Green Gifting

Green Gifting

I have a daughter who, every year, regifts last year’s Christmas presents. Her siblings used to gripe about it until the middle of March. I, on the other hand, have come to see her behavior as a form of truly green gifting. After all, she never gives away something she likes or can use, so her rejects always stand the chance of going to someone for whom a naked lady back scratcher or a pair of glow-in-the-dark socks make perfect sense.

green gifting

green gifting

And why not? What kind of idiot gave her those presents in the first place? With age, the victims of her Christmas recycling largesse have gotten more philosophical. In fact, I suspect they have a secret betting pool (to which I was not invited). They probably even have written rules dissecting how to analyze these regifts to decide which is the most horrendous, asinine, or absurd.

On a much larger scale, some regifters have: signed away a burial plot without knowing the recipient had metastatic cancer; transferred title to a car which was later implicated in the drug trade and taken for evidence (whoops!; and offered such month-long or year-long services as pedicures (to an 80-year-old gent); diaper service (to a woman who had just had her tubes tied); and laundry service to a nurse who never wore anything but hospital scrubs – from the hospital laundry, no less.

The message is, if you intend to regift, make sure the recipient can actually use the gift. Otherwise, regifting doesn’t make a lot of sense, and second-hand gifts have an inherent  sell-by date. Other than that, though, regifting has finally come into its own, thanks in part to the principle behind Freecycle and other recycling sites.

Don’t worry about your income level, or anyone else’s for that matter. A 2011 survey by CouponCabin notes that those who make the most money are the most likely to regift- something that had been intuitively obvious to me for years. Around here we call them cheapskates.

What can you safely regift? A set of jumper cables, if it’s a guy. An answering machine for a landline/wireless phone, but only if the recipient already has the phone. A bottle of aged wine, but not to a recovering alcoholic (duh!). Costume jewelry, to a woman of course, and only if she hasn’t seen you wearing it. But never, never anything personalized; e.g., monogrammed or with a sewn in name label as is sometimes the case with custom-made prom and bridesmaid’s dresses. Regift unused sets of dishes, or matching tablecloths and napkins. Regift vintage clothing like that perfect lace shawl or the beaded flapper dress from the Roaring Twenties. Do not regift books if you have read them; that suspiciously mustardy stain on page 143 will give you away every time.

Want some more ideas? Kitchen appliances often go over big, as long as they are still new – and barring such use-once-and-hide items as a Salad Shooter. Even the name should have you taking a long breath as you decipher whether the name hints at a really cool appliance or a really scary one (what part of shooter didn’t you understand)? I personally want my salad to lie quietly on my plate.

Now that regifting has become popular rather than just tacky, expect to see those matching Red Wing pottery candy dishes coming back atcha in 2014. When they do, you may wonder why you gave them away. If ‘cat’ doesn’t ring a bell, maybe you valued your sweet-tempered calico more than handcrafted pottery, and congratulations to you!

Finally, with regifting having its own holiday (December 20 this year), and the backing of none other than social guru Emily Post, feel free to give those flannel North Park sheets to your favorite goofy friend. One man’s nuisance is another man’s treasure, and the same applies to women.

Or, as the regifting movement asks: what is lightly used and green all over?

A regift, of course.

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