Re-gifting: do or don’t?

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Yesterday I posed the question to my Facebook friends:

OK, let’s be honest, is re-gifting not cool or a form of recycling?

And the vast majority of people who responded said yes — but you have to do it responsibly.

My friend, Melinda, said it’s OK “only if done honestly.” For example, you should say, “Hey, I got this for Christmas but it doesn’t fit/not my color and I thought it would look great on you.”

Pal Titus agreed: “If you really don’t want it, and you give it to someone who really does, it’s a form of paying it forward.”

And my classmate, Brian, called re-gifting a form of recycling: “If you feel it’s a better fit for someone else then why not.”

Turns out, most Americans feel the same way — and they don’t even mind getting a recycled gift, either.

According to a recent survey, 83 percent of responders said they don’t mind receiving a re-gifted present. And half of them said they suspected they had received one in the past.

But get this: only 35 percent said they had, themselves, re-gifted something.

I’m not sure if I believe that.

My guess is we’ve all, in some way, have re-gifted something. Like that box of See’s Candies you decided to share with your favorite secretary. Or that third blender you handed off to your little sister who left for college. I feel like we’ve all done that.

But true re-gifting — the practice of passing on a present to someone else as a present — is a little trickier.

For starters, you can’t re-gift everything. Monogrammed towels, for example, aren’t appropriate to pass on. And you have to be careful you don’t give away something to someone who might have ties to the original giver. It would be entirely awkward seeing a gift from your boss on the desk of a co-worker.

So I’m throwing it out there: you think re-gifting is appropriate? And when is it not? I’d love to hear your stories!

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11 Responses to “Re-gifting: do or don’t?”

  1. uncleb December 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    When I get something I don’t need or can’t eat (sugar is off my diet list), I just tell the recipient that I can’t use this so they’re going to inherit what I got.

  2. rayboyjr December 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Hey Cat: … soooooo … does re-gifting also include re-wrapping??? … and presenting it in the same manner as a new gift??? … that would just seem like it would create an awkward feeling …

    … is giving it away the same as re-gifting??? … I’ve done that many times … but only after I’ve at least made an effort to enjoy what was given to me …

    … if it’s food, I’ll try it … if it’s clothes, I’d wear it at least once … if it’s a gadget or tool or something like that, I’d try it out or at least hang on to it maybe for a day that I’d actually need to use it …

    … that might seem wasteful … but I’d like to think that whoever gave it to me put in thought, care, and effort … and I’d like to return the same thought and effort in trying to put it to some use …

    … and yes I have tried food that I normally would not try … I’ve worn clothes that are absolutely not my style or color … and I still have unused stuff in my cupboards and closets …

    • Catherine Toth December 28, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      You mean, you re-gift in the same wrapper? How do you know what’s inside?

  3. David Jackson December 28, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    Re-gift or Goodwill… it is a close call. Depends on the source, the present, and matching up needs. Sometimes I exchange things for something I would rather have but rarely.

    • Catherine Toth December 28, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      I think it gets harder, too, the older we get. Gifts just don’t have that same panache. We want stuff that we can use — or that we really want — and everything else becomes clutter.

  4. Annoddah Dave December 28, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    CAT: I am a re-gift recipient….I happen to like fruit cake, ergo, I get quite a bit this time of year. I don’t mind, I gladly take it off people’s hands. I draw the line at underwear. I am particular about that.

    • Catherine Toth December 28, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Fruitcake? You like fruitcake? Oh, man, our family makes a kick-ass one! I shoulda brought some to you!

  5. M December 28, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Hello Cat!
    I re-gift something I don’t want for a grab bag.

    • Catherine Toth December 28, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      That makes sense. I mean, it’s not directed toward any one person, so I think that’s fair.

  6. bumper December 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    I don’t understand why re-gifting gets such a bad rap. Of course, you can re-gift selfishly or thoughtlessly, but I think most do it for practical reasons while still thinking about the needs and wants of the recipient. I stash away nice, but unwanted or unneeded items in my closet and start there whenever I have to give a present. If there’s nothing appropriate, I’m happy to hit the mall.

    For me, all the talk about re-gifting creates unnecessary drama over a (usually) kind, generous act. It’s similar to worrying about getting a gift on sale — is that gift any less valuable or special if it was purchased at a deep-discount? Is your gift less appropriate if you buy it economically on Amazon.com, rather than purchasing it locally and providing a gift receipt to enable easy returns? I say, why judge? As long as the giving is well-intentioned, it should be appreciated. And anyway, going out and buying a present from the store doesn’t ensure that the giver put any special thought into it either.

    Rather than focus on the source of the gift, we should value most the INTENT of it. But, perhaps that’s often hard to do in this commercial, materialistic society.

  7. Kenneth December 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    I used to cut the tape on one end of the present, slide the box out to remove the contents, and then slide the box back in. The following Christmas, I would insert the new contents into the old gift, and give the recycled wrapped gift to the original giver. One one person recognized their own box out of the years I did this stunt!

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