Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's The Thought That Counts

I posted on Facebook that I was working on a post about a “very controversial topic” and I meant it.  In asking questions of friends and family, never have I received more emphatic and emotionally charged responses than when I mentioned this topic: REGIFTING.

Merriam-Webster defines regift this way: “to give a gift that was previously received from someone else.” M-W also notes the first known use of the word in 1995, which is when “The Label Maker” episode of Seinfeld first aired (Season 6).  In this episode, Jerry is unable to use his two SuperBowl tickets so he gives them to Tim Whatley.  Tim sends Jerry a label maker as a thank you gift.  When Elaine sees the label maker at Jerry’s, she suspects that it is the same one she gave Whatley as a Christmas gift and calls him a “regifter.”

In these fiscally challenging times, regifting has gained some momentum.  The Emily Post “Etipedia” (a contraction of etiquette and encyclopedia) site says it is acceptable to regift under certain circumstances. Yet many people I spoke to remain VEHEMENTLY opposed to it.  They seem to feel that the regifter is thoughtless or cheap or both.

I asked my hairdresser about regifting while getting my hair done recently.  “You wanna know about regifting? Come here at Christmastime.  This shop is dead-end gift headquarters.”  She noted the odd and “mismatched” gifts she and her colleagues had received: giftcards (valid) but clearly leftover from other holidays (birthday themed, for example), food items past expiration dates, boxes with tiny remnants of the original gift-wrap visible, items in time-worn boxes, etc.
It’s interesting to note that many of the people in the salon that I questioned felt that receiving a re-gifted item, as long as it was new, in good condition, and not expired, was okay.  However, these same people swore that they themselves would NEVER regift something.
Here’s my take on re-gifting.....  I think it’s perfectly acceptable under certain circumstances:
  1. The gift is BRAND NEW and doesn’t look like it’s been sitting in your attic for years
  2. It’s something you think the recipient will really like (that is, you’re not giving it just for the sake of having something to give)
  3. It’s not something hand-crafted (a sweater knit by the original gifter) or personalized in any way (monogramed, for example)
  4. It is not expired in any way or otherwise outdated
I have regifted in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.  My family is very blessed.  Birthdays and Christmas often result in excessive amounts of “stuff” in my house.  “Stuff” that is of good quality, thoughtful, and age appropriate for my kids.  Why do I regift it? Because there are only so many board games my children can play with, only so many shirts or dresses they can wear, etc.  Regifting is forward-thinking, recycling.  It’s “green.”
Before you anti-regifters start shouting at me, consider this: how many times have you received a brand-new but inappropriate and thoughtless gift??? One Christmas my mother received a blouse as a gift.  It was brand new, tags attached, but not my mother’s taste. Thoughtfully enough, the gift-giver included a gift receipt.  My mother went to the store to return or exchange the blouse.  When she presented the clerk the gift receipt, she was informed that the value of the blouse was $1.99.  And that was WITH the gift receipt.  My mother is 65+ and the store the blouse was purchased from is frequented by women 25 - 40ish.  So the giver in this situation was both cheap and thoughtless and the gift was still brand new.
What do you think? What is your best/worst regifting story?