Depending on whom you ask, regifting–giving a gift that was given to you–is either the most convenient thing since Google Maps or completely unacceptable.
Although it seems like a faux pas, most people wholeheartedly approve. In fact, three separate studies say it’s OK.
According to a CreditDonkey.com survey of 1,125 people, 83% of respondents think regifting is acceptable, and about 50% think they may have received a regift in the past.
And it’s not just that people say regifting is fine; Aunt Edna actually won’t be as offended as you think she will be when you pass her gifts down the line. The Wall Street Journal cites a Psychological Science study of five experiments with nearly 500 people. The researchers found that those fearful of regifting felt that the giver should decide the fate of the item, but most givers actually felt that the recipient was ultimately responsible for how it was used.
The idea that “It’s always better to give than to receive” is actually quite literal, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. No matter how thoughtful you are when selecting a gift, the thought you put into it will mean more to you than to the person who unwraps it. Which is a vote for “efficient” gifts, like just getting people what they asked for.
And in fact, it turns out that recipients actually get the most pleasure from a gift they’ve explicitly requested. One of the study’s coauthors gives the Journal a rather Grinch-y quote: “It turns out it’s not the thought that counts, it’s the gift that counts,” he says.
If you think about it, regifting can be a financially and ecologically responsible move, and some organizations are promoting it as such. A website called Regiftable declares that the third Thursday of December is National Regifiting Day, and the state of Colorado also encourages an annual day to regift.
Especially in the case of a tight budget, giving a homemade DIY gift or something small from a fun gift website can simply tell someone you’re thinking of them–and isn’t that what a gift is all about?