Wednesday, November 29, 2006

12 Rules for "Regifting" without Fear

I Just Read This......
12 rules for 'regifting' without fear

If you're going to do it (and it's more common than you think), please update the wrapping -- and remove the old gift card.
There are only three reasons you might be reading this column:
You think "regifting" is totally tacky, but you secretly hope there might be a polite way to get rid of that hideous scarf your Aunt Edna gave you.
You're a chronic regifter and you need some new ideas to get you through the holidays.
You've never heard of regifting. Really. You're just curious.
Welcome, one and all, to a frank discussion of a grand old holiday tradition we all practice and pretend we don't. (That includes you fibbers who picked No. 3!) Even Peggy Post, etiquette advice columnist for Good Housekeeping, admits she's done it.
"I was given two copies of a book, and I gave a copy to my mother-in-law," reports the author of the new 17th edition of "Emily Post's Etiquette." "(I) just said, 'Hey, I got two copies of this book. Would you like one?'"
The fine art of regifting
Like Post (who is the granddaughter-in-law of etiquette czarina Emily), I have no qualms about regifting when done properly. Carried out carelessly, regifting is a recipe for public humiliation and long-held grudges. Done with finesse and tact, regifting can be a happy holiday experience for all -- providing you follow these few do's and don'ts. Starting with: DO take out the previous gift card. Duh.
A dozen rules for regifters:
Don't mention it, please. While Post believes that "the best approach is to be upfront" when regifting, I have to ask: Why spoil the moment? If you tell your sister-in-law, in so many words, "I have no use for this nasty vase, so I'm giving it to you," even a person in need of a vase will hate you. I say, keep your yap shut unless there's a good reason not to.
Do update the wrapping. The next most common regifting faux pas, after leaving the previous gift card attached, is to regift in the original, now crinkled and possibly torn (hello!?) wrapping paper or box. If the phrase "Hey, it looks almost new" crosses your desperate holiday brain, remember that it's the "almost" that's a dead giveaway to the new giftee.
Don't give hand-me-downs as regifts. Novice regifters (and those who are terminally tacky) often get these two categories confused. Don't. A hand-me-down is an item you've already used that you'd like to pass along to someone who will enjoy it and use it more than you will. For example, a sweater you've removed the tags from and worn twice. You could wrap it up and give it as a "gift" only as long as another real gift is provided. A regift should be just that: a gift you've never used that you're giving away as though it were a . . . real gift!
Do keep track of who gave it to you first. In her useful article on this topic, Joyce Moseley Pierce recommends creating a stash of regifting items you can always use in a pinch. I say, OK, but keep a small notebook of who gave you what. I had a harrowing experience that involved regifting a pair of earrings to a cousin -- who had given them to me two years before. I forgot. She remembered. And she let me know about it.
Don't EVER regift these items. Certain items are a total, dead, instant giveaway that you are not only regifting, but you're too lame to put any effort into it: candles, soap, random books, mysterious CDs (unless your brother wants the hip-hop version of "Man of La Mancha"), obscure software, cheesy jewelry, scarves (do we not all own a scarf?), fruitcake, pens, cologne, boxed sets of extinct bath products (Jean Nate? No, no, no), videos or DVDs obviously acquired on a street corner, socks and any appliances or electronic gear the giftee would be puzzled to receive because they probably just got rid of it (including hot-air popcorn poppers and anything with a cassette deck in it).
Do have the courtesy to clean your regifts. I once got a rice cooker . . . with a couple of kernels of rice still clinging to it. Some hand-me-downs can be passed off as regifts if the packaging is intact, like the wine glasses you've belatedly decided to share with a loved one. Just wash the lipstick off the rim, 'kay?
Don't give partially used gift cards. As technology pushes the envelope of regifting possibilities, the chance of looking like a ninny only grows. Don't give a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble that only has $14.56 left on it. Would you give a pie with a slice taken out of it? We hope not.
Do remember that regifts can be funny. A friend of mine said that when he was younger, he and his sister would jokingly regift the same two board games back and forth to each other. If you think a friend would get a good laugh out of, say, a regifted self-help book, go for it -- as long as you make the prank clear.
Don't give something you've owned for a while. Not only is this in violation of the hand-me-down rule above, the giftee can and will recognize that picture frame from your living room shelf. (And while you're at it, don't regift picture frames, either.)
Do regift champagne. You know the joke about fruitcake: There are only two fruitcakes made each year, and we just keep foisting them off on each other. The same is true of the 11 bottles of champagne that circulate during the holidays. But there are never hard feelings from regifting a bottle of bubbly, unless it's really cheap or given to a confirmed teetotaler. Eventually it will find a happy, champagne-guzzling home.
Don't give products from defunct companies. Someone gave to my husband and me a lovely crystal decanter from a department store that no longer exists. The decanter is a classic. It was just a little depressing to think it had been in someone's closet for that long.
Do sell your gifts on eBay. When someone first told me that rather than regift, they sell unwanted presents on eBay -- and use the proceeds to buy real gifts, I was awed. Then I realized everyone is doing it. "My father gave my brother a boxed set of Kurosawa films, which my brother promptly sold for a pretty penny on eBay," one woman told me. So THAT'S where all that stuff comes from.
Well, it's about time for you and me to start rewrapping some of last year's presents, eh? But before you go, let me add that whether you find this column cynical, shocking or brimming with useful ideas -- it's just the natural next step for an over-gifted society. Ever since the term "regifting" was introduced on "Seinfeld" in 1995 (see a snippet of the script), what was once a dirty little secret has become a way of life, and not a bad way to save money.
Of course, it's only a matter of time before someone does to regifting what eBay did with online auctions. Last year, one William Dodd obtained a patent on a new regifting technology that lets you regift something before you've even received it. (I'm not making this up!) Soon, that scarf you bought online for Jane could be virtually regifted via e-mail. ("Happy Holidays, Jane -- Vera has sent you this lovely scarf"). Then Jane will either accept it or instantly regift it.
The only hitch is that a gift, unlike fruitcake, can't circulate forever. It's like the children's game Hot Potato: When time runs out, the loser has to keep the present.

Mark is the Chief Sales Officer of SCT Product Sales.
We have been in business 15 years, online for 8 & a Power Seller
on eBay for 4 years with annual eBay sales of $1,000,000.

1 comment:

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