes round, as Grant said. However, as you said Faith, if it’s a generic gift that’s not got any personal meaning, then I think it’s fine to regift it as the gift giver is not going to nose around your house looking for it.

    Although in Grant’s view regifting is not acceptable, other etiquette experts disagree and say it is okay, but that you should follow certain rules when you are regifting. My personal view is regifting is fine, as long as you follow the regifting etiquette.

  11. Patti Franklin
    18th December 2021 / 5:32 pm

    Thank you from across the pond for your article! Love the idea if regifting for all the reasons you listed!

  12. Lewis Wise
    16th April 2022 / 5:27 pm

    Personally, I think Grant Harrold’s views on the manners and etiquette of gifts and regifting are correct from the point of view of being in the royal family. However, the royal family rules are very different to the general public. I don’t think he wasn’t taking into account is the fact that most of the general public, like us, don’t live in palaces and nor do we have the storage space to keep all the things we’re given, unlike the royal family.

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