The hidden hazards of regifting. | Shopping & Services

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The hidden hazards of regifting.
The hidden hazards of regifting.

So a few days ago, I wrote a little post about gift cards, and I showed off my secret stash of paper and plastic tickets to paradise.  Well, shortly after I put up the post, I was inspired to take stock of my collection and realized that this Christmas, I had received a $50 gift certificate to go see a show at a local theater.  The paper clearly advertised “any show in the 2010-2011 season!”, and it occurred to me that I should probably go to their website and figure out which show I wanted to see in advance, so I didn’t end up having to see a some 4 hour retrospective of plays about dirt or something. So i’m browsing their 2010-2011 shows and I realize…

THEIR 2010-2011 SEASON ENDED ON JANUARY 23RD!

Now, I got a lot of flack the last time I complained about bad gifts, and this particular gesture was in essence not entirely different in terms of thoughtlessness than giving a ceramic polar bear figurine. But, there’s just something about realizing that you’ve been regifted that really brings you down! Especially when it’s something that you actually want, and then you realize that it’s expired and that you were essentially gifted a colorful piece of paper that the original recipient didn’t want.  It’s sort of the holiday equivalent of getting punk’d.

But, we live in a culture of constant and unnecessary consumption. Every time I go to the Goodwill, I think “if the universe never produced another basket for the next 10,000 years, we would still be ok”. At least with a regift, you’re not directly supporting the avalanche of pointless and unwanted consumer goods that bury us every holiday season.  In theory, regifting is a good idea. So why does it feel so bad?

1. A regift says- “This wasn’t good enough for me, but i’m sure it’ll be fine for you.”

2. An obvious regift makes the recipient feel like they weren’t worthy of you spending any time or money on them.

3. If you don’t want it, there’s a good chance that it’s kind of a crappy gift to begin with.

So keeping these things in mind, I decided to make up my own Rules of Regifting:

1. BE TRANSPARENT. If you only follow one of these rules, let it be this one.  Whether you just let people know that you’re broke, or you make hilarious custom gift tags exclaiming that you’re regifting as a statement against rampant consumer excess, one of the best ways to avoid a catastrophic gift giving faux pas is to tell the truth about the origin of the gift up front.  You’ll be surprised how many people don’t mind.

2. Don’t regift something that you wouldn’t have otherwise bought the person you are giving it to. No, really. Nobody wants that Slap Chop your Grandma gave you. NOBODY.

3. Make sure that your regift is still mint in package, or at least still just as cool out of the package.

4. By the same token, whether it’s food or cosmetics or a gift certificate of some sort… make sure that your regift is not expired (or expiring soon). Otherwise, you’re essentially regifting your garbage.

In short, there is no shame if regifting. In fact, it’s actually a really good idea. Just make sure you’re being as thoughtful and considerate about it as you would if you were buying that gift at the store. And PLEASE take that Slap Chop to the Goodwill before somebody gets hurt.

What’s the worst regift you every got (or possibly ever gave if you’d like to repent for your sins)?