Nina Smith

Gifts that keep on giving; the art of regifting

Filed By Nina Smith | December 21, 2007 7:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Christmas, presents, Regifting

Regift: (verb) To give an unwanted gift to someone else; to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift. – Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English, Preview Edition

My partner and I recently received a lovely hostess gift and after realizing – what it was and where it came from – I said, “Don’t unwrap it. That will be perfect for so-and-so.” I can’t actually describe the gift or name the so-and-so, because you can bet I’ll be regifting it this year. Yes, I’m a regifter. There, I said it. I even have a gift drawer. Doesn’t everyone?

Queercents has covered the “gift” topic a few times: Should you buy a discount gift? Do you buy holiday gifts out of obligation? But low and behold, nobody has ever mentioned regifting. That doesn’t mean we’re not all doing it.

According to, two out of three people have either regifted or are considering regifting. The Los Angeles Times explained its origin:

Regifting — a word whose derivation has been traced to a 1995 “Seinfeld” episode — is emerging from the closet. Although experts don’t know when the practice started, it’s probably as old as gift-giving itself. These days it’s more popular than ever.

Some attribute the renewed interest to the economy and people’s desire to recycle. All great reasons: save money and save the planet. But is there an art to regrifting? Nora Dunn at Wise Bread suggests that you remember who gave you the gift in the first place:

True story: It’s my second Christmas with my ex’s family. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, hadn’t quite figured me out in terms of what to buy for me, and since the relationship was still kind of new, we were both unclear as to what types of gifts we should get for each other. For our first Christmas, I got her…you guessed it…soap. (Everybody can use soap, right)? Guess what I got back the next year? That very same raspberry foam soap that I had given her the previous year. And I know that this was a re-gift, because she never would have been able to buy the same soap that second year; the store went out of business! So…re-gift at your own risk. It’s a big bad world of soap out there.

I typically only regift hostess gifts. After all, what am I supposed to do with all those candles, Christmas plates, decorative soaps, and boxes of Sees Candies? Shouldn’t I pass them on? Of course! That seems like a no-brainer.

But what about higher ticket items? For example, I still have unused gift cards. Is it okay then to wrap up that $25 iTunes card and give it to my sister’s stepson? Or is that tacky? He would probably love it and besides, I’m into free downloads these days.

As part of our What Would You Do series at Queercents, we ask when is okay to regift? When is it not? What are your rules? Give us your best regifting story below as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Nina blogs about money over at Queercents.

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Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 23, 2007 6:46 PM

Nina: As one who recently wrote about turning 69 in these spaces, I really resonate with some of the problems you outline in re-gifting, particularly the one about remembering who gave me something so that I don't give it right back to them. That which is beneficial to my ability to successfully hide my own Easter Eggs simply doesn't work at Yuletide.

I'd regift a gift card, but you have to be careful - some of them expire within a year or lose a lot of value.