Regifting: Naughty or Nice?

January 7th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Regifting is getting a makeover. But is it the new responsibility, or the old cheapness?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Candles, knick-knacks, stationery, soap. Food that’s expired beyond all hope.

If you received it this past holiday season, there’s a good chance it was regifted. According to a recent survey by The Russell Research Partners, 68% of Americans say they’ve already done or have considered doing some regifting— the act of receiving an unwanted present and passing it off to someone else as new.

Regifting sins abound. The picture frame engraved with someone else’s memorable date. The carefully wrapped kitchen appliance with food stuck to it. The half-used gift card.

Long considered naughty, not nice, regifting is getting a makeover. Citing global warming and a need to recycle, the author of a new book about regifting enthuses that the practice should be “resurrected once again as a wonderful and responsible way to wage the war against the waste of unwanted gifts!”

But deep sentiments about the ethics of regifting circulate the web like virtual fruitcakes. “Hate regifting!” wrote a recipient. “It says you do not care about me enough to spend $20 and a little time.” “You lied,” said another, offended by those who’ve fobbed off the unwanted onto the unsuspecting. “I don’t want liars around me.”

Relax, one regifter said. It’s really about the economy. “I don’t have any money to buy a ‘new’ gift in the first place…Thoughtless? Hardly. Desperate times.” Another declared that “regifting is OK when the gift is something that you think the recipient will actually want.” “Giving a gift should NOT be a social burden,” one person summed up. “If we didn’t assume these burdens and gave a gift when we meant something by it, society as a whole would be taking a baby step toward consumerism recovery!”

Tell us what you think: Is regifting the new responsibility, or the old cheapness?