When is it Okay to Re-gift?

We’ve all done it or, at least, we’ve all wanted to do it. It’s just as likely that a certain level of guilt accompanied the thought or the action. Re-gifting, the practice of passing along an unwanted gift to a future recipient on your holiday gift list, is often viewed as a socially unacceptable practice. Perhaps the idea that no thought or effort went into the gift giving procedure gives the appearance that the giver cares less about the recipient than about completing the arduous task of holiday gift shopping. Or, perhaps, a level of impending shame at being discovered makes the idea of re-gifting repugnant.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A gift, as we’ve all been raised to believe, is all about the thought that went into it, not the monetary value or the herculean effort it took to procure it. Remember, the person who gave the gift to you thought enough of you to make a selection, albeit inappropriate for whatever reason. Still, you may need to thoughtfully pass this gift along.

In this ecologically aware society, the concept of recycling and “going green” is evident in every aspect of our world. Think of it as being more socially unacceptable to waste a gift than to find an appropriate home for it. The classic movie DVD you received from a relative may not have a place in your contemporary movie collection. It may, however, be welcomed with open arms by your nostalgic brother-in-law. You have saved time, energy and resources by re-gifting and you still come out looking like a thoughtful gift giver.

It always embarrassing to have someone suspect you thought so little of their gift that you wanted to pass it off to someone else at the first opportunity. Regardless of your best intentions, you still don’t want to make Aunt Tillie feel bad about the matching scarf and gloves she so thoughtfully selected to match your new winter coat. Re-gifting, as much as it may be necessary and beneficial, should still be a practice kept close to the chest. Make sure you know where a gift originated before you re-gift to avoid giving it back to someone who knows the original giver. Make equally as sure that the new recipient is in no way associated with the original giver. A re-gift to a co-worker or a gift to charity is often a good option here.

Finally, perhaps the best option of all when it comes to re-gifting is the concept of full disclosure. Let’s be honest here. We have all received stuff we don’t want, need or intend to use. This holiday season, host a re-gifting party. The idea is that everyone arrives with a gift they neither want nor need. They can either redirect this gift to a specific person at the party or the gifts can go into a grab bag system and everyone who brings a gift gets to select a gift. Of course, odds are that the latest gift received will also be something no one wants or needs. This could be the start of a whole new holiday tradition in your circle of friends and relatives. Maybe someday you will actually receive something at the re-gifting party you can actually use.