How to Re-Gift With Grace

I’m sure re-gifting has been around before the phrase was popularized by Seinfeld but Seinfeld put a bit of a negative spin on the concept. I would like to address the topic on a more objective level.

The concept is basically giving a gift that was given to you, but for me that extends to another level of giving something that you already have regardless of where it came from. It’s the thought that counts, right?

But how do you determine for what items, or when this is appropriate?

These are not hard and fast rules, but this is the re-gifting guidelines I live by.

1. Keep it material

I think that the thought is what counts and if someone actually put a good deal of thought or time into a gift, or even made the gift for you themselves, that gift is somewhat off limits for re-gifting. This also depends on who gave the gift, but for the most part, if someone put that much thought into something, they probably care about whether or not you enjoy and keep the gift. You will know the person better than me; some people will be more laid back about what you do with a gift after its given. Those people are typically the people that put a great deal of thought into a gift but don’t trust that they know you as well as they think so they include the gift receipt. They would prefer you be happy in the end, so re-gift away.

2. Take note of the expiration date

For me, I give gifts about a one year window of expiration. What this means is if I am given a gift, regardless of how cool or great I think it is, if I haven’t used it, picked it up or moved it from where it was set down since it was received, that gift has expired and should be redirected outwardly. This goes especially well with unopened gifts that are still in the original plastic wrap such as movies or games but again, remember rule number one.

3. Long live the useful

Some gifts are awesome and get used a great deal but once their purpose has been fulfilled, they begin to clutter. If that gift is in good shape and you feel it could serve the same purpose for someone else, pass that gift along. The beauty of this is two fold. One, you are reusing something which is good for the environment and saved you money. Two, that gift now falls into the category of sentimentally valued.

As an addition to this, gifts that are no longer manufactured and hard to find can be great re-gifts. My parents gave me a music box that connects to your Christmas tree and blinks the Christmas lights to the beat of the music. I grew up to this same box every Christmas and wanted one but they are no longer manufactured or sold anywhere, not even knockoffs so this gift was very special to me.

Some things to keep in mind, Christmas is a time to cherish your relationships and give with all your heart. Re-gifting in my opinion is not for the cheap, but for the resourceful and thoughtful. If you think someone else may find value in something you have, give it to them. Don’t be a jerk and re-gift garbage.

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12 People have left comments on this post

» CraigNo Gravatar said: { Dec 10, 2009 - 10:12:41 }

As long as you make sure there is no evidence that the gift could have been giving to you at an earlier date, no one will know or care if its something they could use.
.-= Craig´s last blog ..Book Review: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel =-.

» AmandaNo Gravatar said: { Dec 10, 2009 - 10:12:17 }

Definitely good advice!!
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Recipe Thursday =-.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Dec 10, 2009 - 10:12:21 }

@Craig, exactly. If it’s useful, who cares where it came from 🙂

@Amanda, 🙂 Glad you liked it, hopefully it will come in handy. I for one would rather have something thoughtfully re-gifted to me than receive cash, call me old fashioned.

» KyleNo Gravatar said: { Dec 10, 2009 - 12:12:59 }

I don’t care where it came from as long as it is something I will actually use. Don’t regift me the ugly vase from grandma. Feel free to regift me electronics in working order.
.-= Kyle´s last blog ..The Secret Art of Tipping =-.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Right on Kyle, especially about electronics. Some times people upgrade, and that means I get the oldies which I am perfectly happy with 🙂

» toddrifficNo Gravatar said: { Dec 10, 2009 - 02:12:57 }

I’m TOTALLY getting a new (re-gifted) microwave this x-mas and I’m thrilled about it…

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Oh ya, especially the really expensive stuff. It’s really nice when other people can afford to upgrade, ya know, good for them, but on top of that, good for you when you get the perfectly working older models, yahoo! We were gifted a couch once, circa 1970…complete with the hideous speckled texture, but hey, it worked fine! (it’s been replaced since then with another regifted couch haha)

» Mrs. MicahNo Gravatar said: { Dec 10, 2009 - 02:12:56 }

I’m ok w/ppl regifting something I gave if they think it’d do better elsewhere. And I’m ok w/getting regifts as long as there was at least minimal thought put into them. Even if I know it’s a regift, it makes me happy that I can put it to good use.
.-= Mrs. Micah´s last blog ..How to Study for the GREs – Part 2: Quantitative/Math =-.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Exactly, the thought really does count. I am hugely against gift cards. I think they are thoughtless gifts and are just a step above cash, not to mention a huge cash cow for retailers. I will take any old thing if someone actually thought, “hey, I bet he would like this” and I’m all for my gifts being passed on.

{ Dec 11, 2009 - 03:12:49 } Friday Links - Canadian Finance Blog

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