Story & Photos by John Rothwell – Collegiate Staff
With the holiday season fast approaching, the time for exchanging gifts is also near and with it, the opportunity to give someone a gift that was previously received from someone else, better known as “regifting”.
Regifting, a fairly new word, was first mentioned in a 1995 episode of Seinfeld. Since the airing and thanks to the Internet, regifting has become a trend that is now seen as acceptable.
So much so that many etiquette experts devote time to publishing rules for regifting.
One such person is Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert author and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. Gottsman has a page on her website devoted to the do’s and don’ts of regifting.
I personally do not regift. Most of my unwanted and non-necessity gifts end up in the abyss of a closet, or buried deep on a shelf until a late spring house cleaning lets them take a trip to Goodwill or my wife-sponsored garage sale.
The list on the next page explains the do’s and don’ts but it does not answer the who are these people and why do they regift .
“People who regift are not cheap, they are respectful and caring individuals that are conscious of the environment and want other people to enjoy something that they cannot use,” Gottsman said.
DO use good judgment. You may not like a gift someone gave you, but your first priority is “To Do No Harm.” Ask yourself if the other person will notice if you are not using it, wearing it, or serving food on it at your dinner table, before placing it in your re-gift pile.
DON’T regift a valuable or sentimental family heirloom. Even though it may not be an expensive item, if your family member gives you something that is meant to stay in the family, like a piece of old costume jewelry or an antique platter, it’s important to be respectful of the gift. Put it away someplace safe and bring it out as a conversation piece from time to time.
DO keep gifting honest. When you want to give someone a gift that doesn’t work for you, let them know it’s not an original gift, but you know they are fans of the particular item and you would love for them to have it. If they refuse, don’t force the issue. They may not want it either.
DON’T regift “ugly.” If the gift can be mistaken for a gag gift or white elephant gift, don’t pass it along to a friend or family member. Also, don’t use it at a white elephant party where the host may be the original giver.
DO put a sticky note on potential regifts. Before placing something in your gift closet, make a quick note, reminding you who gave the gift and the year. Do a thorough check to ensure it is in good condition before placing it on the shelf. Don’t gift something that is not in the original box.
DON’T regift anything with company logos or gift with purchase samples. Promotional gifts that have a logo or company name attached can come across as a thoughtless or appear as an afterthought. Most cosmetic gifts with purchase are never your color or favorite scent anyways, and chances are they won’t be for the person receiving it as a regift either!
DO host or attend regift parties with caution. The true goal of a re-gifting party IS NOT to make fun of anyone, or to make someone feel bad. It’s to recycle perfectly good items that may not work for one person, but will be someone else’s treasure. It can be a spin on a white elephant party to incorporate a festive holiday feel. If you have any suspicion the original giver might be at the party, the gift should be held, and given a year later, in a different circle of friends. Give the gift giver some time to forget what they gave you!
DON’T assume a gift card is a good regift. It may expire within a few months, and it may not be fully loaded. Call the number on the back of the card to double check.
DON’T feel pressured to regift in an emergency. Often we frantically pull out a regift when someone surprises us with a present and we need a quick “turn around” gift. It’s better to give nothing at all than to frantically gift an item that is not well thought out.
DO donate to charity. An alternative to regifting is donating a perfectly good item to a local charity. A kitchen appliance, sweater, or scarf may not work for you, but someone in need will be appreciative your holiday gesture. I am sending my new, and gently used items to Goodwill this season.