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Friday, December 28, 2007

The Dos and Don'ts of Regifting

How to give gifts with past lives — without getting caught

C'mon, stop being such a goody two-shoes. Everybody's doing it. Well, maybe not everyone, but according to a recent Harris Interactive survey, more than half of us admit to regifting — that is, passing off unwanted gifts as if they were being bestowed for the very first time. For years considered a clear social no-no, regifting is shedding its stigma. Here are some ‘rules of regifting’, and tips on the right way to regift from msnbc.com (by way of The Motley Fool).

The rules of regifting

There are plenty of obvious "tells" that a gift has been resurrected from one of your holidays past. To avoid them...

  • Don't confuse "barely used" with "brand-spankin' new": If there are any signs of wear and tear — a broken seal, scratched part, pit stains — the item's a no-go for regifting.

  • Do not pass off items that were clearly purchased for you: If it's monogrammed, sorry, you're stuck with it.

  • Don't give away anything handmade by someone you know: Handmade items are off the list of possible regiftables for two reasons: First, it was likely given with much more sentimental intentions than, say, a coffee grinder. Second, such gifts tend to be extremely recognizable.

  • Don't use different sentimental criteria for regifts: Re-circulating a problem gift just to get it out of your sight is bad form. Same goes for slapping a new bow on an old tchtotchke just to check someone's name off the holiday gift list.

  • Don't give unused (or even "lightly loved") gift cards: A gift card with a $43.22 balance is an obvious regift.

  • Don't declare "It's vintage!" when it's really just plain bedraggled: Just because it's old doesn't mean it's a cherished collectible.

  • Don't regift an obvious giveaway: Skip the office- and trade-show schwag — you know, key chains, coffee mugs, and outerwear with some random company's logo emblazoned upon it. If it was free in the first place, it's worth even less in round two.

  • Do not bestow a white elephant re-gift out of spite: Funny, sure. But that flicker of sheer horror on the recipient's face will come back to haunt you.
The right way to regift

Follow these regifting tips to come off like a sentimental big lug during the big reveal.

  • Keep track of the flow chart of gifting: There's no bigger horror than returning a gift that was bestowed to you back to its original giver. Avoid this by keeping track of each item's past (formally, on a spreadsheet, if you want to be a regifting pro). In fact, regifting pros suggest that to play it safe, its best to repurpose in an entirely different social circle than the one from which original item was bestowed.

  • Make sure all original packaging is intact: Does it pass the shrinkwrap test? If the item originally came hermetically sealed from the factory, it should move up the gift chain in the same condition.

  • Triple-check for all telltale regifting signs: Gift tags stuck in the bottom of the box's folds, gift receipts, the whiff of someone else's perfume, an actual picture of someone you know in the frame (and not the standby camera-ready studio family shot) — remove all signs (dust for fingerprints if you must) that the gift has a past. Finally, before you present it, step back and re-evaluate the regift from the recipient's perspective to make sure it passes the test.

  • Wrap it like it's new: Repurpose the gift, not the wrapping paper, bow, or heaven forfend, the card.

  • Give with good intentions: The sentiment behind your regift should be the same as the thought behind any new gift: You're passing it along because you think the recipient will appreciate it.

  • Give it away anyways: If you received something in the past that doesn't pass the regift test, you're not necessarily stuck with it forever. Pass it along without the guise of the "new gift" (minus wrapping paper, bow and card) and give the recipient an easy out (e.g. "I wore this once and was told it made my complexion come off as puce. If you like it — or know someone else who would — it's yours.").

  • Finally, we all know that when it comes to gifts, that whole "it's the thought that counts" yarn really doesn't fly with anyone but your parents. For all others, it is all about the gift (though no one will cop to it, at least on the record). So put some thought into your gift — er, regift — and pat yourself on the back for finding it a permanent home.

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