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Seasons Repeatings: How to Regift and Not Get Caught

Published
By Lou Carlozo, Green Dad columnist for dealnews

Make it a Green Christmas, you say? That can go a long way past decking the halls with boughs of holly, piney wreaths and all that Yuletide verdure.

This Thursday marks National Regifting Day and finally, we have a contrived holiday that avoids making you needlessly consume — either by buying or eating. In fact, the message of National Regifting Day stresses quite the opposite: Consume less by passing on those ghosts, er, "gifts" of Christmas Past instead of buying more stuff.

Don’t worry about being typecast as the Secret Santa Scrooge of your workplace, either. The folks at Regiftable.com , which is promoting the itinerant holiday, insist you’ll land in good company this year. They proclaim: "In case you are hesitant to break tradition, you can rest assured that the majority (60%) of people think that regifting is becoming more accepted; the top reasons are to save some green."

Regiftable.com, in case you were wondering, is an extension of Money Management International — a fabulous non-profit group that knows how deep in debt people tend to get around the holidays. You can see how the "going green" theme gains an interesting twist here.

Because folks spend too much during most Decembers, and wind up paying a fortune in credit card interest charges, National Regifting Day focuses on a multi-level goal: Get people to spend less, consume less, and clear out closets of unwanted stuff that might just make a co-worker happy.

As for why the Regiftable folks chose Dec. 16, the NRD says: "This date is particularly appropriate since, according to our unscientific research, the third Thursday of December is the most common day for a holiday office party. And, according to our very scientific research, 4 in 10 regifters (41%) target coworkers as the recipients of their regifts."

"Scientific research," eh? Sounds like something we need to concoct an antidote for holiday fruitcake. At any rate, the folks at Regiftable.com have concluded thus:

  • Most people (62%) say they regift because they think the item is something the recipient would really like, up from 53% who answered similarly in 2005.
  • More than 4 in 10 people (42%) say that they regift to save money, up 27% since 2005 (when only 33% claimed to regift for monetary reasons).
  • One in four (25%) of people think regifting is becoming more acceptable because it is a way to save money on holiday expenses.
  • Another 14% believe that regifting is more acceptable because it is a method of recycling.

In case you’re wondering how to approach regifting without striking a sour note at the office bash, here are some hints to look bright while you make the season even brighter:

  1. If the item is even slightly used, do one of three things: a) restore it to pristine condition, b) work the "used" condition to your advantage (as a gag gift, for example), or c) repurpose the gift in some clever, creative way. Anyone up for swapping crania on bobbleheads?
  2. Don’t regift randomly. The burly boss who loves cigars probably wouldn’t appreciate dainty dishtowels, nor would your sports-oblivious colleague go for that Yankees pencil sharpener. If it’s really "the thought that counts," put plenty of thought into who’s getting what.
  3. If you’ve got a regift, flaunt it. Many office parties suffer from the pathetic patina of co-workers trying conjure enthusiasm for half-hearted giving. You could always enclose a note explaining National Regifting Day, and why you’re trying to make a difference without compromising on gift quality. (Enclosing a coffee shop gift card as a little bonus might not hurt, either.)
  4. Regift festively. Make the whole affair fun by doing an office silent auction on your regifts. Donate the money to a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, where it will go to excellent use. What’s more, a silent auction’s always fun, and bidders will no doubt be on the hunt for last-minute, gift-giving trinkets.

Now as for me, I’ve still got this unopened spice rack that I received as a wedding gift … 14 years ago. Calling all dealnews readers: What’s the statute of gift limitations on that?


Lou Carlozo is dealnews' new Green Dad columnist. He was most recently the managing editor of WalletPop.com, and before that a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune. Follow him on Twitter — @LouCarlozo63. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.


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