The Christmas holiday has passed, and there are still piles of bows, tissue and a few random gifts hanging around the dried out Christmas tree in the living room. You may be feeling somewhat conflicted because the gifts left behind are those that weren't on your "must have" list, and you don't know what to do with the hand knitted scarf from Aunt Susie that wreaks of moth balls, or the cookbook you received from your cousin in another state that is bent and looks like it may have come from her church thrift shop. Are you tempted to save a holiday gift for a friend's upcoming birthday, or perhaps take the hand knitted scarf to your elderly neighbor? Before you pass along someone else's "treasure," let's review a few re-gift giving rules...
After Holiday Re-Gifting Etiquette:
Do no harm.
The first thought before recycling a gift given to you this holiday season is to consider the gift giver. If there is a chance they will ask to see the gift again, much like Aunt Susie's hand knitted scarf, put it away someplace safe where you can easily access if she requests to see her masterpiece. It would be terribly embarrassing to admit you can't locate it in your winter scarf and glove drawer.
Re-gift only what you would be proud to claim as the giver.
If you don't like it, don't give it to someone else. If the gift is a perfectly good gift, in new condition, placed in the original box, and is not old or outdated, you may pass it along. You can tell your friend or family member that you received it as a holiday gift, but it isn't your style or color. Since they are a cookbook collector, you thought the cookbook your Aunt Betty gave you would make a great addition to their collection.
Use a new gift bag.
By the time you open the gift, transport it from one home to another, and handle it multiple times, the gift bag or wrapping may be worn or wrinkled. Before re-gifting to another person, place it in a new bag with a fresh bow and a handwritten gift card. Make sure the gift is not personalized or monogrammed. Don't forget to look underneath the gift for a hidden gift tag.
Throw a re-gift party.
Invite your friends over to exchange gifts that are duplicates, or gifts that are fabulous, but for whatever reason, you are not able to use, such as an expensive box of chocolates if you are diabetic. Keep the mood upbeat and be respectful of the gift giver and the gift. Don't make fun of anyone's choice of gift, or mention the gift giver's name. You would obviously be careful not to invite the person who gave the gift you are now re-gifting.
Give the gifts you cannot wear or use to a charity.
If you have a sweater that doesn't fit, or an appliance you can't use, don't hesitate to donate it to a charity that can use it, or pass it along to their community. The adage: "One man's trash is another man's treasure," is often true, and it's a wonderful gesture of kindness to be respectful of a gift that someone gave us -- even if we don't necessarily like it for ourselves.
For more of my re-gifting tips, and timely etiquette advice, read my Re-gifting Do's and Don'ts post. Connect with me here on the Huffington Post, follow me on Pinterest and "like" me on Facebook at Protocol School of Texas.