HOW TO: REGIFT
21st December 2012
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that less than perfect presents happen. But is it ever ok to give an unwanted gift to someone else? Aka a ‘regift’? Understandably some people are very strongly against it – it’s never a nice thought that something you put your heart and soul into choosing or making might be given away to someone else. But at this time of the year, when everyone is frantically trying to buy their loved ones (including your cousin’s new boyfriend you’ve only met once) gifts, regifting can for some be a (questionable and yet) completely necessary modus operandi. Maybe you were given something you would never in a million years use (and you don’t want it to sit unused or end up in landfill the next week), or perhaps you’ve run out of time to get everyone presents and are willing to forego the enjoyment of a good gift recieved in order to give it to someone else – regifting happens. And in defense of the giver, because of people’s different tastes, buying gifts can be incredibly difficult. Although I love giving (and recieving gifts), I’m sure there’ve been times when I’ve given someone a gift they were ‘meh’ about. But would I care if that gift was given away? On that I’m not entirely sure – I like to think my gifts are so amazing that no one would want take it out from under their pillow let alone give it away, but in reality this probably isn’t always the case.
We could discuss the moral issues all day if we wanted, but the reality is that it does happen. So if you have to do it this year, do it right:
Remove the evidence: Ok so this is the topic of lecture one, day one in Regifting 101 – if you plan on regifting, make sure you remove all traces of the person who gave it to you to start with. That means re-wrapping and a new card (duh!). Make sure you also check whether the original giver has left any little surprises for you within the gift – a sweet note amongst the pages of a book would have brought a smile to your face had you had a chance to read that Dan Brown novel, but will very much confuse the regiftee.
Social Media: It goes without saying that you should never regift to a person who knows the original giver. But these days it’s even more complicated. A few years ago you could have regifted an item to a friend twice removed from the original giver and have been fairly comfortable that the original giver would never have found out. But unfortunately due to social media, you never know if the regiftee will instagram/pin/facebook/weibo your regift with something along the lines of #thanksgeneva #bestfriendever #lovemynewhairclips, only to have the person who gave them to you originally see that post (naturally they follow each other on instagram but don’t one another) and be all #wtf #coincidenceithinknot and you’ll be pretty much be like #ohcrap. When in doubt, air on the side of caution in terms of your friend’s circles and if you have to, regift to people who are generally aren’t involved in the online world. That friend of yours who doesn’t believe in social media will be getting a pile of regifts this year won’t they?
Perishables: The problem with regifting is that it stays around like a bad smell, for years and years or until the item you regifted has been thrown away. The lifetime of that jewelry box is quite a long time, and you never know when the original giver and recipient number 2 might cross paths and put two and two together. ‘omg i love your jewelry box’ ‘thanks, geneva gave it to me’ ‘oh funny that i gave the same one to her’ ‘…..’. So when you’re looking around the house for something to give the surprise guest who just dropped in to give you your gift (wtf I didn’t know we were doing presents!), something perishable is always good for its short lifetime. Everyone loves getting flowers, wine and chocolates, and as a regift you’ll know that the evidence will be gone in a few days. But because perishables are so fresh in the givers mind (the aroma from the bunch of lilies having not left their car yet), once again be careful about who you give them to.
The more nondescript the better: Regifting someone a really amazing gift can be dangerous, because these sorts of presents are often the subject of conversation within groups of friends and at this point it’s possible to get caught out. ‘Omg did you hear about the gorgeous porcelaine jewelry cake stand that Vanessa gave to her work friend Lou? So Cute!’ ‘Hmmm no but it sounds mighty similar to the one I made for Vanessa’ ‘….’. So when regifting, stick to giving nice presents but not ones overly worth mentioning. A bottle of Bodyshop paw paw bath gel? Smells delicious and also something people are unlikely to discuss at length – you can put that down as a successful regift.
Keep it at home: Regifting any item that gets worn can be dangerous too – because there’s always the likelihood that the original giver sees the regiftee in the street and is like ‘those earrings are the same as the ones I gave geneva’ blah blah you get where I’m going here. But the issue is that more often that not people give jewelry and other wearable items without being sure of the taste of the receiver, and admittedly it’s hard to hit the nail on the head here, thus leading to lots of unwanted gift. Aunts, cousins and other people outside your circles should receive these pieces.
Lifetime of a gift: Never, ever attempt to give someone a gift they gave you last year. I’ve heard of this happening (not naming any names) where the receiver held onto an unwanted gift and regifted it the next year, only to regift to the original giver. Biggest faux pas possible.
So we’ve established that regifting happens and how to do it properly. And now I’d love to hear your thoughts! Is regifting modern day necessity or an act of laziness? Feel free to post anonymously and tell me about times you might have regifted/had your present regifted/received a regifted item.