Well, it's the holidays. It's the time of year for friends, family, parties, shopping and gift exchanges. But what of those last two? If only there were a way to take the shopping part out of the picture, but still participate in the gift exchange. Hmmm... How might one accomplish this? Ah! The age old re-gift. We talk a lot about being frugal and practical, but does this one cross the line?
I can honestly say that I have never regifted. Not because I'm above it, or anything noble like that. I totally would. I guess the problem is that anything that I have received I have either liked enough to wear, eat, read, use or otherwise open and keep, or not liked it enough to either return or let dust gather.
I can remember two occasions when someone I knew clearly recieved a regift. The first was a friend who is the one in the group who is into numerology, incense, aromatherapy, etc. Well, in an odd gesture, as our group didn't really exchange gifts at this time, another friend gave her a fake crystal candy dish. You know the ones that your mom had on her coffee table? It came in a box, but the brown on the box was a tad faded. The dead giveaway was the fact that not a soul on this planet who knew the recipient would have been out shopping, stop in whatever section you find things like this, and say, "hey, I know just the person who would appreciate this." The additional topper was that the recipient was semi-homeless. She, as I, was crashing at a friend's apartment as she transitioned from moving back to finding an apartment.
The other occasion when a regift was obvious was an office party Secret Santa. The gift was a couple of mismatched candles and bathsoaps. They were placed in some tissue and wrapped in a box from the Gap. Seriously. If you are going to regift, put some effort into making it look new. The great irony is that she pulled the re-gifter's name two years later. I urged her to regift his regift right back to him. Oh, that would have been awesome! But she took the high ground and gave him an actual gift.
So, there are rules to regifting. You can't just go digging in your closet, throw a bow on something and call it a gift. I found this article about regifting on MSN Money. The author gives a dozen rules to regifting. Two that I want to comment on, and one that I would add to the list.
- Don't Mention It Please. The author feels that even someone who wants what you are regifting will resent you it you let on that it's a regift. I say that it depends on two things, the gift and the relationship. If you are close and have a light, fun relationship, then it's your call. You may be able to pull it off. Also, if the gift is a bit of a gag, by all means reveal origin ("I got it from Frank, who got it from Sue, who got it from her office white elephant exchange. All yours now!").
- Do keep track of who gave it to you first. This is kind of along the lines of the regifting to the original regifter that I wanted my friend to do. But generally yes, you should be careful not to regift to someone who knows the original giver. Imagine, "That's a pretty vase, Suzie. I gave Joanie one just like it for Christmas last year." Thinks to herself, "lousy Joanie... And what's with Bob? He never has a second cup at home..."
The addition piece of regifting advice that I have to offer relates to my first regifting story, the "crystal" candy dish. Make sure the gift is appropriate for the recipient. Don't give martini glasses to your buddy who is 18 months sober. It's not alcohol, but seriously. What's he going to use them for?
If you do it right, I say there's nothing wrong with regifting.