To Regift or Not When Downsizing or Minimizing: A Professional Organizer’s Opinion

While organizing or downsizing, many clients ask us, ‘Is it okay to recycle, repurpose, or regift an item you’ve received as a gift if you aren’t able to use it or are not fond of it?’

Professional organizers see unwanted gifted items cluttering up clients’ spaces all the time. The recipients are afraid to part with these objects even though they will never use them.

If you are planning to downsize, minimize or organize, it may also be tempting to make gifts out of the items you are donating or discarding. Impromptu presents to friends or family that come out of moving and packing can be the most thoughtful and meaningful and the popularity of recycling and reusing items is both popular and encouraged today. Passing along unused items is now perceived as admirable behavior rather than an insult. What could be more heartfelt than thinking of those you care about while sorting or packing? 

But, is it always okay to regift an item you’ve received? If it was truly a gift, consider that it is yours to do with as you wish. If the gift is more suited  to someone else, passing it along for loving use is a better way to honor the giving sentiment than placing it in a closet, where it will take up needed storage space indefinitely or end up in a landfill. If you have abundance and can share with others, who would object?

Here are questions to ask yourself to ensure you are regifting the right way:

  • Are you honoring the giver and recipient?

  • Are you able to present it as a thoughtful gesture?

  • Will the new recipient love this item?

  • Have you run out of space to keep this item?

  • Is the item generic or consumable?

  • Will this help my finances?

  • Am I keeping it out of the landfill?

And if the answer is yes to any of these questions, it’s best to refrain from regifting:

  • Is the recipient in the same circle as the original giver, family, colleagues, school?

  • Will the original giver be offended if they find out?

  • Will the new recipient feel slighted that you haven’t bought something new?

  • Is the object handmade or one of a kind?

  • Will you have to be dishonest?

  • Is it your mother in law?

Gifts are meant to make people feel appreciated. If there is any chance that passing an item forward will hurt someone’s feelings, either the original giver or the new receiver, you may want to rethink the process. Be especially cautious with people whose “love language” is gifts and consider how important your relationship is with those involved. Remember that everyone is different and ultimately, only you can make this decision based on these and other criteria..

If you didn’t disclose what you were doing and the original giver finds out:

Folks who are mature and practical enough not to be that attached to material objects should understand if you explain that you had noticed it was even more perfect for someone else you know. After all, you are not giving away the person who gave the gift. It is a gift, it is now yours to do with as you want.

A very sensitive person may need a bit more of an apology. The best way to make amends is to ask them how you can make it right and then do so if at all possible.

If the recipient finds out and asks you about it:

Tell the truth. You received this gift that you thought was more perfect for them or didn’t need and you thought that they would enjoy it. The fact that you did not go out and buy something new in no way indicates your affection for them.

And lastly…when you are giving gifts, either new or used, make it easy on your recipient. Let them know that if they don’t like or need the gift, you would be delighted if they paid it forward and gave it to someone who will enjoy it!




Contact us at info@idealorganizers for all of your downsizing and organizing needs.