The 4 Rules of Regifting: Etiquette Guru Explains When It's OK

The Label Maker - regifting Seinfeld
The Label Maker - regifting Seinfeld

The last couple of years have seen a proliferation of made-up shopping holidays, with established standbys like Black Friday and Cyber Monday being joined by the likes of Small Business Saturday and Gift Card Exchange Day. And we can add another to that list: National Regifting Day.

This "celebration" is the brainchild of, which was started by Money Management International in 2006 to save people from coming out of the holiday season (and into the new year) in debt. According to the site, Regifting Day falls on the third Thursday of December (this year, Dec. 20) -- the day when the most office holiday parties are held (according to MMI's own "unscientific research"). The idea, we suppose, is that regifting is more socially acceptable when the recipient is a coworker rather than a close friend or family member.

But does regifting really pass the etiquette smell test? No less an authority than "Seinfeld" -- the same show that codified the taboo against double-dipping -- condemned the practice in the episode "The Label Maker." And despite MMI's research showing that only 10% of people would feel cheated or angry to receive a regift, we were unsure whether it's truly an acceptable practice during the holidays.

To find out, we spoke to Jodi R.R. Smith of etiquette consultancy Mannersmith. She gave us four basic rules of regifting.

1. The item needs to be new and unopened. "If I get a bottle of perfume, take a sniff, and decide I don't like it, it's no longer eligible for regifting." says Smith.
2. Don't regift just because you didn't like it. "Only give someone a regift if it's something you would have gone to the store and got for the person anyway."
3. The gift should be unwrapped and rewrapped for the new recipient. "I don't want them to find a card addressed to me from my cousin."
4. Avoid a "Seinfeld" scenario. Smith says to avoid situations where worlds could collide -- if the original gifter and the new recipient roll in the same social circles, it's best to avoid the potential headache.

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Those last two points might make it seem as though regifting is something that should be executed stealthily, but that's not always the case.

"There are times that I do tell people, 'Someone gave this to me, and when I got it, I immediately thought of you,'" says Smith. "But that's for everyday gifts. If I'm giving it for a birthday or holiday, then I'll keep the fact that it's a regift on the QT."

So if you are planning to celebrate National Regifting Day this holiday season, it's probably best to keep quiet about it.

Do you regift? Ever been on the receiving end of a regift? Share your stories in the comments below or send them to

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Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.