Holiday regifting: Naughty or nice?
In the Seinfeld episode "The Label Maker," Elaine labels Dr. Tim Whatley a "regifter" after he takes her present and gives it to Jerry.
Almost a decade after the term was popularized it's no longer just a punchline -- regifting is a popular gift-giving phenomenon. But the question remains, when is it okay to re-give something that's been given to you?
Louise Fox of The Etiquette Ladies, the Toronto-based consulting firm on all things proper, tells ctvbc.ca that Seinfeld's Whatley broke a cardinal rule of regifting: thou shalt not regift to someone close to you.
"Take off your immediate group of friends. The gift giver and receiver should ideally not know each other at all," she said from her Toronto office.
The same goes for unique presents. The stranger the gift, the wider you need to spread that regifting berth.
Fox says handing off a gift that might not necessarily be your taste is acceptable as long as certain guidelines are followed:
- It must be appropriate. The present has to be something the person would enjoy and not just something you want to get rid of, Fox says.
- It should be intact. "The label saying 'Merry Christmas from Aunty Em' should be off there,'" Fox says.
- Don't give to someone in your close circle.
- Don't give something dated. "Especially if its technology," Fox says. "If they go to return it down the road, the store might tell them they haven't carried it in five years and that's a dead giveaway."
There are some times, however, that regifting can be seen as a good thing, and its okay for it to be recognized. If the present is an antique or family heirloom the regift actually adds to the present's value.
California's Barbara Bitela loves regifting so much she wrote a book about it.
The Art of Regifting: Your ABC's Guide to Regifting says not only is regifting a great way to save money, it's also an easy way to be green-friendly, something Bitela says we should all aspire to.
"We are a culture of recyclers and this is a great way to cut down on all the waste," she told ctvbc.ca from her office in Northern California.
"I find myself getting stuff I would never use -- and it's a shame!"
Bitela also says the process of regifting should happen all year round, not just the holidays.
"I have a shelf in my closet where stuff goes and on December 1 it starts coming out and I go down my list and see who should get what," she says.
So when is it just flat-out wrong to regift? Both experts say a very handmade and unique gift is one that you're going to have to keep, even if it's hideous.
"You're just going to have to learn to love it, and maybe even drag it out of the basement when they come over," Fox says.
Have your say: Is it okay to regift?