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As the end of January approaches, I sit here in my room and look at the gifts that Christmas and New Year brought me.  Some are to be cherished and lovingly cared for, whilst others are to be discarded like a damp rag or hidden at the bottom of the draw never to be seen again.  However, I think that one other solution, particularly in these times of austerity, is re-gifting. 

Re-gifting is the act of forwarding an unwanted gift to someone else, someone to whom you feel it is more suited.  Re-wrap, re-tag and re-gift.  No one is any the wiser.

I employed this technique only a few days ago with a close relative.  Amongst the many unwanted treasures bestowed upon me was a CD Album by an artist I admire, however I already owned the said album and also know how hard it is to get hold of in the UK.  So I graciously thanked the gift-giver and remarked upon their generosity and then rapidly re-wrapped and labelled the item in order to pass on.

The new receiver was delighted and considered the item a thoughtful much loved gift, even if they were lying like myself – it still felt better to recycle rather than trash.

I have discussed this practice with many friends and have realised that it is quite divisive option.  One remarked that it was “selfish and deceitful”, feeling that it were best to “be honest and admit you didn’t like the item”.  Another felt that it “made good sense to stop the item gathering dust”.  A different acquaintance felt certain that we’d all re-gift rather than hurt someone’s feelings but posed an interesting question, “how many of us would like to receive a re-gifted gift?”

To be honest, if one doesn’t know then it can’t hurt!  However, if you were made aware or even worse, discovered at a later date that a lovely gift was never originally intended for you – it removes the emotion and “specialness” of the present.  It feels cheapened by the knowledge that Aunt Patricia bought the gift for Michael, Michael didn’t like it or it just didn’t fit, so he ripped off the label, wrote out a new one with your name on it and passed it off as a brilliant idea of his own.

I think the time spent choosing a gift is also part of the pleasure of receiving and giving – and when re-gifting you are somehow removing that “hunt”, the search for what is just right.

Will I stop re-gifting?  Probably not!  Would I be offended to receive a re-gifted gift? Most certainly!