It’s a not-so-little secret that most people have regifted at one time or another. Why not? If you receive something that isn’t quite right for you, whether style or fit or utility, and for whatever reason, you can’t return it, there isn’t anything wrong with giving it in turn to someone who would like it or be able to use it.
Within the limits of good taste of course. It’s generally not wise to regift something back to the person who gave it to you or in a situation where the original giver might awkwardly become aware of the regift.
Or to announce at the top of your lungs that it is a regift.
A lesson my son has yet to learn alas. Last fall, we found a craft kit more suitable for younger children in the closet. It was a rainy day emergency gift that my mom had picked up when Douglas was in pre-school. He is far too old for it now, so together we decided to give it to my husband’s four year old grandson T. as one of his Christmas gifts from Douglas. Yes, that would make him Doug’s nephew but he adamantly resists that label and I respect his wishes.
The day after Christmas my step-daughter and her son came over to the house to exchange gifts. When T. got to the afore-mentioned regift, Douglas cheerfully announced to all in the room that the kit was something someone got for him but he was too old for it now so he gave it to T.
It could have been extremely mortifying. Luckily, although my mom was there, I had warned her beforehand and she was fine with it. My step-daughter also had just finished telling us some of her holiday regifting strategies; while I won’t go into details, let’s just say she has embraced the tactic to a far greater and deeper extent than we have.
What do I regift? Not much really, but there are a few things that are almost guaranteed to hit the regift pile.
Red wine. Unless we drink it during your visit, it’s going to go on the wine rack, and next time we have to bring a bottle of wine somewhere, it’s very likely to be regifted. I prefer white or champagne, and Dave isn’t that crazy for wine in the first place. But I’ll put it in a really nice fabric sleeve that the recipient can use next time she brings a bottle of wine to someone. I even won’t be offended if the sleeve ends up coming back to me someday. It’s what’s in the bottle that matters
Photo albums and some photo frames. These make great dog show trophies and I’m always stockpiling them.
Books we already have or will never read. Luckily most folks that bought my son “On the day you were born” didn’t write an inscription.
During the holidays, boxed chocolates. It comes into the house, it goes out as fast as we possibly can. We still have some chocolates up in Vermont from Christmas 2007 that we will never eat.
Duplicates. More than one of the same toy or knick knack or whatever. The dupe goes in the gift closet.
You have to truly believe that the recipient will like the item. Otherwise, you are just passing on your junk. If it’s really that horrible, put it in the basement. It will either break, get lost or your kids will find it and think it’s a treasure.
The item should be new and unused. Want to give something that you’ve used? By all means, but it’s a wee bit tacky to wrap it up and present it as new. Just give it already. Note: this does not mean you can’t find lovely gifts for family and friends at flea markets and yard sales. I only deplore the practice when it’s your used item and you are implicitly passing it off as new. Not good.
Think long and hard about regifting anything received from your immediate family. Especially your young children. No matter how kitschy. Gifts from your young children are sacrosanct. As they get older, and begin to appreciate the benefits of regifting, the situation changes. Be honest though. Tell them beforehand. Even if they don’t live with you, they might come to visit and notice the absence of whatever it is.
As noted in the outset, keep track of who you received the item from and when. That way you won’t regift it to the original giver or in the presence of the original giver.
What was the most awful gift you’ve ever received? Did you regift it? The above-pictured chicken lamp was actually a dog show trophy we won years ago, and it still makes me shake my head. It had to be a regift. There’s no other explanation for a chicken lamp as a conformation dog show trophy.
The folks at JCPenney, in conjunction with their Doghouse campaign, have given me a $100 gift card to award to one of my readers. All you have to do is tell us about the worst gift you ever gave or received. I’ll even take third-party stories, as in “my friend once…” On a post on your blog or here in the comments, either is fine. Just be sure to leave a comment on this post or on my original post, which has more details about the contest and Penney’s campaign. My brother is the judge. Contest ends midnight EST February 7th. All the usual applies, void where prohibited, etc. etc.