Is regifting okay?


Fact Box

  • National Regifting Day falls on the third Thursday in December, a day chosen because, statistically, that is when most office holiday parties tend to occur and when the opportunity to regift is highest. 
  • A recent survey revealed that over 50% of new couples would consider regifting in order to save money around the holidays.
  • According to a recent poll, housewares are the most likely items to be regifted.
  • In a 2015 study, Fairleigh Dickinson University researchers uncovered the four types of regifting: altruistic, pragmatic, playful, and retaliatory.

Bre (Yes)

Regifting has become increasingly popular, even commonplace, with measurable advantages extending beyond recipients. With cost-saving and conservation arguably more justifiable than ever, the resourcefulness, thrift, and eco-consciousness that regifting demonstrates are especially appropriate today.

In a thriving regifting economy, consumer goods are channeled to their most efficient purposes, reducing overproduction and waste. Regifting is recycling, combating the unsustainably finite supply-and-demand chain wreaking havoc on our ecosystem. Plus, passing unwanted gifts to others is virtuous, as well-meaning motives, such as altruism or pragmatism, are behind the practice. It's impossible always to know what's best, so the ideal gift giver encourages recipients to do with gifts whatever they please, removing unnecessary taboo or guilt. Still, without this endorsement, regifters can mitigate any risk of hurt feelings by merely not passing the gift on within the same social circle.

Notably, several studies show gift-givers aren't offended by regifting, viewing ownership as transferred, and far preferring it to the possibility of the gift being thrown away. Receivers, however, mistakenly believe givers keep some say in the gift's outcome. This asymmetry surrounding entitlement demonstrates that the stigma placed on the practice is self-imposed and unfounded. To challenge this, National Regifting Day was designed as an intervention, successfully normalizing the behavior.

When receiving a gift, there are many reasons to be thankful, regardless of the item's usefulness or desirability--the gesture alone is worth appreciating. Further, there is no obligation to keep a gift once it’s been received, and no shame in passing gifts along to those who'll appreciate them more, as the act is a thoughtful and practical extension of the original kindness to the 'giftee' and the planet.

Maha (No)

Regifting is a rather fancy way to describe giving an unwanted gift to the next victim. 

While there may be economic and environmental benefits attributed to the act, these aren't the primary motivations behind regifting. Instead, six of the ten reasons why people regift could be classified as selfish and inconsiderate.  

The authority on good etiquette, The Emily Post Institute, also deems the practice 'inherently deceitful,' as givers tell a partial truth and display a lack of thoughtfulness or effort. 

Another reason to avoid regifting is putting an end to the vicious cycle of unwanted gifts moving from one person to another. A study on people's gifting habits during Christmas revealed that 18% of gifts aren't used, and 4% end up in the trash. The gifts which are regifted may be useless to their new recipients, as 39% of gifts are explicitly bought with the original recipients in mind. Therefore, they, too, will be passed on to another. 

However, the biggest reason to not regift is hurting the giver's feelings. 

People give gifts for specific reasons, including expressing love and showing appreciation and care. Therefore, givers happily invest time and money in their gifts. During the holiday season alone, gift-givers can exceed their spending budgets and take on debts.

For those who believe they can get away with it, statistics show otherwise. The top three recipients of regifts are within the initial recipient's social circle: coworkers (33%), friends (29%), and siblings (20%). Moreover, 55% of people opt for we-gifts or gifts which they can share.

So, if honesty with the giver isn't an option, it's important to consider other options, such as donating a gift rather than regifting it.

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