The etiquette of regifting
When I was 7 years old, spending Christmas at Grandma's house, I created a treasure hunt for my cousins. The treasure consisted of some of the presents Santa had brought just that morning. When Grandma realised I was giving away gifts I had just received, she was furious. She told me I was ungrateful and I had hurt the feelings of the people who had so generously given me gifts. This was one of the only times in her ninety years that I saw my Grandma get mad.
There's no question that regifting is a touchy subject. So, what should you do if someone gives you a gift that doesn't fit, or that doesn't suit you or your home? What if you already have something just like it? What if you love it but you just know you will never use it? Should you just keep it forever?
It's now March and, if you haven't used that Christmas present yet, the chances are you never will. Regifting, if done tactfully and thoughtfully, can be win-win-win. You get rid of stuff that is cluttering up your home and not bringing you joy. The gift recipient gets something that they (hopefully) want and will enjoy. And the environment wins because we save resources and waste by not buying new.
And there are signs that regifting is becoming more socially acceptable. A CNN article from 2014 suggested that three in four American found regifting socially acceptable and that the average American regifted 4 presents a year. And companies like eBay are marketing national re-gifting days or weeks during the festive period.
So, how should you do it? Tips for successful regifting from etiquette experts:
- Don't regift within the same social circle suggests Elaine Swann. You don't want to hurt the feelings of the original gift giver. However, if you do get caught regifting, be honest about it. It might feel embarrassing but "just address it, explain why you thought they would like it and change the subject," said Swann.
- Wait an appropriate length of time so the gift isn't fresh in the giver's mind suggests Patrice Washington, author of "Real Money Answers for Every Woman". This also gives you a chance to see if it's something you might actually use.
- Imagine the re-gift is a new gift. It should be something you think the recipient would like. It should be unused and in the original packaging. And, you should always take the time to rewrap it , according to Washington.
My personal recommendation is to create a box where you place gifts that you can't or won't use. Make a note of who gave you the gift and when, perhaps on a post-it note. When birthdays and holidays come around, check your gift box for something your friends or family will love before you buy something new. Create a regifting win-win-win.