12/09/2010 10:55 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Art of Holiday Gifts Regifted

Fess up.

We've all done it at some point in our lives. In a bind or with intent, we've regifted in a moment of desperation or after hours of deliberation. We might have felt bad about it or not given a whit, but let me tell you, it's really OK to regift in the right circumstances.

Think about it, regifting is a perfect option in this dour economy. It's also about as green as you can get (recycle, reuse, repurpose), not to mention an ideal way to tidy your home of a plethora of things you don't use, have never used and will never use.

Now I'm not suggesting regifting take the place of charitable giving, just something else to do with your excess, especially if going to the mall and spending money on presents isn't in your budget for now.

Regifting might even inspire you to reach out to people you normally wouldn't put on your holiday list!

However, be warned, there's an art to regifting, and below I share some tips on how to do it right.

1. Never regift an item that is broken, damaged or shoddy. Electronic toys that don't work, a chipped vase or used clothing are no-nos! On the other hand, an unused address book, when you already have one, is fine, as is a duplicate toy that your kid got for his/her birthday.

2. Always regift something that has not--or rarely--been used. A hot pink scarf you wore once, but decided hot pink was not your color is OK; a pink scarf you knew right off the bat was not your color and still has the store tag, even better.

3. Match the gift thoughtfully to the person you are regifting. Sometimes we get gifts that aren't right for us, but are perfect for someone else. It's all a matter of taste. Keep a list of whom you want to regift and put ideas next to that person's name.

4. Do NOT accidentally regift the same gift to the person who gave it to you in the first place. Also stay away from their close friends and immediate family, as they might have shopped together. It helps to set up a regifting space in your home, where you can instantly put regiftable items, with information on where they came from.

5. Be creative with wrapping and packaging. Go all out on pretty papers, attractive ribbons and nice bows. Individualize the wrapping as much as possible. Make your own gift baskets, like a bottle of wine from your cellar, with two carefully washed and polished glasses, from an incomplete crystal set you rarely use.

6. Regift family heirlooms to family members.
Most people would love to get things that have been in the family and are likely to remain in the family. These are ideal regifting items. Give a niece a bracelet that once belonged to her great-aunt or a nephew a gently used toy that his grandfather once played with.

7. Vintage items and antiques mark the regifting spot. It's perfect to regift things that were never intended to be new to start with. Just make sure they are clean and well cared for. I have lots of such items I have picked up over the years and they make ideal presents for people who enjoy using and owning one-of-a-kind things.

8. Give foodstuff that you've been given but don't eat. This is best done the same year you receive the goods. Make sure the packaging is intact and the expiration dates are good. Why let a well-intended holiday ham go to waste if you're a vegetarian?

9. Misses you bought your immediate family can work elsewhere. A gift you bought an immediate family member that was a total miss can also be regifted, like a children's book your kid had already read at school. These gifts are better regifted to those who may appreciate them, rather than sit around gathering dust.

I hope these ideas are useful. Please feel free to share more with me. Have a great holiday season and approach regifting with the true spirit of giving. Remember it doesn't have to be new to be heartfelt; it has to be thought out, planned and given with consideration.

Generosity doesn't always have to be a trip to the store!