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Regift if you must, but keep it classy

December 2011

Is it rude or wrong to regift? It used to be. Regifting has gotten a bad rap, since it was thought of only as getting rid of something you don’t want, didn’t like or didn’t need. However, you can think of it as green giving.

Regifting has gained in popularity since comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s show coined the term in 1995. The increasing popularity of the word and of people buying at online auctions has made the phenomenon of regifting more acceptable. More than half of adults recently surveyed by Money Management International found regifting acceptable.

Regifting rules

 The item should be brand new. Not last year’s brand new—this year’s brand new. It should be unopened, never played with, never worn, washed or tried out. It should be in its original, undamaged packaging. All the bits and pieces must be intact, including the guarantee. If the recipient returns it to the store, he should not be told, “We haven’t carried that model for years.”

 Some people feel you should not regift items someone has hand-made for you, because they came from the heart.

But if someone knitted you an afghan and if you never used it, and it doesn’t match your decor, I don’t think it hurts to have a hand-made thing passed to someone who could really enjoy it. You do, however, have to consider the hurt feelings of the maker if it were discovered.

 Make sure the person who gave you the gift doesn’t know (or know of ) the person receiving the gift. If it is an uncommon item that could easily be identified, you shouldn’t regift it unless the receiver is on another planet. The more unusual the item, the greater distance there should be between the giver and the regiftee.

 Always be sure you have removed any original gift tags or cards. You must take the time to rewrap the gift and attach new bows or ribbons.

 What do you do with the horrible things you have received and would love to get rid of? Someone’s horror could be another person’s love. Some people say that unless the item is something you would actually buy the recipient, you shouldn’t give it to them—that a gift is a reflection of your taste. I think you have to consider the taste of the person getting it rather than only your taste. It is a gift for them.

 Should you ever let them know it is a regift? If you’re comfortable with it and you know the person getting it is comfortable with it, there’s no problem. Perhaps you are passing down a family heirloom to another family member—a ring or a piece of silverplate or china? Then it becomes a very special gift.

 The 10 most popular regifted items are: alcohol, gift cards, fruitcake, candles, cookbooks, jewelry, picture frames, gift baskets, housewares and clothing.

Only you can decide whether to regift. The basis of good manners is respect and consideration for others.

Think through the circumstances and if in doubt, don’t do it.

Here’s the script snippet where regift was used in that Seinfeld episode (regifter was used earlier in the show; note, as well, yet another new word: degift):

George: The wedding is off. Now you can go to the Super Bowl.

Jerry: I can’t call Tim Whatley and ask for the tickets back.

George: You just gave them to him two days ago, he’s gotta give you a grace period.

Jerry: Are you even vaguely familiar with the concept of giving? There’s no grace period.

George: Well, didn’t he regift the label maker?

Jerry: Possibly.

George: Well, if he can regift, why can’t you degift?

Jerry: You may have a point.

George: I have a point, I have a point.



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