Well, it's going to happen and you know it - and it's just around the corner. You will receive something that you don't need, don't want, don't like or don't fit. It will happen. Like creamed corn at a food pantry, you'll be wanting to get rid of some gift this year.
I remember my sister getting an angora sweater from my dad for Christmas some years ago. It was so fluffy I think it "meowed." Her eyes shifted around the room looking for a place to land other then the anxious gift-givers. At the car in the driveway she held it up and said, "what the hell am I supposed to do with this?" It wasn't exactly the type of gift you give a hippie living in a tee-pee.
This is why gift cards are so popular - well until you get one marked $50 with $7.86 remaining on it. That'll kill your self esteem in a heartbeat. Actually if you are related to, or friends with, someone that would do that - it's likely that you already have self esteem issues. Maybe counseling, I don't know.
Regifting has an up side. There are only a few dozen iridized purple glass vases with molded raisins on them. They continue to circulate for years because they are easy to clean, no one has ever received one with a hang tag so it can't be returned, you haven't been able to buy them since 1976, and nobody wants them. If you think about it in terms of green, it's the way to go. If there were more of them we might be able to avoid Cap & Trade!
Regifting is certainly a way to save money - but I am suggesting a few rules. After all, you don't want to get caught!
-1 When you receive an ugly or useless gift, pretend to like it. It's good PR for unloading it later on. Because someone will agree with you that it's beautiful if you are in a room full of family and friends. They now become a prime candidate for the regifted item. "Well, you were so excited when I got mine!"
-2 If you can't be happy about it, be sure to pencil the givers initials on it, so that you don't mistakenly, and embarrassingly regift it to them next Christmas.
-3 Always put regifted items in a new box - mildewed tissue paper is a dead give way. The new box and shiny bow lessens the impact of the "ugliness quotient" on the recipient. They'll think it looks familiar for a few moments, but will chalk it up to too much eggnog the year before. New boxes are key!
-4 Regifting is not for used stuff, tag sales and Yankee Swaps are. See my blog on Yankee Swaps.
-5 To prepare your family for regifting - dulling the senses - removing the anticipation of getting a really thoughtful gift, you need to find something that can be given each year that is so ugly, it will become a family heirloom and tradition. It is a great way to bring new spouses and grandchildren into your clan. I suggest a vase with molded raisins or something similar. Each year it goes to someone new in the family. It is best distributed with the fanciest of boxes, ornate wrapping paper and lots of ribbon. Like selling furniture, you mark it up to mark it down.
-6 Don't bother regifting junk from the dollar store. Have you noticed, it all smells the same? Even if it looks like it's worth more than a dollar, don't do it. Just don't go there. And that goes for stuff on the clearance table at the supermarket, just leave it alone. One more quick tip, the stuff you can get a second one free on TV by calling now - don't bother. There is a reason the As Seen on TV stores all went out of business.
-7 Gifts from children under 12 MUST never be regifted. In fact they should be worn or displayed immediately. You get to throw them away while they are off at college.
-8 If the gift really stinks, and regifting is just not possible, I suppose, as a last resort you can return it. It is possible that everyone you know has a Clapper or Clapper Deluxe with a remote - or the gift; like gold jewelry, is worth much more in cash than as a gift, then it's OK to return it. But please do it quietly. I have a big mouth friend that can't wait to ask for the sales receipt before we've finished eating. Then get yourself something nice for Christmas. After all, it IS all about you.
-9 Never regift cash. ;o)
-10 And finally, there is hopefully one thing that although you can't regift it, you can package in such a way that someone else might even ask you for it. That's Jesus.