Regifting — Time to re-evaluate?

What do you think about regifting? Have you ever regifted something? How did you feel about it? Sneaky or thoughtful? Cheap or resourceful?

The Thursday before Christmas is National Regifting Day, dubbed by Money Management International because it’s the most popular day for office party gift exchanges. The link? Apparently, 40 percent of office party gifts are later regifted! 

Regifting isn’t new, of course—and I’m hoping our feelings about it might be changing. If you’re concerned about the etiquette of regifting, you can find all kinds of common sense guidelines, such as keeping the item in its original box, with the tags; rewrapping the item in fresh gift wrap; removing the original gift tag; and, of course, being careful not to regift the original gifter or someone in their close circle. 

Most of the advice, though, seems to have an underlying theme of getting away with regifting, of being clever enough to regift without detection. But what if we accept regifting as a perfectly acceptable, logical, sustainable practice? If someone gives me something that I really have no use for, and I know someone who would enjoy it, lucky me. And lucky them, right?

Here are some of my personal guidelines for regifting:

• Always avoid hurt feelings. Not everyone is on the same page about regifting being so perfectly fine. I try to regift to people who would appreciate the practice rather than have their feelings hurt by it. And I don’t regift items that have sentimental value. 

• Personalize the gift. No, I’m not talking monograms or engravings. I try to elevate the re-gift by adding a little something to it myself—a box of my favorite tea to go with a teapot or a pen to accompany notecards, for example. This isn’t necessary, but it adds a bit of you to the original gift. Sometimes a heartfelt note is all it takes. 

• Stay thoughtful. Don’t regift just to get rid of something. Be as thoughtful about a regift as you would about a gift you purchase new. Does it suit the person? Will the recipient really like it?

• Don’t regift something that doesn’t fit with your ideology—such as a tee-shirt with a saying you find offensive or a leaf blower when you abhor the noise they make—even if you know someone who would appreciate it. Likewise, if you think something is poorly made or just plain ugly, don’t pass it on. Keep in mind that a gift is a reflection of you.

• Be honest about regifting. I might explain that I already read a book I was gifted and think that the new recipient would enjoy it, too. Or I might tell the new recipient that a pair of gloves I was given doesn’t match either of my coats, but I think they’d look beautiful with hers. (I admit I find it easier to be up front about regifting when I pass along a gift for no particular occasion rather than for a birthday or holiday, — but I hope as our attitude toward regifting evolves we can all regift honestly, and with glee, even during the holidays!)

Do you regift? Have you received a regift that you felt particularly good about?

You might also enjoy: Recycling during the holidays

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