spending

5 Best Gifts to Re-gift

Giving away presents you either don't want or don't need is a smart way to save. Remember, it's the thought that counts.

There’s a good chance you received at least one gift this holiday season that you either didn’t care for or already had. Of course, you could exchange the item if it came from a retailer with a generous return policy. Better yet, you could hang on to it so you’ll have a gift on hand to give when the occasion arises. That will not only save you money but also the time you would otherwise need to spend shopping for a present.

Re-gifting the gifts you don’t want to keep for yourself is both acceptable and smart, says Patrice Washington, author of Real Money Answers for Every Woman, as long as you follow a few simple rules. Don’t think of it as being tacky. Instead, consider it thrifty and environmentally friendly, since the gift will end up in someone's hands rather than a landfill.

For starters, only re-gift items that you’ve never used, Washington says. Anything with a broken seal or missing tag should be kept at home. If you re-gift something that’s been sitting around for a while, wipe it clean of any dust and use new gift wrap or a new gift bag, she says. Finally, don't broadcast the fact that you are re-gifting a gift. All the recipient needs to know is that you've given a gift that you think he or she will appreciate and enjoy. That also mean being careful never to re-gift an item to someone who knows the person who originally gave you the gift, Washington says.

To further boost your chances of making re-gifting a win-win for you and the recipient, here are five items that are especially well-suited to be re-gifted. You might not have wanted these things, but others might very well put them to good use.

Books are good gifts to re-gift if you haven’t read them and marked them up with notes, says RetailMeNot.com spokesperson Kristen Nelson. You might not want the book because you already have a copy or just don’t have time to read it, but someone else might enjoy it. Just make sure it’s not a self-help book that can be misconstrued as a hint that the recipient needs improvement.

Candles and other home goods are usually well-received, as long as they're not holiday-themed and you are confident they’ll match the recipient’s taste, Nelson says.

Chocolates that you won’t eat because you’ve resolved to avoid sweets in the New Year can make a great Valentine’s Day gift. Just be sure they aren’t wrapped in green and red or shaped like Christmas trees.

Gift cards are great items to re-gift throughout the year, say for someone's birthday, Nelson says. Just be careful that the card does not have an expiration date or a date at which it starts losing value (often due to a monthly maintenance or inactivity fee). If the gift card has holiday branding, consider asking the retailer if you can exchange the card for a more generic one with the same value, she says.

Wine, champagne and other spirits make great host or hostess gifts for friends who invite you to dinner, Nelson says. Be sure the recipient drinks alcohol, however. If not, or if you're not sure, opt to give a different gift.

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