I KNOW it seems callous to talk about discarding presents barely 48 hours after receiving them, but hear me out.

It really is the thought that counts, and if you get your own thinking cap on now you can save yourself money, time and valuable storage space in your home.

Mention re-gifting and most people probably think of poorly chosen gifts, ungrateful recipients, or both. But this is too narrow a view.

One reason why re-gifting occurs is that it is in fact perfectly chosen – and the person already owns it.

In these situations – he’s already read the book, for example, or she bought herself the scarf – the act of re-gifting is actually the highest compliment to the giver.

Gift back

The simplest way to re-gift is to consider whether the gifter might want the item for themselves.

If it was handed over with a cautious “I hope you don’t already have it ...”

There’s no need to fib, especially if you have similar tastes – and it might turn out that they’ve received something else they wish to pass on.

Label your gifts

In most cases, of course, you won’t wish to breathe a word about the fate of the gift after your thank-you note has been sent.

The cardinal rule here is to pop a sticky note on it to remind you who gave you it, so you do not accidentally return it to them, or give it to someone else who opens it in front of them – unless, of course, it’s something like a popular brand of wine or box of chocolates, the likes of which are regularly bought and exchanged.

Note expiry dates

If you have a serious surplus of sweet treats or alcoholic gifts – or you’ve been gifted some other food or drink item you don’t like or can’t consume – the key tactic here is to note the best before date.

If it’s short, it could be the item has reached the end of its re-giving life.

In this game of reverse pass the parcel, it’s the person holding it when the music stops who loses out, but if there are still a few weeks left your local food bank could be on to a winner.

Check, too whether you have any unwanted hostess gifts lurking in the cupboards that you could take along .

Consider age and stage

If your child has received duplicate toys or games, these could be set aside for birthday gifts for his or her friends.

But make sure you don’t hold on to them for too long in case the age-appropriate moment may pass or that particular toy becomes yesterday’s news overnight.

Season’s cheating

You might find yourself with a surplus of fluffy pyjamas, cosy socks, hot water bottles or even heated blankets – all of which are sure to be very popular gifts this year.

They will make excellent birthday presents for Capricorn or Aquarius friends but bear in mind they may be suspiciously received in the summer months!

If you have the storage space to keep them until next winter, make a note in a diary or birthday book so you don’t forget them.

Don’t have a diary? Make discreet enquiries to find out if anyone has received two for Christmas – the chances are high!

Take stock before it goes in the box

In some households the decorations will already be on their way to the loft or garage by now but if you’re waiting until Twelfth Night it’s worth pausing to take stock of what you have left over in the way of cards, wrapping paper and any surplus little gifts.

Making a list (or simply taking photos to save in a Christmas folder) ensures you won’t be tempted to buy anything you don’t need when festive stock is knocked down to bargain basement prices in the days and weeks to come.

If you have functional Christmas-themed items like towels, soap dispensers or casserole dishes, keep them accessible in case they need to be put to use outwith the one month for which they are seasonally appropriate.

A snowman towel in a guest en suite or a Santa platter at a summer barbecue make more sense than buying non-Christmassy items that do the same job.

Retail if you don't want to re-gift

It'll be out with the old, in with the new for the lucky folk who’ve received the latest phones, laptops or tablets this Christmas (or indeed treated themselves to an upgrade in the recent “Black Friday” sales).

If you don’t have anyone in mind for your hand-me-downs, it could be worth finding out what someone is prepared to pay for them.

At the very least it’s worth pausing to consider the resale value before donating what was recently a top-of-the-range gadget to a family member who already has a perfectly serviceable smartphone or computer of their own.

Those who have had a scaled-down Christmas due to soaring costs may be waiting until January to try and grab a secondhand bargain.

Clothes, toys and homewares might also be worth more than you think, if you have time to carry out a bit of online research.

With no sign of an end to the Royal Mail strikes at time of writing, local selling platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree avoid the need to faff about with packaging your items and arranging a delivery, but depending on what you are selling you might wish to cast a wider net, whether on the original online auction site eBay or newer platforms like Depop and Vinted for clothes (Poshmark or Tradesy for designer labels).

Just be sure to mention the strikes in your description so that buyers – especially any international buyers – understand there might be a wait to receive it.

To help you decide if it’s worth the bother of packaging an item to deliver it, used eBay’s “advanced search” function to search for the same item or something similar, making sure to tick the “completed listings” box.

Bear in mind that any active “buy it now” prices might be over-optimistic. You might be surprised by how much people will pay for something just a little out of date, listed with the right keywords and detailed photographs.

Do you have questions about online buying and selling, or tips to share with other readers? Drop us a line at community@thenational.scot.