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Regift without fear
Following these 5 tips can save you some embarrassment this holiday season.
December 16, 2005: 1:00 PM EST
By Gerri Willis, contributing columnist
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Xbox 360s and iPods are in high demand, but for the patient (and wealthy), the goods can be yours.(Full story.)

NEW YORK ( - We may not admit it, but we may be guilty of doing it. We're talking about regifting, the gift that just keeps on giving.

Regifting may be more art than science, and today's 5 Tips is going to tell you how you can regift without fear.

1. Know the stats

Ever wonder exactly how widespread the practice of regifting is? A recent survey indicates it's pretty popular.

According to the credit counseling agency Money Management International, about 4 in 10 people regift.

Women between the ages of 35 and 54 regift the most. Women in general regift more than men (41 percent versus 33 percent). Those who have a household income of $50,000 or more have regifted more than those with lower household incomes (42 percent versus 33 percent).

2. Have your heart in the right place

If you're going to regift, make sure you do it for the right reasons. The gift should be something that you think the other person would like, or something that you just can't use, says Thomas Farley, the author of "Modern Manners."

If you give away a gift just to get rid of some of your closet clutter, it's going seem tacky. And if the present is really that bad, chances are, your friends and family won't appreciate receiving it either.

3. Keep it out of the social circles

The secret to regifting is that no one is the wiser. You shouldn't regift within families or groups of friends. If you received a great present from your childhood friend who lives a few states away, it's probably safe to assume you can regift without worry that they'll see the gift at another friend's home.

The more personalized the present, the more likely that you'll get caught regifting. So make sure it's a present that you'll be able to find in your local stores. You don't want to regift that one-of a-kind miniature tea-pot from Cambodia you got from your aunt last year.

Also, make sure you know who gave you what. If you have a number of presents, you may want to keep a record of your items.

4. What you can regift

Okay, so you may not want to regift your monogrammed duffel bag, but there are just some things that beg to be regifted, like alcohol. Bottles of wine are a perfect example of a gift that keeps on giving.

"I don't think anyone would flinch if they received a bottle of wine," says Farley. "It could even be something that has been lying around in your house for a while." Wine is also pretty nondescript, so unless it was a very rare bottle, chances are you're pretty safe.

If you're allergic to perfume or body lotion, regifting these items will be pretty safe. Of course, make sure that it hasn't expired and is in good condition.

Do a once-over and make sure there are no name tags or markings in the wrapping. Do not regift any sentimental gifts. If your blind grandmother knitted you six-fingered gloves, hold onto them. It's been personalized.

Don't regift items that have a shelf life like soaps or potpourri. And one last thing, if you do regift, make sure the manufacturer is still in operation. You don't want to be giving someone perfume that you found at a garage sale a decade ago.

The Emily Post Institute has a good rule of thumb: "If you're in doubt, don't do it."

5. Throw a white elephant party

If you really just want to get rid of your junk, make regifting the purpose of a party. Farley tipped us off about white elephant parties.

At white elephant parties, guests bring things from their home that they want to get rid of. They wrap it up and there's a regift exchange where everyone picks from the pile.

This way, the regifting is all out in the open and you've made some space in your closet. And you never know, what may be your junk today may be some one else's treasure tomorrow.


For all the latest top 5 Tips columns, click here.

Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News and the host for Open House. E-mail comments to  Top of page

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