Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is Regifting Acceptable?

Between writing final papers, taking final exams, driving home to Michigan and rushing around on last-minute Christmas errands, I've had a crazy couple of weeks. I got a little bit behind on blogging, so today I'm going to run a post I originally wrote last year on the subject of regifting. Thanks for understanding, I'll be back to normal posts once the holiday craziness is behind me!

Regifting is something almost everyone has done at one point (though we wouldn't want to admit it), but it's very risky. If you forget where you got the present, you might give it to a mutual friend or family member of the original giver, leading to a very uncomfortable situation when that person comes across your gift in someone else's house.

But, if you decide to regift something, there are a few guidelines to follow:

Make sure you're 100% sure who gave you the gift before you give it to someone else. Obviously the worst case scenario is that you give someone their present back, but it's just as bad if you give the gift to the original giver's best friend. The best way to avoid this situation is to only regift to someone who is in no way associated with the original giver. If you're not sure who gave you something, you shouldn't try regifting it.

Don't regift anything you've used. If regifting something is slightly disrespectful to the person who gave you the gift, giving a used gift is disrespectful to both people.

Check that there isn't a personalized note in or on the gift. Forgetting this step can be very dangerous, as someone will be far more offended that you were too lazy to notice this than they would be about the regifting.

Don't regift food or perfume (unless you check the expiration date). According to a recent article, perfume evaporates within 6 months. And no one wants stale food.

Don't regift "important" presents from the people who are closest to you. If someone makes a big deal about the gift, they're going to ask you about it in the future. You're best off storing it somewhere in the house and wearing/using it when the person comes over.

Just because you're regifting something doesn't mean you shouldn't follow the regular gifting rules. Only give people things you think they'd like. Make sure the gift is in good condition (iron clothing so it looks new). And don't give anything that's dated (like the signature piece from last year's collection).

What are your thoughts on regifting?


Katherine said...

I understand that your guideline about not regifting something that you've already used is about not just giving people things your cast-offs, but I think that in general we could do less buying people shiny new things and reusing old items (consume less, waste less, etc. etc.). If you've honestly tried something out and found it didn't work for you but think that it would really work for your friend, that's acceptable, I think.

The Fashionable Kiffen said...

I second not buying new things if they aren't necessary, Katherine. Good thing to point out!

Dana said...

I think that giving someone something you've found you can't/won't use is acceptable before or after it has been (gently) used - HOWEVER: I don't agree with wrapping said item and using it as the 'gift' on a gift-giving occaision - I think it's much better as a "hey, I have this bread machine my aunt bought for us as a wedding gift, I already have a bread machine and I was thinking that you really enjoy cooking and baking - would you like to have this bread machine?"

OR - "My sister got me the new (insert designer name here) fragrance, but after I wore it, it didn't smell as good on me as it did in the bottle - have you tried it? Would you like this bottle?"

I had a coworker give me a beautiful wine basket he'd received from a client - I knew it was a re-gift - but he didn't really try to pretend he'd chosen it just for me - I don't give him points for giving me a gift for the holiday, but I give him points for sharing the wealth and for thinking of me.

CompassRose said...

Personally, I have no problem with it at all -- IF the gift is re-gifted with you in mind, and isn't just passing on some piece of ornamental obligatory junk. Used? Not used? Doesn't matter. I agree with the other Katherine, that the obligation to buy something shiny new is something we've been trained into by corporate marketing.

Once a gift has been given, as far as I'm concerned, it belongs to the recipient, to do with as he or she pleases, including using regularly, returning, regifting, crushing for "found art", or dropping off at a charity shop. I see absolutely no reason why I, or anyone, should feel compelled to store unnecessary and unwanted things in our ever-more-cluttered spaces, for someone else's sake. Our lives and our space are our own, and unused objects are a psychic burden and physical inconvenience.

In short, why on earth would you waste resources by keeping something unused when you know someone else who might like it? What's the point?

Anonymous said...

I guess I wouldn't much care if most things were already used, but with the caveat that I would only appreciate it if I already wanted the gift. I think this article brings out a broader issue- that we do have just plain too much stuff! I think what I hate most about the holidays is gift giving, feeling obligated to give people stuff and dealing with the crowds and time crunch to get everything. But what I especially hate is that the majority of things that I get I really never wanted in the first place! Now I just have this stuff sitting around and I have no idea what to do with it! And I know people will ask about it when they come over, so what do I do? I wish we could just honestly say to people, I appreciate the thought but I just don't need this, so I'm going to give it to someone who does! This is why I love that my mother always asks me for a christmas list. She figured out a long time ago that I'm just going to give away anything I don't want, since I hate having stuff around, especially when it's stuff that could make someone else so much happier!