While passing off an old, unused present to a new recipient may have seemed rude and thoughtless in the past, over 36% of Americans participate in this tradition annually. So, in times of fiscal prudence, why not celebrate with a round-robin of gift-giving? With that in mind, we’ve compiled tips for thoughtful regifting that won’t make you look (or feel) cheap.
The White Elephant Party
Instead of Secret Santa this year, why not spice up your work party with a White Elephant exchange? To participate, everyone buys a present, wraps it, and puts it in a pile. Nothing should cost over $20. Names are drawn out of a hat, and each person has the choice to pick whichever gift-wrapped item looks the best. If it’s something he or she wants to keep, great! Otherwise, the person has the chance to “steal” from someone else by swapping goodies with another person who’s already opened a gift.
In a White Elephant exchange, you’re working under a budget, so the best presents are always the most original. And, unlike a Secret Santa, no one ends up resentful because you bought them scented candles for the second year in a row.
Thanks to your vocal love of The Office, you’ve ended up with a boxed set of the fourth season from two separate friends. Do you:
a) Let one copy sit on your shelf, collecting dust
b) Sell it on eBay or Amazon, where it will be competing with 1,000 other copies of the same thing, and selling for less than the shipping cost?
c) Wrap a copy up and give it to a friend who shares your love of Michael Scott’s antics?
The choice is pretty obvious.
If You Try Sometimes, You Just Might Find … Well, You Know the Rest
The best presents aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Start by finding out what your friends need, not what you’re trying to get rid of. Do you have a book or dress your friend is always admiring? We don’t want you to feel like you have to fork over your prized possessions, but if you haven’t cracked open the copy of "Food Matters" that your mom bought for you, and your friend is a Mark Bittman fanatic, write a personal note on the inside flap and regift away. Giving a gift that’s both practical and tailored to the individual is best. Cost is meaningless if, say, you gave a $300 coffeemaker to a friend who already owns a great French press.
Worried about making a regifting faux-pas? There are a plethora of online resources about proper regifting etiquette. They all reference the same bible of good manners: Emily Post’s Guide to Etiquette, which tackled the subject back in July. Other good online references: “Tis the Season of Regifting,” MSN’s 12 Rules For Regifting Without Fear, and Regiftable.com , which collects personal anecdotes of the best and worst presents the second time around.
If you’re still feeling guilty about regifting, remember that it’s actually good for the environment! The Daily Green endorses regifting as a way to decrease clutter in your circle of friends. Reduce, reuse, recycle? And, now, regift.