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To Re-Gift or Not? That is the Question

Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines regifting: Regift: (verb) 1. to give (a gift received) to someone else 2. to give away a gift received.

If asked, many people would probably not admit to regifting and expound on how it is rude or inconsiderate, not to mention socially unacceptable, to accept a gift, likely given with much thought and love, and then to just indiscriminately give that wonderful gift to someone else… who would do such a thing?

Nearly Seven Out of Ten Women Regift

More people than you might think, that’s who.  A 2007 survey conducted by Cynapsus showed that of the 1,049 survey respondents, nearly seven out of ten (68%) women regift or are thinking about it and 47% of the men surveyed said that they had no problem with regifting.

So that begs the question, do we really think that regifting is a social faux pas?  That Cynapsus survey said that 60% of the respondents thought that regifting is becoming more socially accepted… and that was 2007.  So whether we admit it or not, it looks like regifting is gaining acceptance.

Many people assume that if someone regifts, the gift they are giving away is unwanted.  While this may be true in many cases, I believe there are exceptions.  I would like to argue that there is a time and place for regifting and although I am not traditionally a regifter, there have been occasions where I passed along a gift to someone else.

There’s a Time and Place for Regifting

For me, the reason to regift was always the same… I was broke and ill prepared.  A 100 years ago when I was young and working my way through college, money was as scarce as an “A” in Organic Chemistry or a meal that didn’t contain Ramen Noodles.  If I was able to make it home for Christmas, I usually showed up with more dirty laundry than presents.  That’s where regifting made its first appearance in my life.

Later in life, living with my new wife in our spacious 900 square foot apartment, the money for gifts proved difficult to come by, except now the members of her family were added to the gift list.  The saving grace in this situation was that we usually celebrated Christmas at one family’s home, then traveled to the other family’s home for another Christmas celebration.  During the drive to the second round of gift giving, we often re-wrapped and regifted the presents we just received.

In the beginning we experienced a tinge of guilt as the recipient of the regift opened their present and feigned excitement with the gift that didn’t quite fit or match their personality… Grandma with the 24 piece tool kit, or the 13 year old niece with the “Coffee is for Closers” coffee mug.

The Rules of Regifting

While we no longer regift, there was a time when we had it down to a virtual science.  There are certain rules that must be followed in order to be a successful regifter and avoid that confused look on the gift recipient’s face.  If you are considering regifting and want to avoid being labeled a regifter, ask yourself the following questions before you regift that gift:

  • Is it regiftable?  You must make sure the gift you are regifting is something that doesn’t appear to be a regift.  Towels monogrammed with your initials don’t make a good regift (unless the recipient has the same initials of course).  Free promotional items are definitely on the no-go list… not that you would even consider that, right?  The ideal regifts are new household items, wine or spirits (unopened please) or inexpensive jewelry.
  • How does it look?  In order to have a successful regift, your gift must be in off the shelf, unopened, new condition.  Do not regift opened, then repacked items… you can never get everything back in its place and it will be noticeable that it has been opened. Be leery of anything that has evidence that it was once wrapped.  Often no one will notice but obvious tears or remnants of the prior wrapping paper is a dead giveaway that you have regifted.
  • Does it fit the recipient? Just like grandma with the tool kit, make sure the gift you are going to regift fits the person you are giving it to.  Make sure the gift you give is something that will be appreciated, don’t give the gift just for the sake of giving something.
  • Are there any hidden surprises?  Make sure you unwrap the gift and make sure there is not a greeting card or any other item that the original giver has tuck away.  The last thing you want is for your regift to contain proof that the gift was originally given to you.
  • Can you take it?  If you are not going to tell everyone that you are regifting, can you keep the secret?  Are you prepared to deal with the consequences if you are found out?

Keep in mind that the number one rule to regifting is the feelings of the original gift giver.  Do not regift within the same circle of friends or family.  If the original gift giver finds out that you have regifted their gift, no matter your reason, there is a good chance that their feeling will suffer.

So is it okay to regift? Sure, absolutely… under the right conditions and if the gift is appropriate.

Is regifting for you?  Well, you are the only one that can answer that question.  Regifting, if done following the tips above, can sometimes be as difficult as shopping for a gift.  Other than the fact that you don’t have to spend money for the gift, regifting carries with it all of the stress of purchasing a gift, without the convenience of a store full of items to select from.

Another important point to remember is that one man’s trash is (not always) another man’s treasure.  If you are regifting because you just don’t like the gift, make sure your recipient will definitely like it.  If the gift is something that you are sure no one will like, consider donating it to a charitable organization, will likely have some use for it.

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