Regifting: A Simple How-To Guide
We’ve all been there. You open a present with giddy anticipation, ripping the gift wrap away like a 10 year old on a sugar high. And then, as you open the box and peek inside, your brain searches for a way to act really happy…because the gift you have received is just, well, awful. And when the dust settles and the event is over, it’s time to start thinking about regifting. But be careful…there are rules to follow. (See also: How to Deal With Unwanted Gifts)
Some people see a big stigma attached to regifting. Personally, I think it’s fine if you follow a few simple guidelines. You don’t want to hurt the feelings of the person who gave you the gift, or the person who gets the regifted item. But look at the alternatives; you can just let the offending item rot in your basement or garage; you can give it to charity; or you can put it out with the trash. So if you know someone who would really like the gift that just didn’t do it for you, where’s the harm?
I’ve combined my own rules with some research I did online and at my local library (yes, there are books and news stories on this…I kid you not). Generally, there seem to be some major guidelines that regifters follow to ensure everyone is happy. Here’s what I have uncovered. (See also: How to Avoid Awkward Moments at White Elephant Parties)
1. Mum's the Word
It’s amazing how often people have made it quite clear that I was receiving a gift that was from their reject pile. Sure, they dressed it up nice enough, with language like “I just would never have used this cool gadget but I know how much you need one.” It still makes you feel like you’re getting crappy old hand-me-downs. Of course, if someone’s giving me a brand new, state-of-the-art laptop or cool pair of sunglasses, my hurt feelings fly out of the window. But if it’s a nasty crystal picture frame or a hideous painting, I’d rather not know you hated it as well. Ignorance is bliss.
2. Beware the Previously Regifted Gift
Sometimes you’ll receive a gift that doesn’t quite feel right. Your Spidey Sense will tingle and you’ll realize, perhaps after some investigation, that this gift has already been through the regifting process. Now you’ve got problems. The last thing you want is for the gift to end up back in the hands of the person who originally gave it; not only will you look embarrassed, so will the person who gave it to you. And we don’t want friendships strained. My best advice…if in doubt, regifting is out. (See also: Why Making Friends Is Good for You)
3. Keep Records
When you receive a gift that is destined to be a gift once again, label it as soon as you can with the name of the person who gave it to you, and when they gave it to you. This is a simple habit to get into, but an essential one for regifting. Log items in the same way you would to make thank you cards for wedding presents and baby shower gifts.
4. Keep Original Packaging
A dead giveaway for a regift are opened packaging or missing pieces. Even if you’ve never used it, a coffee machine or spanky new DVD player is less impressive when something's rattling around inside the box (because you couldn't put stuff back in just right). Generally, if the packaging has gone bye-bye, so has your chance of regifting the item.
5. Some Gifts Cannot Be Regifted
Beware of the following gifts you're considering regifting: books that have no tie to the person you’re giving it to; CDs or DVDs that are equally random, obscure or awful; clothing without the tags; shoes or sneakers (unless they’re spot on for both size AND style); useless appliances (come on, who really wants a “Clapper?”) If you feel a little uncomfortable or guilty about regifting any item, probably best not to do it. Of course, if you really don’t like the person you’re giving it to, but have to give a gift (like those Secret Santa deals) I’ll look the other way as you pass on a crappy DVD movie with a random autobiography taped to it.
6. Used Items Are Out
Sorry, but a sweater you’ve only worn a few times is not a regifter, even if you do have all the tags and the original gift box. Same goes for all other clothing, most appliances, anything in fact that you can get actual "mileage" out of. Gift cards are also included here. It doesn’t matter if you only used $5 of a $30 card, that’s just tacky.
7. Don't Wait Too Long
Time may be a great healer, but it doesn’t really do the regifter any favors. The older the brand new item becomes, the more obvious it becomes that this is a regift. If you can no longer find the product in the stores, if the packaging has been updated or if the company that made it went out of business ages ago, you’re stuck with that item. By all means try to sell it or give it to charity, but as a regift it stinks of “here’s an old thing I found in my basement, but hey, it’s never been used!”
8. There’s Always Craigslist or eBay.
The web has opened up a world of choices to regifters. Now, if an item does go beyond its ‘”regift date” or has been gently used, there’s the option of the free classified ads on Craigslist, or the wider reach of eBay. In some instances the item you have for sale could now be a collectors item and you could get back more money for it than it was originally worth. This is also a great way to attack the idea of regifting if you’re just against it in principle. Simply sell an unwanted gift to raise money for a brand new gift for that special someone in your life. You’re happy, they’re happy, and the person who originally gave you that gift…well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, right? (See also: Secrets of Successful Craigslist Sellers)
To sum up, regifting is a great way to pass on a gift if you’re watching your budget or want to see an unwanted gift go to someone who could genuinely use it. And as my mum and dad always told me, it’s the thought that counts anyway. As long as it’s done with someone else in mind, I don’t see the harm. Better to do that than throw it away or mindlessly chuck it in the spring-cleaning bag for Goodwill.
What other regifting rules would you add to this list?