And then, when I opened up the box I found a business card – belonging to someone other than the gift giver and in that instant I knew that the food processor had likely been a door prize at a fundraiser. I was the recipient of a regift.

I didn’t mind particularly, though it left me with the obligation to find a home for the food processor as I can’t stand having items in my own home that are neither being used or admired. I ultimately offered it up to charity. And made a mental note to ensure that my own re-gifting efforts were executed a bit more thoughtfully.

Regifting has its detractors, but I’m certainly not one of them. Even Miss Manners has weighed in on the side of regifting. So, I’m sure, has Mother Nature. The challenge, of course, lies in regifting judiciously. To simply pass along an unwanted gift seems a lot like dumping your garbage onto another’s lap for disposal. A gift should truly be an expression of thought and appreciation. If the body lotion you received via the office Secret Santa isn’t that for you then why might it be for someone else?

I have a regift cupboard in which I put gifts I’ve received that, while they might be nice, don’t match my taste or my needs. In that cupboard you’ll find lovely earrings (I haven’t taken my estate (reuse!) diamond studs out since my husband gave them to me 10 years ago), duplicate toys that my children were given, a wallet, a book that I’ve already read…

And I have my “Rules of Regifting”:

  • If you think the product is garbage (for example, personal care products teeming with toxins), don’t pass it along to someone else. That’s kinda like offering up a Trojan Horse, with an unpleasant surprise inside.
  • Choose the re-gift as carefully as you would choose a gift. I sometimes receive items that I don’t need – that wallet, for example – but is a really nice item I know another friend, whose wallet is, shall we say, long in the tooth, would love.
  • Be careful to remove any evidence of re-gifting, such as tags or worn-looking bows. And if a book has an inscription, it’s best not to regift.
  • And finally, regift with consideration not only to the planet, but to the recipient as well.


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Leslie Garrett contributor

Read more on: Environmental Health