Lighthearted Fun

Re-gifting Etiquette

Dear Mr Miller,

My husband thinks it would be okay to re-gift an item we received from my great-aunt Ruth.  I, on the other-hand, feel it would be improper and cause some alarm to the recipient of the gift.  Could you please settle this argument for us?

PS, if it’s not too much trouble, I would like a reply before Christmas…

Thank you,

Mrs Mary Giver.


Okay, first of all, let me go on record and say that I am shocked that you would actually ask if it’s considered okay to re-gift… Of course it’s okay!  I’ve been doing it for years and I am highly suspicious others are doing it to me too.  Now, before you run off and start wrapping everything in your junk closet, let me stress that there are some rules that apply here:

1.  If you wish to keep receiving gifts from others, it is best to act as if you love their gift.  It is also important to wait the appropriate amount of time before re-gifting the item.  Usually a day or two is sufficient; however, I’ve discovered that 2 years is almost perfect.  Unless, of course, the gift in question is routinely considered a food item.   (Fruit cakes are not, in fact, limited to this classification.)  I have received some fruit cakes in the past, that were only slightly younger than me and clearly were not intended to be consumed by humans.  Fruit cakes should never be re-gifted. (Or gifted in the first place.)

2. It is very important that you do not forget who gave you a gift, and then a year or two later gift it back to them or someone in their immediate family.  Whenever I receive a good applicant for re-gifting, I take meticulous notes on who gave it, when, and what the occasion was.  Some givers are very impressed with my note-taking, no doubt expecting me to send them a hand-written thank you note, unfortunately they are in for a disappointment .  This attention to detail is important though, lets suppose that your great-aunt Ruth gave you a lamp that looks pretty awful. regift You decide that it is a little outdated for your taste, (by about 15 years), and so you throw it into your junk closet intending to pull it out for your great aunt’s bi-yearly visits.  It sits there forgotten for a number of years until one day in a frantic rush to find a gift for a cousin’s wedding,  you stumble across it and can’t remember where you got it.  Assuming that anything that ugly must have been an accidental purchase back when you were going through that “eclectic phase”, you put a bow on it and take it to the wedding.  When you step from your car holding the atrocity, you see Ruth across the parking lot and as your paths converge, the memory of her gift to you comes flooding back.  Fortunately for you, her memory is not what it used to be and she comments on the beautiful gift you will be giving and continues on her merry way.  No feelings were hurt in this incident, but the whole thing could have been avoided if you had only done a better job of record keeping.

3.  If you have used the item at all, make sure you remove any signs of use or anything that could be traced back to you.  Some time ago, I received a book for my birthday entitled: “27 Easy Steps To A Better You” (or some such nonsense).  As I was taking my notes on who gave it, the book popped open to page 184 and there was a note written in the left margin that said: “Dave, I’m so glad you have decided to finally read this book and take control of your life. Love, Mary.   PS I have decided to move back home to my parents.  If you still love me when you get everything back in order, look me up. I’ll be waiting for you.”  The person who gave the book was not Dave or Mary, so I’m assuming that this book has had a long life of being unread and re-gifted.  I decided to keep the book, it makes a wonderful conversation piece, particularly whenever I meet someone named either Dave or Mary.

In conclusion, I have gone to the trouble of listing some things that should not be re-gifted under any circumstances: Fruit cake, any article of clothing that has been worn more than once, expired sporting event tickets, or any items that have been engraved with a specific name or date.  There are more that I have overlooked, I’m sure, but the brevity of this list, proves that there are millions of gifts that are perfect for re-gifting.  In fact, look at it this way, people may consider it an honor that you thought their gift was so good, you want to give it away to someone else.  So, to answer your question, Mary, your husband is correct in thinking…

…Mary, huh?, your husband’s name doesn’t happen to be Dave does it?  Just curious, at any rate, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!


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