Let’s face it: each holiday, we all get that one special gift that we just can’t stand.
Perhaps it’s a brightly-colored sweater that, while it seems too harsh to say ugly, we’ll call beautifully deficient. Or maybe it’s a strongly-scented candle that leaves your nose in a fit. We smile and say “Thank you” for the generosity, all the while envisioning the perfect place to stash it in the basement, never to be seen again until you move.
But what if your dad’s wacky sister just happens to love burning candles, and her nose isn’t quite as sensitive as yours? Her birthday is next month, you haven’t bought anything yet and money is a little tight after all the holiday shopping.
The light bulb that just flicked on in your mind represents the practice known as “regifting.” While receiving a gift you may not use is unfortunate, the gift could be passed along if it is more appropriate for someone you know.
But what’s OK to regift, and what’s better kept at home? Here are a few helpful hints to make this year’s holiday season more productive, as well as avoiding unnecessary embarrassment:
- Be aware of the trail. Your wacky aunt just happens to love your candle and shows it to everyone she knows, including your grandmother – who initially gave it to you. It’s OK to regift, but not if it hurts feelings. Keep a list handy just in case (or a spreadsheet or flowchart, if necessary!).
- When you regift, at least rewrap. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy. Part of the joy of giving a gift is the presentation itself. And used wrapping paper sticks out like a sore thumb, especially if you forget to remove the “To/From” sticker. Oops. Be safe. Rewrap.
- Unlike wine, regifts are worse when aged. Wearing a shirt a handful of times and deciding to regift it is a no-no. Aside from the fact that it’s worn, you risk hurting feelings if the item’s already been noticed. Same goes with knick-knacks that have sat around the house for a while, or a partially-used gift card!
- Some gifts work, and some do not. Hand-made items do not make the cut for regiftable ideas. It screams suspicion and lack of effort. One-of-a-kind gifts and monogrammed items should also be avoided. Some that work? Inexpensive (and tasteful) jewelry, new household items (anyone need a toaster?), and appropriate figurines (I know a few people who collect snowmen, for instance) are all qualified candidates.
- Some ideas are best kept secret. A gift well-received can quickly turn sour if the recipient finds out there was no thought put into it. It’s acceptable to regift, but let’s not broadcast it.
Regifting also can help in a jam when you receive an unexpected gift from someone that you didn’t shop for. When done right, it can be a season to remember. If not, I’d make alternative holiday plans the following year. Follow the rules, follow your instincts and have a great holiday season!
What’s the most memorable item you ever regifted?