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The Regifting Bible: Budget Friendly Christmas Gift Ideas

woman coming up with christmas regifting ideas after she opens a gift she hates

Picture this. You’re at another gift exchange and unwrapping the box you’ve chosen in front of a large circle of people. You really hope the box is from someone with who comes up with dope Christmas gift ideas, but disappointment sets in when the box’s contents are revealed. It’s another thing you’ll never use.

This is the feeling I used to get every time I sat through a gift exchange. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I only need to buy one $20 gift instead of spending 10x that to get something for everyone. The problem with the proliferation of exchanges is that you usually end up getting something you don’t want because the people participating have different tastes, and let’s be honest, it’s hard to come up with good Christmas gift ideas that are gender-neutral and universally pleasing for only $20. 

Gift exchanges aren’t the only way we end up accumulating a bunch of useless junk over the holidays though. Maybe your mother-in-law gets you something for the house every year that you would never ever display, or your grandma always buys you jewelry that’s not your style. The common thread in all of these scenarios is you ending up with a gift that you feel bad throwing away but will never use.

Getting all of these useless gifts over the years was super frustrating until I realized I could save them and regift them later! This was one of the best Christmas gift ideas I’ve ever had because regifting your unwanted holiday presents has numerous benefits. It saves you money on future gifts, it’s environmentally friendly, and it saves you shopping time. Not to mention that you can put together the most adorable gifts for any exchange because a $20 limit doesn’t matter when you don’t have to buy anything!

To help you save money and actually enjoy getting gifts you don’t want this holiday season, I’m breaking down my regifting process so you can use your unwanted items to put together the perfect gift for any occasion and avoid making regifting faux pas.

How to Regift Like a Pro

Build Your Inventory

Step one is to start accumulating items to regift. The most lucrative time for this will be around the holidays, but don’t limit yourself to collecting only at the end of the year! We get gifts on lots of other occasions like our birthdays and at showers too. These are all great opportunities to add items to your gift arsenal. 

Some of your most fruitful regifting inventory hauls will come from gift baskets. A lot of these have a combination of items you like and others that you don’t. Don’t be afraid to open those suckers up and take what you want out of them and save the rest! Let’s say you get a coffee mug with a cute saying on it and some coffee beans to go along with it. You don’t need another coffee mug, but you want to keep the beans. Open up the package, take the beans, and add the mug to your regifting inventory.

Some great items to pull from gift baskets are

  • Barware 
  • Candles you don’t like the scent of
  • Lotions and soaps you won’t use
  • Liquor/wine you won’t drink
  • Servingware like cutting boards, coasters, spreaders
  • Knick knacks and household items you won’t display
  • Jewelry that isn’t your style
  • Kitchen gadgets

Some of the gifts you’ll get will be downright terrible though. I mean, what are you supposed to do with a shake weight or a burrito blanket? Save these wacky gifts too! You’ll probably find yourself in a gift exchange with some goofballs at some point, and these make hilarious gifts. (Pro tip: Elaborately wrap your gag gifts so they look beautiful and expensive. People will get super excited to unwrap the nicest looking box, and then be extra surprised when they find a gag gift inside. The look on their face is always priceless! Just like your gift. See what I did there.)

For ease, I also suggest keeping all of your inventory in the same place. If you keep your unwanted items where they “belong”, like kitchen items in the kitchen or toiletries in the bathroom, you’ll forget what goodies you have. That will leave you holding on to your unwanted items for longer than necessary, and make it harder to mix and match them to put together amazing gift baskets! This brings me to the second step in regifting.

Make Christmas Gift Baskets

Gift baskets are my favorite way to regift because they’re super easy and make great presents for any gift exchange. 

To make your basket, pull together several items from your inventory. Remember that mug you didn’t want? Pair that with some tea and other kitchen items to bring to an ugly sweater party. Headed to a bachelorette party? Mix it with some toiletries and a candle to create a marriage relaxation spa package. 

The first time I put together a fully regifted Christmas gift basket was a couple of years ago. I took several items from my inventory, which included a drink shaker set, candles I didn’t like the smell of, a mini cheese board, and several other things, and put them all into a gift bag to take to my work Christmas party the next day. Boy was my gift a hit! The gift basket I put together using my unwanted items ended up being one of the most stolen gifts of the entire exchange! It was amazing to be able to spend zero dollars, and still put together one of the most sought after gifts that year.

Christmas isn’t the only occasion you can build great gift baskets for though. Other prime regifting opportunities are

  • Bachelorette parties
  • Baby showers
  • Birthdays
  • Galentine’s Day
  • Hostess gifts for other holidays

Regift Randomly to Your Family and Friends

What’s even more awesome than getting gifts on Christmas or your birthday? Getting random gifts!

Regifting isn’t just one of the best gift ideas for Christmas and other holidays, but an excellent strategy to use to celebrate our other accomplishments as well. Did your friend just buy a house? Regift them that candle and cheese board as a random house warming gift! Not only do you get to recycle those unwanted gifts, but you also get to support your friend’s latest milestone.

Random regifting is great for the not so celebrated milestones in life like these:

  • Buying a house
  • Graduating
  • Getting promoted
  • Starting a new job
  • Opening a business
  • Paying off debt

Regifting Mistakes to Avoid

While regifting is a great money saver and waste reducer, it can be problematic if you don’t take the proper precautions. These are the two biggest regifting mistakes you can make and how to avoid them.

Regifting to the Original Gifter

I literally can’t think of anything worse than this. By far, the biggest mistake you can make when regifting is to accidentally regift something to the person who originally gifted it to you! The second biggest mistake is to regift it to someone else in the same circle. You do not want to be in the middle of an exchange and hear, “isn’t that my gift from last year,” when your gift is opened.

To avoid making this mistake, label every gift in your regifting inventory with who the original giver was and the occasion at which you received it. This way, you can give gifts from friends to family and vice versa, nobody gets their feelings hurt, and your regifting remains a secret.

Leaving Evidence that Your Item is Regifted

Nobody wants your old stuff as a gift. The trick to expert regifting is to make sure that the receiver doesn’t know you’re doing it. Remove all remaining evidence from the original gift exchange. This includes bits of wrapping paper or tape, tags with your name on them, and other notes from the original giver.

Another dead giveaway that’s usually an afterthought is the list of items in a gift set. If you remove some items from a gift basket like in the earlier coffee mug example, make sure to remove any lists of the kit’s contents. These lists are usually found on the external packaging or on a paper insert. If some of the list’s items are missing from your gift, that’s a dead give away that you’ve snatched them up!

Regifting gets a bad rep, but it’s one of the best budget friendly Christmas gift ideas because it gets already purchased items into the hands of someone who will actually use them. By strategically building your inventory, you’ll be able to give gifts that are sure to wow, and avoid getting outed as a regifter. That makes regifting a win for your wallet, the future recipient, and the environment! Now go clear out a space to stash all of your regifting inventory!

To get my FREE 3 Step Guide to Mastering Your Finances click here.

*Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through some links in this post.

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