For Somebody Else to Love: Re-Gifting Unwrapped

I am, admittedly, hard to shop for. This means that I get a lot of truly terrible gifts. It’s not so much that they are terrible gifts; they are just terrible for me. Friends and family think that they know my size or style when they don’t, they forget that my peanut allergy makes me unable to eat anything delicious, or they feel like contributing to my double-lifetime supply of lotions (seriously, who started this rumour that I am a very dry person?). Luckily, I am not above re-gifting.

Re-gifting is “to repackage or rewrap a gift one receives and give it to someone else” (Urban Dictionary 2003). Personally, I receive so many inappropriate gifts that I keep a dynamic box labelled “(re)gifts” in my closet year round. It comes in really handy whenever I need a last minute birthday gift, but Christmas time is really when the re-gifting box really gets to shine. Christmas is when the box is simultaneously emptied and filled. I am ok with re-gifting because it saves me a lot of money and I can feel like the object in question will not go to waste.

However, there is a bit of an art to re-gifting. It can be done well and it can be done shamefully, offensively poorly. To re-gift successfully, you must hold on to that appreciated but useless gift until you find someone who you think will enjoy it more than you did, and hopefully, not re-gift it again. Rewrapping a bread maker for a child’s birthday, a la Old School, is obviously a comically bad idea. Re-gifting should never been done spitefully or without a thought, it is the thought that counts after all.

People do not care much for finding out that the gift they picked out especially for you was re-gifted to someone else. They also do not like finding out that you gave them something because you had received it first but did not like it. You must be stealthy to pull this off correctly. Although I readily admit that I am a re-gifter, I am always cognizant of how the new recipient is connected to the previous giver and I try to keep at least two degrees of separation between them. This means I would never re-gift something from my mother-in-law to my sister-in-law, but I can give her something from my own mother with no hurt feelings. I also try to remember who was around when I opened the gift originally and who will be around when the new owner opens it again so that I can be sure these people will not intersect.

Keep in mind that being a re-gifter means you must graciously receive re-gifted presents in return. I also advise you to not rule out the possibility that the re-gifting cycle of a particular item you have received may never come to an end and that it may be up to you to end the tradition of disappointment by donating it to a local charitable reseller.