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December 27, 2012

Regifting: Practical and Thrifty or Thoughtless?

by Anne Paddock

Every holiday season, many people receive a gift where it’s obvious the gift is a regift:  a gift that has been received and given in the guise of a new gift by the original recipient. Some of the country’s most respected etiquette experts claim regifting is acceptable if done carefully meaning both the original donor and the new recipient don’t know.  However, the notion of regifting is abhorrent to some because it implies that someone did not put enough time and thought into seeking just the right gift for the recipient.

Etiquette is based upon being thoughtful and having intentions that are honest which translates to letting a recipient know you care enough to put time and effort into choosing a gift.  Selecting an unwanted gift from a closet to regift doesn’t send the right message to the recipient and more often than not backfires  – who wants to be known as a regifter? In some instances such as an event that requires a hostess gift, it may not matter because these gifts tend to be generic – wine, cookies, or chocolate. In fact,  regifting could be considered practical and thrifty in this instance but if the recipient is a good friend or a well-known acquaintance, the recipient more than likely knows the giver is simply recycling an unwanted gift.

Some of the most memorable regifts my family has received include unusual bottles of alcohol,  a box of candles (that ironically had a gift receipt dated the year before along with a note to the giver from another person in the bottom of the box), boxes of cookies and chocolates that came from charity event gift bags or banks, and children’s gifts that a parent obviously regifted (when there was no gift receipt and in the rare instance the item didn’t fit or my child didn’t like it, the store refused to issue store credit because they hadn’t carried the product in months).

I’m guilty of being a regifter.  Nearly 23 years ago when I got married, we received so many gifts I didn’t know what to do with them and so I passed one particular gift on to a friend who was getting married a few months after us. The guilt and shame haunted me because I knew what I did was not very thoughtful and that they realized an unwanted wedding gift was being recycled. I always wanted to say “I’m sorry” and that “I shouldn’t have done that” but I’ve never been brave enough to apologize so I continually try to make it up to them whenever I see them by being thoughtful. I never regifted after that because it made me feel bad and the guilt occupied too much time in my head – regret does that. I also want friends and family to know that I care enough to put the time and effort into selecting a gift for them.  So, I stopped. Learned my lesson. Call me a reformed regifter.

Instead of regifting, consider donating your unwanted gifts, your children’s gifts and charity event gift bag items to Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Or if you can’t seem to part with these goodies, hold onto them until December 18, 2013 – National ReGift Day – and give them away in honor of the celebration.

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