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Holiday Recycling

Don’t toss unwanted gifts — regift them...
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:23 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Bad gifts are as much a tradition of the holidays as mistletoe and menorahs.

Every year, as you eagerly rip open the brightly wrapped gifts in anticipation of the watch you wanted, you are met with an awful sweater, a pair of too-tight pants or a hideous homemade gift.

Before you pour a bottle of vodka into the Jell-O mold, consider that getting bad gifts doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Enter the practice of “regifting,” the money-saving procedure of giving away the gifts you don’t want to the people who buy you bad gifts every year. Regifting can be risky but effective when done correctly; all you have to do is follow a few simple rules.

Making sure the original gift-giver does not know the ultimate gift-receiver is the first rule of regifting.

“Do not give the gift to someone who knows the other person,” said Melissa Timmermann, a regifter from Columbia.

Timmermann made an emergency regift several Christmases ago when she realized on Christmas day she forgot to buy her cousin a gift.

“I got a stuffed snowman from my grandma on my dad’s side on Christmas Eve,” Timmermann said. “So I gave it to my cousin on my mom’s side on Christmas. It was already wrapped and everything.”

Grandma and the cousin never found out.

Andy Ward of Columbia also followed this integral rule when regifting a present he received from his sister-in-law.

“I got a present from my sister-in-law and gave it to someone on my side of the family,” Ward said. “They didn’t interact that much. I wouldn’t have done it if there was a good chance that they would find out.”

The gift receiver not finding out is a main obstacle in regifting. The second rule to regifting is to not regift something that the gift recipient knows you received before to the regifting.

Jackie Cattron of Columbia discovered her sister regifted her Christmas gift.

“I got a candle from my sister that she had had in her room for a long time,” Cattron said. “I had seen the candle before so I knew she regifted it.”

The gift didn’t offend Cattron.

“She was only 8, so it didn’t really bother me that much,” Cattron said.

Cattron said that she doesn’t oppose regifting.

“If I’m not going to use it, why not give it to someone who will,” Cattron said.

There are other good reasons to regift. For Ward, it was receiving a gift he owned.

“I regifted a duplicate gift,” Ward said. “I just regifted it instead of returning it. It saved me some hassle and some money.”

Others regift because they don’t like the gift they received.

“What was I going to do with (the stuffed snowman)?” Timmermann said.


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