The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.

To Re-gift or Not to Re-gift – Tacky or Tasteful?


For those of you that may not know me well, I LOVE giving the perfect gift. I’m a great gift giver.  There I’ve said it.
Not one to wait until two weeks before Christmas, I’m on the hunt all year-long.  I save potential and “assigned” gifts in a special place in my home, which I affectionately call the Treasure Drawer. (Maybe a future company name for me?) But I digress.

My approach is simple.  I love trying to get in to the psyche of the recipient, by watching their habits and products they use, asking inquiring questions (a list) and just, well, knowing them.  I strive to get them something that they will really appreciate and use, or something that will make them smile.  However for some of us, gift buying and gift giving is just stressful.  There are the crowds, the cost, the not knowing what to give, when to give, never mind who exactly should get a gift. The list goes on.

This brings me to the topic of re-gifting.  On a recent Boston Public Radio show, (listen to the 12/12/14 podcast here (about 41 mins in), the hosts, Jim & Margery, discussed whether it was right or wrong to re-gift.

The term re-gifting became popular after a Seinfeld episode on etiquette, after Jerry receives a label maker that Elaine had gifted to a friend Regift Image 1
(Check out this clip courtesy You Tube/NBC/Seinfeld).

There’s now even a “national” Re-gifting day! It’s designated as the 3rd Thursday in December!

Jim shared that 62% of people re-gift at the holidays, and almost 20% were for it. These findings greatly surprised me.

Candidly I’m just not a fan of re-gifting, nor would I consider it for my friends and family.  I appreciate them too much to do so.  However, there were many callers who were all for it and thought of it as recycling. Some even had fun family traditions revolving around a “treasured” re-gifted gift, or made a game of re-gifting items to younger siblings to keep the item in the family vs. throwing it out.  Still the idea makes me uncomfortable.

It’s not that I want to pay exorbitant prices for new and shiny things, I cannot.  My view is that I put a lot of thought in to the gift I’m purchasing or often making for him or her.  Gift giving is a passion and something that I really enjoy doing. To cast another’s less liked gift on to another just doesn’t feel right to me. It cheapens the experience, and perhaps how I may be seen in the eyes of the recipient.  And horrors, what would happen if they found out?!

What do you think – Take my poll:

If I could, I’d ban re-gifting.  Here are 5 better ideas and approaches to taking some stress out of gift giving and how avoid the re-gifted gift.

  1. Identify whom to give gifts to/Create a List
    • Draw names if your family is large. You only need to buy a gift for the name you select. (Think Secret Santa)
    • Only buy for the children in your family – adults forgo gifts. (Not a favorite as an adult – but this is just one option you can choose from.)
  2. Create/Set a budget
    • Agree to a set limit on how much each person can spend per person or per gift.
    • Create a set # of gifts one can receive.
  3. Poke around your local thrift store, Goodwill, or consignment shop.
    There are many gently used/loved items that could make an ideal gift for a friend or loved one
  4. Go to holiday (or summer if you’re an early shopper) flea markets and craft fairs
    You can find some truly unique gifts and or a great vintage find that you can re-purpose (see make your own #5)
  5. Make your Own Gift – a little ingenuity goes a long way
    • Food items, like cookies, vinegar, flavored salts and oils are great option. (Here’s a lemon infused oil from The Splendid Table.)
    • Sachets for a drawer – Simple ones can be made from a vintage handkerchief,  in which you can insert a hotel-size bar of soap, lavender, or even Cedar scraps/cage liner you find in a pet store, (This last option is inexpensive, but highly effective at keeping moths at bay!) and simply tie with a bow.
    • Ornaments made from used vitamin bottles, pop sickle sticks or pipe cleaners (I made this one), each can become a treasured favorite on the tree year-after-year.)
      • Also check out this great blog I follow, May Richer Fuller Be. Chaney just posted a 12 Days of homemade ornaments series – here are her 12 favorite picks!

As an aside, my research also found that 40% of office gifts are re-gifted presents.  This unfortunately, I could wrap my hands around, as I’ve found many office gift-exchanges are forced encouraged in the work place.  Since we often may not always like our fellow co-workers, why would we go to a lot of trouble to buy them the “perfect gift” versus foist one we’ve received but didn’t like on him or her instead. 

 I’d love to hear your feedback about re-gifting or ideas about alternatives to re-gifting.

Do you think re-gifting is unfair? Does it express laziness, or does it make you more environmentally friendly?  
Have you Re-gifted?  Were you caught?   If you haven’t ever re-gifted, why not? Is there ever a time you feel it’s appropriate?  Do you think that re-gifting indicates that you don’t appreciate the person enough (either the recipient of re-gift or the one whom you received the gift from in the first place?)

2 thoughts on “To Re-gift or Not to Re-gift – Tacky or Tasteful?

  1. I’m totally in favor of re-gifting, but only items that I like. For instance, I recently bought a lovely scarf, which after two years, I realize I’m never going to wear. I like the scarf very much and don’t want it to sit in a drawer forever. Therefore, I’m going to give it to someone who I like at work for our Secret Santa tradition.


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