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The Color of Money

There’s no shame in regifting, as long as you adhere to a few key rules

By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post / November 29, 2009

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Given the state of the economy and your bank account, purchasing gifts for certain friends and family may not be possible this holiday season.

But no need to worry if that is your situation. Surely you have nice but unused gifts stashed around your home. If so, pull them out to do what in the past might have been unthinkable - regift.

More Americans this year are planning on regifting, according to a Consumer Reports survey. The poll found that 36 percent of US adults said they would recycle a gift, compared with 31 percent last year and 24 percent in 2007.

There should be no shame in this money saving strategy, says Jodi Newbern, author of “Regifting Revival! A Guide to Reusing Gifts Graciously.’’

I’ve always advocated regifting. So I’ve chosen Newbern’s book for the December pick for the Color of Money Book Club. Newbern has written a fantastic how-to guide that just may win over many opponents of regifting. The 161-page book is part persuasion, part manual. She promises - and delivers - a “definitive source for all things regiftable.’’

Cate Williams, of Money Management International, a nonprofit credit-counseling agency, notes that regifting is becoming a phenomenon. MMI has even created a website that provides a forum for fans and foes of the practice. For the third year, MMI is soliciting regifting stories on the site (www.regiftable.com). The contest ends Dec. 31.

After reading the entries posted so far, there are definitely a lot of people who need to read Newbern’s book.

Pamela A. from Duluth, Minn., should buy the book to give to a bad regifter in her life. She wrote: “I gave my dad’s girlfriend, who is cat crazy . . . a beautiful couch throw that I had hunted for months to find for her. . . . She used it for months. Imagine my surprise, when on Christmas morning five years ago, I opened my gift from her and found this comforter staring up at me . . . ! (She) smiled joyfully and asked me how I liked her gift, and I told her that I had loved it when I gave it to her.’’

For the novice regifter, Newbern provides a template for a gift inventory log. The biggest “don’t’’ in regifting is giving a gift back to someone who gave it to you. For the regift pro, “Regifting Revival’’ may provide you with new techniques. For example, I love the sample regift receipt. In part, it says: “This (Re) Gift Receipt has been given to you, along with your gift, to allow you the option to graciously regift this to anyone else, should you choose to do so, for any reason whatsoever, without guilt or shame.’’

Opponents of regifting argue that it is inconsiderate or insulting to recycle a gift. That can be true if the gift isn’t well presented and is unsuitable for the recipient. But does something have to be newly purchased to be appropriate and appreciated? If your intentions are good and you do this right, you can graciously regift without any resulting hurt feelings.

Michelle Singletary is a columnist for The Washington Post. She can be reached at singletarym@washpost.com.

SOURCE: Bloomberg News