Many people ask me: How to recycle gifts? Here is my answer.

You have seen (or have been in) this scenario: Kyra is having a birthday and she received a gardening set. But the thing is, Kyra lives on the 12th floor of a condominium tower and has the brownest thumb in the city. She has nothing to use of this expensive set of gardening tools.

Regifting is an art. When you receive a gift that you do not need (or want) like that shirt that is three sizes bigger than what you wear, you can always smile and thank the giver and hold the item for giving to another person again.

There are rules on how to recycle gifts, though, and you should follow them!

1. The recipient should be able to use (or should love) the gift. Please do not subject the item to regifting again, I beg of you! If you are Kyra on the example above, give that gardening set to aunt Martha who has a garden full of heirloom tomatoes. Do not give it to the guy a floor below your condo.

2. The original giver and the new recipient should not know each other or have any common friends, besides you. The re-giftee and the giver should never cross paths. Ever. Imagine what will happen if the original giver sees your friend wearing that nice shirt she gave you. There should also be no common friends between the two. That friend can be a witness of your little trick and exclaim, “Hey, I saw Mary giving Jenna that same stuff at her birthday. Same color!” This is to avoid hurting the feelings of the original giftor.

3. The regiftee should not be present when you received the original gift. For pretty obvious reasons.

4. Personalized gifts are meant for you only. These should not be regifted, no matter what. If you received a personalized gift and you do not want it, just keep it, do not use it. Also, you thoroughly should check your gifts if they are personalized before regifting.

5. Check the gift for any price tags, letters for you, or any trace that the gift was originally given to you. Thoroughly. If it is a bag or a shirt, check the pockets to see if there are any hidden stuff the original giftor added for a little personal touch. Imagine the horror of the regiftee if he sees a letter of confession of love in the pockets of that jeans. Oops!

6. Rewrap! Do not be lazy. Remove the original wrapping, open the gift box, check, and then wrap it again in a new gift wrapper. Inside the gift box or the gift itself (example, a bag) might be a love letter (see rule #5) or a smaller gift that you would want (money, money, money) or *gasp* Peter Dinklage. You will never know what is inside, so open the gift and wrap it again.

7. Meaningful gifts are not meant to be regifted, unless to someone who is equally meaningful. So, you received that heirloom fine bone vase that was passed down from your great-grandmother. Even though you do not like it, suck it up and keep it, until someone else in the family can take it from you. Maybe your younger sibling or your child. You can disregard this rule if you are totally OK with your great-grandmother haunting you at three in the morning.

8. The sooner you regift, the better. Food expires, so this is one obvious example. But keepsakes or clothes or gadgets or other things can also have an expiration date (just not spoilage). You should give your unwanted gifts away as soon as possible so they will not get old or obsolete. It is already embarrassing to give away that Nokia 5110 you received from mom fifteen years ago.

9. Declare you are regifting the item if it adds value. Heirloom gifts are a prime example. Maybe your grandma’s engagement ring, your mom’s good luck earrings.

10. If you screw up, admit. Admit to your little trick if you get busted. Just explain why you recycled the gift item and move on.

Oops, there is a #11th rule on how to recycle gifts:

11. It is totally fine to re-gift gifts if you do not want or need them, if the new giftee will.

Related post: How to Save Money on Christmas Gifts, Why Was My Gift Returned and How to Refuse Gifts Politely