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It’s a familiar Christmas phenomenon. Someone gives us a gift that we’re less-than-thrilled about. It may be putrid-smelling perfume, a shirt that knew its fashion prime decades ago, or that book that will “change our life.” To be gracious, we smile, hug, and gush with gratitude, all the while stifling our true feelings of disappointment or revulsion.


(Pixabay / PIX1861)

When we come around to it, we can console ourselves in the knowledge that it’s the thought that counts. And, of course, there’s always the chance to pay the gift forward with that time-treasured custom of re-gifting.

The Thursday before Christmas is National Re-gifting Day. We may not like to admit it, but most all of us re-gift—so why not own it with a national holiday? Use the occasion to pay forward those less-than-stellar gifts, perhaps to someone who will appreciate them more than you did.

If you plan to re-gift, though, make sure you observe some basic protocol. Yes, even one of the more tacky habits around is bound by some basic etiquette. Consider the following taboos:

  • Re-gifting within the same social circle – It can prove especially awkward to re-gift only to have the original giver recognize the gift. Make sure not to re-gift in the circles that the original giver runs in.
  • Re-gifting used items – If you light a gifted candle only to realize that you don’t relish its scent, you’re out of luck. Re-gifting a used gift is uncouth. If you aren’t thrilled with a gift, keep it in its original packaging for re-gifting later.
  • Leaving a card – Make sure to remove all tags and cards before paying a gift forward. Otherwise, you will blow your cover as a re-gifter.

Enjoy your re-gifting day, and if you run out of re-gifts, consider some drain cleaning-themed new gifts. It may sound laughable, but everybody needs them. Toilet paper makes a great gift for new home owners. Fancy faucet heads can make showers far more enjoyable. (And character-themed heads—like the new Darth Vader shower head—can make them a lot more entertaining.) There are lots of clever toilet paper holders on the market. Hand soap and hand towels also make great, useful gifts.