Americans will spend an average of $861 on Christmas gifts this year. Many people feel pressure during the holidays to give expensive gifts to express their affection. However, the message of Black Friday tells us that the actual cost doesn't matter, while ever popular homemade gifts make our time spent of utmost importance. It's all a confusing mindgame when materialism gets mistaken for affection. If we take price and prestige out of the equation, we would have more flexibility to give for giving's sake and to give something of genuine value to the other person.
Whether giving something handmade, regifted, or secondhand, the key is to know your audience and your intention. If you're trying to save money because you can't afford gifts, ask yourself why you feel like you need to give a gift. Friends and family will likely appreciate a heartfelt card, a nature hike, or a cup of coffee together just as much as they would a gift. If you love the specialness of handmade gifts and have skills to put to use, go for it. Hopefully, your recipients will use your gift and appreciate your time and effort. Since the term was first coined on Seinfeld (featuring a young and luxuriantly haired Bryan Cranston), regifting has becoming less of a taboo and some people suggest straight up divulging the regift. Again, know your audience and your intention. Unless it's a white elephant gift exchange, don't just try to pawn something unwanted onto someone else. However, if you know that they would love that label maker you'll never use, I say give it — even if Elaine wouldn't.
The trickiest territory is second hand items. Again, I'm not suggesting we pawn off candle nubs or broken iPods, but pass on items with plenty of life left that you know would be of more use to someone else. Reclaimed is all the rage and the sharing economy is certainly gaining popularity. We are willing to use other people's homes, cars, and clothes, so why still such a stigma around gifts? Think of the envy your friend has over your leather jacket or a special piece of jewelry. If something isn't adding value to your life, let it go to someone else who will use and appreciate it. If we see the worth in objects designed and produced by people with the energy and resources of the earth, and buy things of quality, we shouldn't have qualms about giving or receiving something used. Gently loved, as they say.
Ideally, you would not have anything you don't truly value to give away, but that's not realistic in our consumerist society. Good candidates for regifting include things that would end up in an antiques shop, like jewelry, furniture, records, books, prints, and kitchen items. But really anything in good condition could be given to the right person. Now, this will take some sleuthing on your part to match the right person with the right item, but it will be second nature once you get the hang of it. I also think it takes an acceptance of the fluidity of possessions. For example, heirloom pieces are prized because of the hands they have passed through and the history they represent. I hope we can do the same for second hand items given with the same thought and love.
People love thematic gifts, so I thought one way to overcome the stigma of second hand gifting would be to add to the gift within a theme. Take the second hand item and build on it as much or as little as you like. Of course, ethically sourced is best and a great way to support your community is to buy locally. The additions don't need to be expensive, just chosen with care.
Let's go through some examples.
The Regift: Uncracked Cookbook
How many of us have bought a cookbook thinking we would make all the things only to never even crack it open? Surely it's not just me. Why not gift it to your culinarily inclined friend? Make the whole gift thematic and special by adding cloth napkins, spices from a local shop, a cutting board, or some other kitchen items to the package.
Add Something Special:
The Regift: Miles-to-go Backpack
This is actually a real example for me. After living quite transiently as a college students and abroad in China, Nathan and I owned several backpacks that still had lots of life in them. Backpacks aren't cheap, but they are useful and (most of the time) very durable. I gave one to my brother, but just as easily could have created an outdoor themed gift by adding a blanket, a campfire gadget, or anything from Juniper Ridge.
Add Something Special:
The Regift: Vintage Bar Tools
Sometimes I get a little carried away when vintage shopping and end up with items I don't really need. I've given plenty of things away to people and charity shops. If the stars align, I might have something that a friend needs at just the right time. This is a great idea for a housewarming gift as well. Make a cute package out of a vintage bar item with recycled glassware, coasters, or even a good bottle of whiskey.
Add Something Special:
The Regift: Flawless Beauty Gadget
Some might balk at this one, but it's another real example: I bought a Clarisonic on a whim only to find that my sensitive skin couldn't tolerate it. I kept trying it on and off until it was no longer eligible for return and I was stuck with it. I finally gave it away, but could have made it into a gift (it was in perfect condition!) for the right person if I bought new brushes. To make it special, I would add in some clean beauty items like facial oil or a salt scrub. This is one instance where I would probably tell the recipient that I had used it, but thought they might get more use out of it. Again, know your audience.
Add Something Special:
Still not comfortable with the idea of regifting? Have a regifting party so that everyone is in on it. These are great for community or office parties. In fact, the third Thursday in December is National Regifting Day because it's the most common day for office parties.
If you have things you don't want but they aren't a good fit for anyone, consider selling them for money for new gifts. Newer and designer clothes have value online or in consignment shops, books can be sold for a new book, and other items can be sold on ebay or Etsy. If it doesn't have much resale worth, post in on Yerdle and then keep an eye out there for an item you can gift.
Most of all, remember that it truly is the thought that counts.
What do you think? Would you regift?
This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy anything through the link (it doesn't change the amount you pay). I only include brands that I believe in, that I would use myself, or think might be of interest to you.