It happens to the best of us, typically brought on by the worst of us – participate in this gift exchanging rollercoaster long enough and eventually you’re going to be faced with quite possibly the worst Christmastime scenario of all – receiving a gift that you don’t like. You could bury it in the back of the closet and try to forget it ever entered into your life, you could even force yourself to use it every single day in hopes of one day eventually learning to love it, but most people don’t have that kind of patience.  Instead they opt for the more efficient, and likewise also more controversial alternative – re-gifting.

Now whether we’re talking about a crappy office gift or even something much more personal from your dear Aunt Matilda, re-gifting can be a tricky affair and it’s important to know the risks involved before you take the plunge and attempt to pass a present on to a more appropriate recipient.  There’s always the potential for good, old Auntie to start asking questions the next time she comes to visit and notices that the limited edition NASCAR commemorative plate collection that she gave you last Christmas isn’t prominently out for display on your mantle, and even that’s not as bad as the absolute worst case re-gifting scenario that involves said hideous race car plates getting passed around town like an old hat before finally ending up addressed right back to your beloved aunt the following holiday season!  Awkward…

But of course, don’t let these Christmas conundrums scare you away from the joys of re-gifting your way through the season, though, because when executed correctly, no one needs to be the wiser and  it can actually be a great way to knock out some of that holiday shopping good and early without ever even leaving the house!  All it takes is a bit of precision, a dash of tact, and most important of all, this little cheat sheet that I’ve assembled for you below.  Who says Christmas never comes early?!

1. Observe at least a one holiday grace period prior to re-gifting.
Unless the previous giver and your lucky new recipient live on opposite sides of the planet, it’s just too risky to try and turnaround a crap gift the same time you receive it.  Much better to stuff it in the back of the closet and wait until the next birthday when some of the heat dies down…

2. Write down who gave you the gift in the first place!
This seems like an amateur mistake, but trust me – you do not want to be in the same room when someone says, “Hey, this RonCo Nut Smasher is pretty cool … it looks just like the one I got you for your birthday!  And hey, I bought that one at Target … too.”

3. Do your research to find the best fit for your misdirected gift.
Just because you hated it doesn’t mean that the Ultimate All-in-One Bird House / Bird Feeder / Bird Bath Repair Kit isn’t exactly the perfect gift that someone else is waiting for, so consider doing what the other guy should’ve done in the first place and actually put a little thought into who would put such an avian-friendly present to good use.  If you’re not sure, try looking around their yard for broken things that birds would like, if only they were repaired.

4. Stay cool when it comes time to do the deal.
You’re so close – don’t screw this up because they catch you with that “finally unloading this piece of crap” look in your eye.  That also means no whistling or rubbing your toe in the dirt or offering to get everyone eggnog refills when your gift comes up, either – just act natural, smile as if you genuinely want them to be happy about your amazing gift, and hold that sigh of relief until you get back to the car.

5. Don’t feel guilty about it.
Most of all, despite any prior conflictions that you may have had about handing off something that someone else specifically picked out for you, let it go and remember that if the other person really cared about you, they would’ve gotten you something that you would’ve actually liked in the first place.  Unfortunately, some people are just cheap and likewise some gifts are pretty much meant for re-gifting, such as collectible garden gnomes and allegedly witty coffee mugs and pretty much anything you might find in a “bargain bin.”  Re-gifting is just another part of the holidays, like overeating and accidentally setting the tree on fire, so the sooner you learn to embrace this the happier you’ll be…

Besides, it’s either that or you actually keep this crap for yourself … which would you rather do?!

That’s right – just heed these clever instructions and sooner than you can say, “I had a gift receipt, but my dog ate it…” you’ll be passing that singing fish along to someone else who needs it even more than you … more than you, of course, because obviously you already have the Big Mouth Billy Bass Collector’s Edition that I gave you for Christmas, like, four years ago!

You do still have Billy, don’t you???