Regifting revival makes economic sense

December 1, 2009


Given the state of the economy and your bank account, purchasing gifts for certain friends and family may not be possible this holiday season.

But no need to worry if that is your situation. Surely you have nice but unused gifts stashed around your home. If so, pull them out to do what in the past might have been unthinkable — regift.

More Americans this year are planning on regifting or passing on a gift they received from someone else, according to a Consumer Reports survey on holiday shopping. The poll found that 36 percent of U.S. adults said they would recycle a gift, compared with 31 percent last year and 24 percent in 2007.

There should be no shame in this money saving strategy, says Jodi Newbern, author of “Regifting Revival! A Guide to Reusing Gifts Graciously” (Synergy Books, $16.95).

“With resources becoming scarcer and the economy becoming rockier, now is the time for regifting to be resurrected as a wonderful, wise, and responsible way for all of us to fight against the continued waste of unwanted gifts,” Newbern writes.

Amen, sister.

I’ve always advocated regifting. So I’ve chosen Newbern’s book for the December pick for the Color of Money Book Club.

Newbern has written a fantastic how-to guide that just may win over many opponents of regifting. The glossy 161-page book is part persuasion, part regift manual. She promises — and delivers — a “definitive source for all things regiftable.”

Cate Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, a nonprofit credit-counseling agency, notes that regifting is becoming a phenomenon. “Instead of going broke this holiday season, consumers should consider bringing unused gifts out of the supply closet,” she said.

MMI has even created a Web site that provides a forum for fans and foes of the practice. For the third year, MMI is soliciting regifting stories — good and bad — at www.regiftable. com. The contest, which has prizes valued up to $500, ends on Dec. 31.

After reading the entries posted so far, there are definitely a lot of people who need to read Newbern’s book.

Pamela A. from Duluth, Minn., should buy the book to give to a bad regifter in her life. She wrote: “I gave my dad’s girlfriend, who is cat crazy and collects anything cat, a beautiful couch throw that I had hunted for months to find for her. It was the perfect size for her couch and she used it for months. Imagine my surprise, when on Christmas morning five years ago, I opened my gift from her and found this comforter staring up at me from the box! (She) smiled joyfully and asked me how I liked her gift, and I told her that I had loved it when I gave it to her. Boy was her face red!”

Opponents of regifting often argue that it is inconsiderate or insulting to recycle a gift. That can be true if the gift isn’t well presented and is unsuitable for the recipient. But does something have to be newly purchased to be appropriate and appreciated? If your intentions are good and you do this right, you can graciously regift without any resulting hurt feelings. Just follow Newbern’s No. 1 rule of regifting: “Almost any gift can be regifted, but not all gifts can be regifted in just any way.”


canyon_wren 8 years, 4 months ago

This seems tacky. Why bother to give gifts at all, if times are that hard? Everyone has too much stuff anyway. Or "gear down" and spend less. I have nothing against passing something nice along if it is appropriate, but I can see that this could wind up like the various White Elephant exchanges, where totally useless (and often ridiculous) items are passed along, benefitting no one except the "passer," who will probably wind up with a new piece of junk he/she will have to keep track of for next year's "exchange." Sounds pretty stupid, to me and a total waste of time, not to mention an insult to the recipient.

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