The Art of the Regift

I’m a regifter. I admit it. I think it’s very difficult to not regift, only because I receive a lot of very nice gifts (usually from people who don’t know me well) that aren’t necessarily my taste and that I know someone else would like to have. And such is the way of the regift.

I think regifting gets a bad rap because of those who don’t do it well. For example, the paper mache snowman figurine given to me this year by a coworker is not going to be regifted. In fact, it probably won’t even make it inside the house. Likewise for the plaster snowman family that I received a few years ago from a coworker at a different job. I can’t imagine anyone out there really would want it, unless they happen to be avid snowman figure collectors (of which I know of none). So, maybe it’s an Ebay item, instead. For a penny.

No, the art of the regift is about passing along a nice (this is the critical piece) gift to someone who would enjoy it at least as much – but hopefully more – than you would. Even better is if said gift is actually something you know someone else has expressed an interest in having. For example, a few years ago, I received a Best Buy gift card as a thank you for a job well done. It was a very nice gift, and for a decent amount, too (more than $50). But I have little need to go to Best Buy, and I don’t often go there when I need something they sell, anyway… so it got regifted. And the recipient was pleased as punch. That’s how to properly regift.

So, to recap:

DON’T regift tchotchki items unless the recipient actually collects tchotchki. It’s painfully obvious that it’s a regift, so save yourself the embarrassment of listening to the polite (but strained) thank yous and put it up on Ebay instead. Or, better yet, submit it for a White Elephant present.

DON’T forget to take out any packaging, cards, notes, or any other items that blatantly call you out as a regifter. Cute Husband’s old roommates received a very nice bar set for their wedding, only to find a card from the sender’s Great Uncle So-and-So in the packaging. Oops.

DON’T regift to someone in the same circle as the giver – and especially not to someone who was there when you initially opened the present that you now plan to regift. I like to break up my associates into groups: I’ve got Family (F), Close Friends from Home (CFH), Current Co-Workers (CCW), and Close Friends in Florida (CFF). Now, because F is in close proximity to CFH, I won’t regift between those groups. But I can regift something from F to CFF, or from CFH to CCW, or even from CFF to CCW. But regifting within any one group is a definite no-no.

DO include something new with your regift. Even if you’re already regifting a very nice, very expensive something, it wouldn’t hurt to include an additional touch. I think I paired the Best Buy gift card in my above example with a video game. The art of the regift is about beingfrugal and thus able to give more, not about being cheap.

DO carefully pair the intended recipient with the item you wish to regift. Someone who is just learning to knit, for example, would be the perfect recipient for a book on knitting that you received from someone who didn’t realize that you’re an expert knitter. (I’m not a knitter; this is truly an example. And though I’ve scrapbooked for ages, I would be hard-pressed to part with any of my idea books.)

DO take good care of the items you plan to eventually regift. My mother was an expert at this. She would carefully unwrap something, dutifully write the thank you card, then take the gift and store it in our hallway closet (where she kept all the last-minute presents for surprise visitors). We always had back-up presents stashed, all boxed and in pristine condition, and no one ever knew they were regifts. Or, at least, no one ever let on that they knew. I remember one Christmas when some people came over to the house unexpectedly, and Mom brought out all these presents for everyone – wrapped and all – as though she had known all along that they were coming. That was the year I gained a whole new appreciation for the Post-It note.

By the way, if you’re wondering if you’ve ever received a regift from me, you probably have. I’m an equal opportunity regifter.

But I also make it a point to not regift crap.

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