Pass the Parcel. Pros & cons of ‘regifting’.

New Year.  Traditionally, of course, a time for resolutions.  An opportunity to reshape our waistlines, recycle trees, cards and wrapping paper … and regift those unwanted presents.  

Come on now.  Don’t try to pretend you’ve never done it.  We’ve all let life overtake us and been caught unprepared for a friend’s birthday haven’t we?  When a visit to the shops is not an option time will allow, a visit to the cupboard of miscellanea where you keep all those presents from people that you will never use, is what comes to your rescue. Otherwise, the items would go to waste and you’d also look like a bad friend who forgot a birthday.  So, surely everyone’s a winner?

Or maybe you’re certain you have the perfect gift for your friend in that cupboard.  In fact, they’ve even mentioned it to you that it’s on their wish list.  The only reason you don’t use it, is because you received two from different well-wishers.   Then it’s definitely ok to ‘pass the parcel’ so to speak.  Am I right?

Well, it may not surprise you that in America there’s already a day dedicated to the practice.  National Regifting Day, I’m told, is the third Thursday in December. It’s held pre-Christmas as a unashamed way for people to save their pennies.  A money-saving web company started the concept as one of several ways recommended to consumers who are trying to avoid going into January in debt.

And I think they’re on to something.  It’s not such a big no-no.  After all, the headlines don’t let us forget that we are all living in times of austerity?  Regifting is certainly advantageous for our wallets.  And it’s far better for the environment too.  After all, what isn’t regifted has a high chance of ending up buried in landfill in the next big clear out. Personally, I think it is an acceptable practice.  But, like most things, there is etiquette to be followed.

First and foremost (and should really go without saying), the item must be unopened, unused and, if edible, within its best before date! Check those chocolate boxes!  However, it’s even hard to draw the line on this basic principle.  For instance, where do you stand on a half-decent bottle of wine that just looks a bit tatty?  It certainly ticks the aforementioned criteria – but can you really pass it off convincingly as vintage?  Therefore, approach this rule with caution.

To regift or not to regift? Would you dare?

To regift or not to regift? Would you dare?

The second rule is to make sure it really is something you think the recipient wants.  You should not regift because you don’t like it or want rid of it.  Though the one exception to this might be the office Secret Santa.  In this instance, a) the recipient will never know it was you and b) the chances are you will probably get a second-hand gift yourself.  What goes around comes around.

Thirdly – and very importantly – avoid regifting within the same social circle.  Unless you keep careful tabs, you are sure to offend someone at some point whether it’s one of your friends spotting you regifting their gift or by giving the pressie directly back to the person who gave it to you.   No good.

And finally, remember to always unwrap and re-wrap.  It’s a dead give-away when you receive a gift with a tag on wishing Aunt Sophie a very happy birthday!

If you are my friend and you are reading this, then you are no doubt thinking back to every birthday or Christmas and pondering if you may have been a regifting recipient.  But the beauty of it is, by following the prescribed etiquette, you will probably never know and yet you will have still got something you appreciated!  Let’s start a regifting revolution.

Remember you can read my column monthly in Cardiff Life magazine!


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