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Saving Money on Gifts – Is Re-Gifting Morally Bankrupt?

Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown

Re-gifting, the act of taking a gift that has been given to yourself, rewrapping and giving it to another.   It’s been the subject of many a sitcom and novelty holiday news item in the past few years.    But for those who have taken a vow of frugal living the question remains, is it a valid and victimless way to save money on gifts or is it just morally bankrupt?

Well, let’s take a closer look shall we?  (Please note:  I write this with a smile on my face and my tongue in my cheek – I hope that is how you will read it as well.)

The main dilemma comes, I believe, not from the gift itself but from the person who gave it to you and the intent/thought/effort behind it.  For many, the gift is a symbol of the giver’s love and respect – re-gifting then, is like taking that person’s love and respect for you, ripping it into tiny little pieces, stomping all over it and throwing it away.   Based on that reasoning, the closer the person is to you, the less acceptable the act of re-gifting.

For example, re-gifting a box of chocolates given by an acquaintance as a token acknowledgement of a particular occasion – fine.  However, re-gifting a handkerchief which your grandmother spent hours upon hours lovingly hand embroidering – well, quite frankly, you have no soul.

Of course others would argue, that once the “symbol of love and respect” has been exchanged, the matter of the material gift itself and it’s future fate is actually immaterial.

So here are the Rules of Thumb for Re-Gifting as I see them:

  1. Who gave you the gift?  And Why?
  2. Keep Good Records - If you wish to re-gift without being discovered, it’s important you know, not only WHO gave it to you, but also, WHO ELSE knows you received it?
  3. Stick to re-gifting generics – regifting chocolates, wine and other consumables is much less likely to be detected by the giver.
  4. Beware of Books – always check the inside cover in case the giver has written you a personal dedication. (Big whoops!)

Of course, there are other gifting dilemmas like how LONG must you keep a gift you really don’t like or can’t use, before it’s OK to put it in a garage sale?     Let’s save that one for another time.

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