It’s that time of year again. Everyone’s house is beautifully decorated with colorful lights (or boring all-white ones). People smile at me in the check out line at Walmart, instead of running me over with their carts to beat me to the “speed-thru line”. Friends and colleagues are giving me frosted, green and red, sugar cookies. Massachusetts is trying to force everyone to call them “holiday trees” to avoid offending all the non-Christians who decorate them this month. Yes, there is no doubt….it’s the holidays! The season of giving is upon us. A time for some to master the sport of shopping. And a time for others to perfect the art of re-gifting.
Oh come now. Don’t gasp at the phrase, lift your hand to your dropped jaw and exclaim, “well I never!” We’ve all done it. Sometimes it’s a last-minute necessity. That next-door neighbor from 3 years ago just happens to drop by with an exquisite vintage wine for you and your family to enjoy Christmas Eve. EEK! You have nothing to give in return. You quickly run to the junk drawer, pull out the first item and throw it into a gift bag. How thrilled they are to receive those days-of-the-week bag clips.
It happens to the best of us. But it doesn’t have to happen to you. You can be a successful re-gifter, if you follow these simple re-gifting guidelines.
Re-Gifting Guideline #1 – Inspect for Personalization
Last year my mother sent my husband a nifty little screw driver kit. Incredibly useful, especially for someone who wouldn’t know a Phillips head from a power saw. Actually, he liked it. He was just about to call my mother and express his gratitude for her gift that suddenly bridged the gap between mothers and sons-in law, when he turned the kit over and read the inscription…”#1 Grandpa”. Oops! I guess my step-dad didn’t have much use for last year’s Hanukkah gift from my sister’s kids! I have to admit, I was a little shocked by my mother’s thoughtlessness. She’s much too seasoned a re-gifter to make such a rookie mistake.
Re-Gifting Guideline #2 – Avoid “Didn’t I Give You That Last Year” Moments
If you’re a repeat re-gifter, this is bound to happen. You just know Tina would love this vintage cotton-candy maker that has been doubling as a dust collector in your attic for the past 24 months. It’s so…so….her. You beam from ear to ear as she opens it because you will finally be rid of this useless…..I mean, you know she’ll go nuts over it. Her expression is less than euphoric as she inquires, “isn’t this the one I gave you two years ago?” Doh! This mistake can be easily avoided by a keeping a detailed log of all items you plan to re-gift over the next five years, along with the names of their original donors.
Of course if you do have a moment of weakness and make this blunder, you can always cover with a well-executed “I loved mine so much, I wanted to give you the same thing.”
Re-Gifting Guideline #3 – Double Check Pockets and Drawers
Yes. In my early days of re-gifting, I too committed this unfortunate flub. It was our first anniversary and I was expecting something big from then-boyfriend, Sam. To my utter dismay, he “surprised” me with a jewelry box. Really? What the heck good is a jewelry box without jewelry to put in it? Needless to say, we parted due to irreconcilable differences not long after. But what to do with this worthless jewelry box? Of course! I could give it to my friend, Michelle, for her birthday!
When Michelle’s big day finally arrived, I presented her with Sam’s box. I was surprised by the amount of squealing she emitted, which I found to be rather excessive considering my own reaction at its unveiling. Then I saw it. Michelle had opened the bottom drawer and pulled out the most exquisite gold tennis bracelet I had ever seen! Uh oh. Now I had two problems on my hand….1) how would I possibly top this next year and 2) what the heck had I done with Sam’s number?
Re-Gifting Guideline #4 – Gift Unto Others as You Would Have Them Gift Unto You
In order to truly consider yourself a success at re-gifting, you have to be selective. It’s easy to become overzealous once you start to develop a knack and re-gift every unsightly token Aunt Betsy sends you. You must resist this. While re-gifting is a miser’s dream come true, it is a shameful humiliation when your re-gift gets re-re-gifted. What’s worse, if your circle of friends is small enough in circumference, it could wind up back in your possession! This is the ultimate tragedy. Therefore, it is best to re-gift with a touch of class. Remember, if it triggered a gag reflex in you, chances are it will in someone else too.
For the ideal re-gifting experience this holiday season, follow these simple rules. To provide misery with some company, share some of your own re-gifting bloopers in the comment section below. It will give other re-gifters a sense of camaraderie ….and you can’t argue with that!