Tis the season… to receive Secret Santa gifts that have no utility whatsoever.
So, what do people do when that happens? They regift! They pass it on to someone else under that conception that one man’s trash, another man’s treasure. It’s a centuries-old tradition so deep within our culture that it’s been time and again depicted on TV shows and movies. On “Mixed Nuts”, a Nora Ephron movie from 1994, starring Steve Martin and a fabulous cast – with Adam Sandler in one of his earliest roles – most of the story revolves around just that: a that’s constantly regifted from one character to another.
While it’s unpleasant to be on the receiving end of a regift, it’s more than understandable whenever someone is regifting. However, there are a few etiquettes that regifters must abide to, so we are here to put some order to regifting.
This is the first rule of regifting, and you must never break it: don’t regift to the original giver. If your sister-in-law gave you something you did not like, do not regift her next Holiday! It will look as if you are doing it out of spite, even if you didn’t intentionally do it. Regifting is only allowed when it’s “From: A, To: B”
A good way not to break this rule is storing the gifts you don’t like with a name tag saying whoever gave it to you. Then, assigning to someone else from a different group. This is very important! It’s not enough to *not* regift your sister-in-law, but pass it on to your brother! She will notice and be sad. You need to pass it on to someone, say, in your work, in your school… somewhere different, out of reach from the original giver of that present!
Also, time is your friend. If you can, avoid passing it on during the same Holiday. For instance, if you can regift a Christmas present on the following July for whoever’s birthday: excellent! If you can, don’t even repeat the same Holiday: for instance; you won something on 2018’s Xmas and you kept it until 2019’s Xmas to regift. The fact that you are giving it to someone else on the same holiday might bring back buried memories and someone will say “Didn’t X give this exact gift last year?!”. If you regift on different occasions, it will make it harder for people to call it a regift.
One other guideline about the process is: do not show off. There’s nothing to be proud of the act of regifting, so keep it quiet. Pass it on to someone else but don’t become loud about it, don’t overcompensate, create stories about it or show it to everyone. We regift out of convenience because the present has no use for us, so we give it to someone who it does serve use. And also because we don’t have money to buy new things, so we re-utilize and avoid letting things literally go to waste. Regifting is a good act but done in a low key manner. If you boast about it people might find out that it’s a regift and you will look like an Uncle Scrooge kind of fellow who can’t even spend a dime on a friend’s/family’s gift – and still boasts about it. Be humble; don’t show off.
Best Gifts for Regifting
Perfume. All boxed, non-perishable gifts are great for regifting. There are just two things you should be on the lookout for regarding perfumes. One is that some people might be allergic to a number of indoor allergies and the perfume might work with those allergies and create a big mess for the person. And the second one is just a matter of male/female fragrance. Depending on who you pass it on to, it might be weird. Imagine giving Grandma a “Macho Lumberjack 3000” fragrance? Also, to make it fairer, if you are picky with scents and you’re feeling you’re not going to like the smell, go to a local perfume store and ask to test that perfume instead of opening the box you got. It will make the present look newer. Don’t use once or twice and then pass it on.
Wine/Alcoholic beverages. Well, to be honest, we don’t understand why regifting those in the first place. Even if you don’t drink it yourself, every house needs to have some home bar essentials to serve to their guests. Even if it’s a too unique of a drink, every home bar benefits of that exotic wild card from time to time. But anyways, you do you. We’re sure the person will be glad to receive this one.
Books. Say you already read that one and it’s not a collectors edition or anything… you could try to go to the bookstore and exchange it for another book you’d like to read. We all need to read more! But anyways, if you must regift, books are great too. Just, again, watch out not to give a Kama Sutra-like book for Grandma. Poor Grandma and your badly thought-out gifts, man. Seriously. Now, this is of the utmost importance when regifting a book: inspect for written messages on the first pages! It’s very common to write something like “hope you like this book, Grandpa”; can you imagine if you pass it on to say… your 40-something-year-old friend who’s having a middle-age crisis? Awkward!
Candles. Candles are essential home items most people forget about and only remind themselves when they’re in danger. If that’s not your case and you have a lot of candles already, then yes; candles are a great present to regift. It’s also very fitting for the Holidays, especially if they’re scented. Christmas asks for candle lights all over the house.
Gift Cards. Well, this one is the most impersonal kind of gift, so it’s only fitting you regift it, right? Again: preserve Grandma; think about the person you will regift it to and see if the store your gift card is from has anything to do with their taste. Don’t get an Urban Outfitter’s gift card and pass it on to a baby boomer.
Bath Products. Bath Products are great for regifting! Especially for women. Everyone loves (and needs) to have a good beauty bath from time to time, with scents, bubbles, and whatnots. And it’s not a very personal thing, so guess what: even Grandma will like this one!
Worst Gifts for Regifting
Art. Art is such a great gift, but oh-so-difficult to give. You need to know the person’s taste otherwise it will actually create a very serious situation in which the person feels obligated to display something they don’t like just to please the giver. And it gets even worse when you regift because it’s a piece of art; the giver needs to be really far away from the person you regifted to; otherwise the chances of either the regifted or the original giver find out you pass the present on are huge and both of them will be, understandably, sad you did it.
Lottery tickets. This is a fun(ny) one. We’ve seen people that give out pre-filled lottery tickets to people, sort of like “hey; I’m buying you “chance”. If you win, it will be the greatest gift ever. If you don’t, it will be the worst present ever.” Some people, especially Millennials, fail to see the fun in it and decide to pass it on out of spite. But you know what? It’s, at best, a good joke to go along with a gift; to do it as a regift is just absolutely mean. Not to mention, a little dumb. You have nothing to lose there, only to gain. What if you just gave it away winning lottery tickets?! No. Never regift lottery tickets.
Chocolate. Chocolates are fine presents. Basically, everyone loves it. But they are not that good as a regift. Why? Because they are perishable. They melt if the environment is hot. And, so, it would, in a way, infringe the guidelines we mentioned above of waiting a while to regift. If you have a housewarming party in like February, then: great! Chocolate will make for a great housewarming gift. However, you won’t be able to wait much longer to pass it on: a basket full of chocolate will not last until next Christmas. To sum up the chocolate situation: if you have very different groups, maybe you can quickly pass it on. If you don’t… well, we guess you’re going to have to make this hard work of eating the chocolates. We’re sorry for you, my friend.
Ugly Xmas Sweater. This is the absolute worst. Don’t get us wrong; we think it’s an all-American tradition, so we love it. But the thing is: everyone will notice you regifted. Ugly Xmas Sweaters are too noticeable and families usually make you take pictures with it when they give them to you. So, it’s not a stretch to think that someday the friend you passed it on to will see a picture of you wearing the ugly Xmas sweater red in shame on Facebook or something. If you get caught you can say you liked it so much, you decided to buy an exact one to them. But convincing him or her of that will depend on your acting skills, so beware when passing it on!
What to do if you’re caught regifting?
Well… you need to be as gracious as you can. What was the reason that made you pass it on? Was it because of money? You’re short on it, going through a rough patch? Was it because you already had one exactly like what you got? Or was it pure convenience? You didn’t have time to go out and buy something?
Whatever the reason was, tell the person privately, make sure to say you’re sorry but you really thought that the gift you received was a better fit for them, therefore, you decided to pass it on to him/her. That’s why it’s so important to do the proper management of your regifting. To really think “is this something X would really like?”, because, if so, it won’t really matter if you bought it yourself or if you’re just passing it on. It won’t be a matter of “here’s what I don’t like” but “hey, this is nice, but I prefer you have it because it’s so much you”.
What if you find out you got a regift?
Well… that’s too bad, buddy. But why make a big deal out of it? Think first: is the gift cool? If so, who cares if the person bought it themselves thinking of you or not? What matters is that it’s yours now and you can and will take advantage of it. Second: hey, it happens and that shouldn’t be a big deal. What you should focus on is that, however, low the effort, at least there was one gift given to you. It could be worse and you end up empty-handed. And you know what: if nothing comforts you… then regift it yourself. Pass it on. If caught, use the age-old “he/she started”.
Are you re-gifting someone this Holiday? Tell us in the comments!