Regifting was a guilty secret until a 1995 episode of "Seinfeld" brought this fairly common practice out in the open. As frequently happened with Seinfeld oddities, regifting became a popular practice.
In fact, the great-grandaughter-in-law of Manners Goddess Emily Post approves of regifting. "It's okay as long as people's feelings won't be hurt," Peggy Post recently told USA Today. "The gift must be brand new and it can't be something the original giver took great pains to select."
So with the blessing of Miss Manners' successor, we offer the following 12 regifting rules.
1. Don't be obvious: Nothing is worse than a regift that sticks out like your bosses combover. If it looks and smells like a regift, the recipient will know it's a blatant regift.
2. Keep it to yourself: While Ms. Post thinks "the best approach is to be upfront," would you'd appreciate knowing you're receiving a regift? As with knowledge of a friend's cheating spouse, it's best to keep regifting to yourself.
3. Don't regift to the giver: If you rarely regift, you'll likely remember the source of a gift. But if you keep a closet full of possible regifts, keep track of who gave you the gift to avoid nasty scenes.
4. Change the wrapping: Open the dang thing before regifting! There might be a personal message or gift card inside that would make your regift obvious. Besides, raggedy old wrappings are a dead giveaway the recipient is getting a regift.
5. Don't regift the following: Socks, books that bore, CDs from unknown artists, soap and candles (they don't age well), obscure software, scarves (we have enough scarves already!), tacky jewelry, and outdated electronics that make frequent garage-sale appearances (think Presto Cookers).
6. Don't regift teachers: Your son's 4th-grade teacher likely receives closets-full of unwanted regifts each year. She or he deserves a better gift than a dusty candle.
7. New items only: Don't regift something you used or wore for awhile and got bored with or decided you didn't like. It's tacky and the recipient might recognize the item.
8. Select carefully: Give something the recipient will truly love. Not everyone will appreciate Aunt Stella's hand-knitted cardigan (except maybe the Old Navy mannequins who seem enchanted by cardigans).
9. Handmade gifts: Handmade gifts are extremely recognizable and probably not suited to another person's taste. You're pretty much stuck with the aforementioned cardigan, signed art, homemade jams and macrame plant hangers.
10. Clean regifts: Those wine glasses have collected a lot of dust sitting unused at the back of your cupboard. Have the decency to give them a good polish and pack them carefully in a gift box.
11. Don't regift swag: Trade-show freebies don't make good gifts for anyone. This includes coffee mugs, key chains, T-shirts and anything with a company logo.
12. Give with good intentions: The sentiment behind a regift should be the same as the thought behind any new gift. Will the recipient smile when they open your regift?
13. Regift Christmas spirits: This includes wine, champagne, fine liquors people actually drink (no apricot schnapps) and sparkling cider (not really booze but good for non-drinkers).
14. Consider reselling: Rather than regift an unwanted but useful present, why not sell it on eBay or CraigsList and use the proceeds to buy other gifts?
15. Regifts create humorous traditions: My father and mother used to present each other the same regift on alternate Valentine's Days. It made for good laughs and saved time and money, both in short supply in a family with six kids. Office white elephants are another great place for re-re-regifted presents. Everyone will know the regift is in the present pile but is wrapped to disguise.