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Sticky Situation: Regifting Dos and Don'ts

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Sticky situation:

You are sure the neighbours did it with the Panettone. You suspect your brother-in-law did too, with the No Name golf balls. You know your mother does it with cheap wine bottles and your grandmother is famous for doing it with picture frames, but not so subtly. And you, would you, did you, do you...regift?

Now that Christmas is over and the pretty papers and beautiful bows are off, it's the season to regift. For many Canadians the in between the holidays invitations are perfect for passing on, recycling and clearing their homes of the not so desired offerings like the smelly candles, and all the impulse check-out line buys from HomeSense.


The basic principle of regifting should not be one man's trash is another man's treasure. Chances are that if it is trash to you, it will be for others too. Many of us got our first regifting lesson in January of 1995 from Seinfeld's Elaine when she called Dr. Tim Whatley a 'regifter'.

Back then, almost 20 years ago, regifting used to be a complete no-no. These days with overconsumption, environmental concerns combined with our current economic situation, it may be acceptable if and when the following conditions apply:

• Foremost, you should be sure that the receiver will enjoy or use what you are offering. That is the basic gift giving principle.

• Your gift should be new, unused and still available in stores.

• The original packaging, merchandise tickets and instructions are intact.

• The wrapping and gift tag are freshly replaced and personalized.

• There is no chance that the 'original giver' will be looking for their gift in your home.

• And for obvious reasons avoid the regifting practice in front of your children. You never know what will come out of their mouth when they recognize the gift that you received is being opened by another person.

If you love the idea of regifting why not throw a regifting swap party? No wrapping and note required, just fun and swapping. Pass on "that gift" and switch it for the one that you like.

Better than regifting is simply offering forward, without paper and bow, a gift that you got and that you know someone will appreciate. "Here. I know how much you enjoy teas. I received this David's Tea boxed set in our Secret Santa at the office and I thought that you would enjoy sampling these different flavours."

Remember, as Oprah says: "Doubt means don't." If you are afraid that someone's feelings will be hurt or there is a slim chance that your "worlds will collide" (here, too, is a reference to another Seinfeld episode), tuck the gift away in a closet and take it out when your giver visits.

Have a sticky situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Check out Facebook, Twitter and order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities.


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