NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Many Americans were shopping up a storm last week, picking out the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones.
But the truth is your friends and loved ones may not love the gifts you've chosen. Or they might give you one you're not crazy about. Many people get gifts they don't want, don't need or don't like. Those people sometimes pass those gifts on to someone else.
Call it tacky or call it rude, but the real name for this practice is regifting. Here are 5 tips in case you're stuck with a recyclable gift this year:
1. No guilt necessary.
The etiquette and ethics experts we tracked down say the focus shouldn't really be on the gift itself, but rather what it represents.
According to Bruce Weinstein, President of Ethics at Work, "There is no reason to feel guilty for regifting. The purpose of giving a gift is to give pleasure, to bring joy to someone's life. And let's say you already own a copy of the 'Godfather' collection for example and you know that someone else would like to have it, what's the point in keeping it? It would be wasteful."
Once a gift is given, it's the recipient's to do with as they wish, whether it be returning it or regifting it. Another etiquette expert we spoke to said people are not required to keep something they don't need or like. Good etiquette doesn't require you to keep anything, just that you are grateful when you receive it.
While regifting is not necessarily wrong, you shouldn't give a gift to someone knowing they won't like it either.
2. Obligation to regift.
Not only is it okay to regift, some experts say there are times you are morally obligated to regift.
For example, if someone gives you an article of clothing or food that you don't want or don't need but that someone else could benefit from such as a homeless person or a shelter, it's not only a good thing to give it to the shelter, you ought to give it to the shelter. As a bonus, if you do give it to a charity, you may be eligible for a tax deduction.
3. Rules of regifting.
If you plan on regifting, do it with a gift you recently received, in other words, the sooner the better. Otherwise you may forget who gave it to you in the first place and could end up giving the gift back to the original giver.
Also, make sure you give the gift to someone who won't possibly run into the first person. It would be terribly embarrassing if your mother-in-law saw the one-of-a-kind, handmade sweater she gave you on another relative.
The gift should be in its original condition (i.e. original box, unused) and do your best to remove the evidence by taking off all the original gift tags!
4. Consider the recipient.
Naturally, if you're regifting, be casual. You don't want to give the recipient the impression you bought the item, spent a lot of time looking for it, picking it out and ordering it.
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If the guilt is too much for you, you may want to be honest with the person you are giving the gift to. You can tell them "I received this sweater, but am allergic to the fabric and I thought you might like it."
When you're giving the gift out of season -- for example, not during the holidays or not around one's birthday -- it is probably fair to tell the person you are regifting so you don't unfairly obligate them to give you a gift in return.
5. Accepting the regift.
A tip for the giftee: if you suspect you are being given a re-gift, never make mention of it.
If you receive something you're not thrilled with, consider donating it or passing it on to someone you really think would appreciate it or try selling it on eBay.
Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News. Willis also hosts CNNfn's Open House, weekdays from Noon to 12:30 p.m. (ET). E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.