Giving a used gift, or regifting one you've recently received, is often not only convenient but can also save you a pretty penny. Of course, it's not always appropriate or smart to gift something that's used or freshly unwrapped, but it can be done right. In general, it should go without saying that you only want to gift used items that are in good repair.
Ask yourself the following to decide if it's OK to give someone a used gift:
1. Who Is It For? If you're trying to make a good impression, giving someone a used gift may not be the best way to go--that is, unless you can disguise it so it looks brand new. For example, most handmade items won't come with tags or in a box, so they're less likely to raise suspicion. On the other hand, a family heirloom or antique is obviously used, but can make an ideal gift for the right recipient. That said, most business acquaintances may prefer and expect something straight from the store.
2. How "Used" Is It? It's likely that an "open-box" gift from an Internet reseller on Amazon or eBay will be just like new. Its UPC bar code may have been removed (to redeem a rebate), or it could simply be an item that was opened but never used. Thoroughly investigate reseller websites for used gifts to save yourself money while still giving your recipient a seemingly brand new item.
3. Can You Make It Look New? If you're willing to get a little creative, there are a number of ways to disguise the fact that your gift is used. A used PlayStation 3 gaming system hooked up and ready to go is one way to mask that it's used (while doing the recipient a valuable service), as is setting up a used laptop at your recipient's home office. If you can find a way to present your gift naturally without its box or tag, your recipient may be none the wiser that they aren't the first to receive it.
4. What Is the Potential Fallout? It's best to err on the side of caution if you're thinking about giving someone a used gift who wouldn't appreciate it. But if that's not an option, or if you want to try your luck, consider how the recipient would react if he or she found out. How would their response affect you? For example, if your boss or spouse became upset with you as a result, it's likely to have more consequences than if a coworker or a friend did.
5. How Much Are You Really Saving? If the risk you take isn't worth the reward, play it safe and gift something new. For example, if you purchase a used digital camera for $90, but it only costs $110 brand new, is it really worth the risk? Before you buy, do your research to determine how much you stand to save. Consider this in light of the potential fallout if your used gift is discovered and proceed accordingly. Saving $20, for example, is not likely worth the chance of straining your marriage or office environment.
Final Thoughts. If you decide to go with a used gift, research its return policy before you finalize the purchase, as return policies for used or open-box items are often less comprehensive than their new counterparts. Giving a used gift can be advantageous, but you should consider the proposition thoroughly to determine if it's the right move.
Would you ever give a used gift to someone?
David Bakke is a contributor for MoneyCrashers.com, a personal finance blog where you can learn more about money savings strategies and even regifting etiquette.