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regifting \\re gif’ ting\\ v:  Passing off a gift someone else gave you as new.

Chances are, you’ve either regifted or received a regift at least once in your life. It is such a common phenomenon that Jerry Seinfeld dedicated an entire show to it. In that episode, two Superbowl tickets were regifted several times and Elaine received a regifted label maker. The show poked fun at the blunders people make while trying to conceal the fact that something is a regift. But comedies aside, how do people feel about regifting? Is it practical to pass on something you can’t use to someone who would better appreciate it? Or is regifting simply a cheap and lazy way to get someone a present? Many people have mixed feelings about regifting. Here are some interesting views.

Rebecca is a 32-year-old administrative assistant at a dental clinic. “I get useless gifts all the time,” she says. “I get stuff on Secretaries Day from the doctors and the staff, and patients are always giving me random gifts. Some of it is good stuff, but I can’t possibly use it all. How many soaps and candles can a person use in her lifetime?” So Rebecca’s solution is to regift. “Some people shop in department stores from a sea of potential gifts,” she says, “I just shop at home.” For many people, the key to regifting is “suitability”—if it’s something a recipient can use or enjoy more than you do, there should be no reason why you have to keep something you have no use for.

Some people feel that regifting is an acceptable practice, depending on your relationship with the person who gave you the gift. Sarah, a 25-year-old television producer, shares this view. “If I gave a gift to someone I wasn’t close with, like a business contact or third cousin,” she says, “I couldn’t care less if they gave my gift to someone else because they couldn’t use it or didn’t like it. But if it were my mom or my best friend, then that would hurt my feelings.” Sometimes it’s not the gift itself that matters but the sentiment behind it. Even if you don’t have a use for the item it could be valuable because it conveys special meaning.

Still others think of regifting as a moral/ethical debate and they stand staunchly on the side against it. “I hate the practice,” says Jamie, a financial consultant, “I think it’s fine to tell someone you got this as a gift but you won’t be using it and you thought they would like it better, so here. But it’s wrong to let that person think it’s a new gift.” Basically, it’s the intention to deceive that bothers some people who take offense in regifting. Not only are you deceiving the person to whom you are giving the gift, but you are also deceiving the person who gave you the gift by not telling them you have no use for it.

Anthony, a medical student in his thirties, explains why he would never regift, “I think that gift giving requires sacrifice on the part of the giver. It can be time, money, or effort, but I just don’t see any self-sacrifice in regifting because it doesn’t cost the giver anything.” Rebecca disagrees, “I put in a lot of time and thought in all the gifts I give, be it a regift or a new gift. Most of my regifts are more meaningful than the usual bouquet of flowers or bottle of wine, I make sure the receiver would really enjoy the gift before I give it. Isn’t that what gift-giving is all about?”

No matter how you look at it, the practice of regifting will always remain. The bottom line is this: If you don’t want your gift to end up as a regift, make sure you spend time on finding the right gift for everyone on your list. If you must regift, take everyone’s feelings into consideration and exercise caution. The last thing you want is to return the gift to the same person who gave it to you.

This entry was posted on February 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm.