Is It Ever OK to Regift Food?

One holiday belief that’s as time-honored as singing carols or exchanging cookies is the notion that regifting presents is off-limits, and that it’s never OK to regift food items. But the truth is that regifting can be practical, eco-conscious, economical, and yes, thoughtful—even when it comes to food items.

If something doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, but you know it’d instill joy in a loved one, then it’s a good contender for regifting. Maybe you only drink tea, but you know your coffee snob of a cousin will appreciate those honey-processed beans someone gifted you. Appliances, kitchen tools, wine, specialty foods like sauces and salts, and ceramics can all make nice regifts. Just remember that items should be brand-new (from this year!), sealed and not past their expiration date, and in excellent condition (nothing crumbled or broken).

If your items don’t meet all of the above criteria, then just say no to regifting—what you bestow upon your loved ones is a reflection of you, after all. Also stay away from controversial foods like fruitcake or canned meats, anything cheaply made, and provisions that are out of character for you (you wouldn’t give alcohol if you don’t drink, would you?). The same goes with homemade edible gifts: You don’t know how long ago they were made, you won’t be able to provide the recipe if you’re asked, and you won’t know the ingredient list, which someone may want if they have food allergies. If you really want to get these things off your hands, consider donating them, or offering them to a friend with the open disclaimer that you received them as a gift but have no use for them.

Certain items should be regifted with discretion: Only give perishable foods like chocolate if you know how old they are, or sparkling wines if you’re certain they’ve been properly handled (nobody will appreciate an explosive bottle of Champagne). And it goes without saying that you should always inspect and rewrap the gift, and never regift to someone in the same circle of friends or family. That is, if you want to keep your friends.
Photos: Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Buttercream FillingStollen, and Holiday Sparkler from CHOW

Susannah Chen is a San Francisco–based freelance writer. When she's not cooking or writing, she's on the hunt to find the world's best chilaquiles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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