By Gery L. Deer
All right, admit it. At one time or another, you’ve re-gifted something you received during the holidays – maybe even the same year! We’ve all done it, as distasteful and classless as it sounds.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what it means to re-gift something. You know, when you take something you got as a Christmas present but you find it either so useless or terrible you pass it along to someone else – often because either you dislike the person or forgot to include them on your gift list. Usually, it gets passed off as something new, rather than the holiday gift version of the hand-me-down.
Probably the most re-gifted items are fruitcakes or some type of pre-boxed gift sets. You know the type, a mix of cologne and after shave, or perfume and powder. They line the center aisle or end caps near the checkout waiting to catch the attention of the last-minute shopper who forgot Aunt Sallie or the coworker in the next cubicle.
As I was thinking about this piece, I decided to around for suggestions about what kinds of things were frequently re-gifted by friends and co-workers and I got quite an array. The list included mashed potato-scented candles, gargoyle-encrusted picture frames, pinecone nightlight, super-cheap fleece throw blankets, and weird Christmas decorations made of rustic-looking wood featuring a Santa face where a reindeer’s belly should be. Other frequently re-gifted items include a tackle box-style makeup “gift set” items that could be terrible if you don’t know the individual.
One thing you have to be pretty careful about is keeping track of who gave you the gift in the fist place so as not to re-gift it back to the original giver. Oh, the shear embarrassment that would ensue when Uncle Bob opens the multi-colored, faux satin, polyester sequence shirt you just gave him for Christmas, only to have him remark how he gave you one just like it the year before. Oops!
Yeah, it happens – a lot actually. My research also turned up that there are apparently rules of etiquette involved with re-gifting and not passing it back to the original giver is close to the top of the list. You should also avoid actually opening the original packaging or using the item before re-gifting. In addition, it’s probably best not to try to reuse the original wrapping paper, as the first giver is certain to recognize it, even a year later, if they’re in your close circle of recipients.
I admit I have re-gifted a few DVDs, small art pieces, some home décor and similar items, not because they were odd or unwelcome, but more that they didn’t fit my home or interests. And I always tried to only give it to someone I thought was a good fit, not just random re-gifting. Of course, I always saved the truly hideous stuff for the occasional white elephant exchange for work.
It would seem there is no limit to what people will pass along the gift chain, and how much would you have to dislike someone to give of this stuff? It’s also entirely possible that some of these things could have been circulating around for years and years, person-to-person, Christmas tree-to-Christmas tree, until someone finally throws it away.
A review of the aforementioned list (of which I’ve only included a few examples), I have to wonder – from where and whom did the gifts originate? I mean, would someone actually purchase any of these items as a genuinely well-intentioned gift? I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be nauseated at artificially created food scents wafting out of a candle.
But, somewhere down the line, someone made the conscious choice to buy these things and most likely with a recipient in mind. So there they are, sitting in a closet or cabinet or storage bin, waiting to be rewrapped and given to a new recipient.
This Christmas, consider that stack of re-giftable items and think about where it might end up. Remember if that ceramic, frog-shaped toilet paper holder in your closet makes its way back into circulation, it might very well end up under your tree once more. Have a Merry Christmas!
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com