Regifting: Forgivable or Faux Pas?


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I witnessed something happen at a bridal shower that was so mortifying that this is the first time I’ve told the story. It was so mortifying, in fact, that even writing about it is mortifying.

It was 2007 and Shelby (whose name isn’t Shelby) was elated about her bridal shower, the first in a string of what would be fabulous events prior to her June wedding. There were around 40 guests at this shower, comprised of Shelby’s mother, grandmothers, future in-laws, great aunts, hometown girlfriends, and sorority sisters. After the cocktails were served, brunch was eaten, and games were played, everyone sat in a large circle around the bride-to-be as she opened gifts. Per custom, Shelby read each bridal shower card aloud and announced who the gift was from before she opened it. (Cue the oohs and aahs). The third gift was immediately recognizable, a large square blue box from Tiffany’s that was tied with a perfect white ribbon. Inside the box was a gorgeous crystal pitcher and Shelby’s friend, Caroline, beamed as Shelby read her bridal shower card and announced that it was from her. As this was happening, I thought to myself “Wow, Caroline is about to get married and finish grad school in a couple months, this is a generous shower gift!” Before Shelby moved onto the next gift, she stopped and said, “Wait… I see another card.” Tucked inside the pitcher was a tiny white envelope that was 2″ wide by 2″ tall. Shelby opened the envelope, and inside was a card that contained typewriter-style font, which Shelby read out loud: “Dear Caroline, wishing you and Bobby many years of love in your marriage. Jim and Patricia Perkins.”

Nobody knew what to say. Nobody knew what to do or how to react. Everyone was speechless, including poor Shelby, who probably wished she never accidentally discovered the card to begin with. Caroline was silent and her cheeks were scarlet. She was just red-handedly caught regifting.

We’ve all been victims of regifting. I have a girlfriend who received a used ceramic “vase” as  wedding gift, which we all swear was an urn. I think most of us have also been guilty of regifting, though not to the same extreme as poor Caroline. For example, you received two copies of Goodnight Moon for your baby shower, so you gave your extra copy to someone else at their baby shower.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with regifting. And so we are all on the same page, my definition of regifting is giving away a new, unused item, that somebody purchased for you to somebody else under the guise that you purchased it for them. Regifting, to me, is not giving a used hand-me-down as a gift. (I mean, I appreciate hand-me-downs, but just don’t wrap them and represent that the items are new). I realize it gets incredibly expensive and time consuming to routinely attend bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, and kids’ birthday parties. If Little Susie received two Sparkle Studio Barbies at her birthday party, I wouldn’t be offended if I found out that Susie’s mom wrapped one of them and gave it to my child as a gift at her birthday party. No harm, no foul. I think it’s nice that people take time out of their schedules to attend these events and don’t believe people should be fixated on the gifts they receive. (Unless, of course, we’re talking about a wedding and a guest doesn’t give a gift at all- not even a card- which I find despicable).

Evidently, most Americans agree with my position on regifting. In 2012, The Huffington Post cited a survey initiated by CreditDonkey.com (sounds legit) where 83% of respondents said they wouldn’t mind receiving a resifted present. Further, about half of the 1,125 adult Americans polled in the survey said they suspected they had received a regift in the past. However, only 35% of survey respondents admitted to regifting something.

Emily Post disagrees with my stance on regifting. According to her, it’s “not really” acceptable to pass along a gift you’ve received to someone else. She believes that gifts should be recycled rarely and only under the following circumstances: 1) You’re certain the gift is something the recipient would really like to receive; 2) The gift is brand new and comes with the original box and instructions; and 3) The gift isn’t one that the original giver took great care to select or make. In other words- you have to make sure you don’t hurt feelings, either the original giver’s or the recipient’s. (Emily Post is my go-to for scenarios when I am tempted to do something tacky, and you can purchase her most popular book here).

What do you think? Is regifting a forgivable offense or a faux pas? Is it greedy and selfish to expect people to attend your event with a brand spanking new gift, let alone any gift at all?

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    18 Comments on Regifting: Forgivable or Faux Pas?

    1. Nicole
      June 11, 2015 at 11:29 am (4 years ago)

      Hmmm…this is a tough one. Personally I see no problem with re-gifting a new and unused item, assuming it’s an appropriate gift in the first place. The way I see it: If I give someone a gift and they then re-gift it – I gave them an even better gift: the gift of time. I made something easier for them and gave them one less thing to think about and one less thing to buy, and on top of that, someone else got the gift I purchased which means it is less likely to sit and waste away (since the fact that it was re-gifted in the first place means it probably wasn’t the best choice for the original recipient). Thanks for sharing at our #HomeMattersParty this week!

      Reply
      • jenniferdaku
        June 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm (4 years ago)

        All great points, thanks for sharing, Nicole. I don’t mind re-gifts either, as long as it’s something I can use.

        Reply
    2. Mila
      June 8, 2015 at 9:35 am (4 years ago)

      Poor Caroline! She meant well 🙂

      Reply
    3. Steph
      June 4, 2015 at 12:30 pm (4 years ago)

      I agree with you….care should be given not to make it obvious though.

      Reply
    4. wendy
      June 4, 2015 at 11:49 am (4 years ago)

      I agree with you and Emily! As long as you put the thought and effort into the gift and you know it is something the recipient would love (and of course, it is still new, etc!), I don’t have a problem with it. With one caveat: make sure you don’t regift it to the person who gave it to you! Yep, that has happened to me twice, from the same person!
      At my wedding shower, I received an old, cracked bowl (emphasis on OLD), and the card was a Christmas card with the signature cut out off it. That’s when a sense of humor and knowledge of the person and gratitude that they came to your shower makes everything alright. I did mention sense of humor, right?? 😉

      Reply
      • wendy
        June 4, 2015 at 11:50 am (4 years ago)

        Oops, forgot to mention I’m stopping by from #ThisIsHowWeRoll Thursday!

        Reply
      • jenniferdaku
        June 6, 2015 at 10:44 am (4 years ago)

        LOL, I love your attitude. I agree that it’s the thought that counts, as not everyone is in a financial situation that allows them to buy presents without an economic strain. It’s nice they took the time out of their weekend to come to the shower, but cracked bowl… come on! Thanks for stopping by, Wendy!

        Reply
    5. Stella Lee@ Purfylle
      June 2, 2015 at 10:26 pm (4 years ago)

      Personally I think it’s awful to read out all the cards and open the gifts at the party. It is bound to be uncomfortable for those guests with a smaller budget. I also think a regifted gift is the best kind and gifts the future of our planet for our kids as well as the recipient.

      Reply
    6. mary beth @ www.mbzinteriors.com
      June 1, 2015 at 11:01 am (4 years ago)

      I definitely agree that if it something the recipient would definitely want, go ahead and regift. If your friend likes bowls with geese painted on them but you don’t and you received a brand new one, go ahead and regift. But most of the time, I’d say there’s probably little place where it would be appropriate. Good conversation, thanks

      Reply
      • jenniferdaku
        June 1, 2015 at 12:02 pm (4 years ago)

        Thanks for stopping by, Mary Beth! I’m sure there isn’t too big a market for geese bowls (thank goodness). Can’t wait to check out your blog!

        Reply
    7. Meg
      April 7, 2015 at 7:26 am (5 years ago)

      This EXACT thing happened to me at my bridal shower except I didn’t find the card until later. But they were beautiful Tiffany candlesticks from a friend whom I guess either received a duplicate pair or didn’t like them. I loved them but the only thing that bothered me was that she didn’t even rewrap the tissue in a way to make it seem new. It was like the gift for me was an after-thought.

      Reply
      • jenniferdaku
        April 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm (5 years ago)

        Man, talk about not making an effort. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by. At least you received some fancy candlesticks out of the deal. Cheers!

        Reply
    8. lisa M
      March 18, 2015 at 7:56 pm (5 years ago)

      I received 2 re-gifts from the same person! One at my shower and the other at our wedding. The thing is, as a former photographer I’m always snapping pictures and I was a her bridal shower. I have pictures of her opening both gifts! They were not things we would like (one was a set of wineglasses and we don’t drink) The other boxe was damaged in several places like it had been in the way for the past year since her shower! lol

      I think it is ok to re-gift, but in moderation and put some thought into it!

      ~L

      Reply
      • jenniferdaku
        March 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm (5 years ago)

        Ok Lisa, that story is HILARIOUS. Talk about being busted. At least you have a good sense of humor about it. I think in the long run, a re-gift is no big deal, especially when you can use it.

        Reply
    9. Julie
      March 18, 2015 at 6:44 pm (5 years ago)

      I thought this is just what everyone does! Just seems like good sense to me. I do agree that it should be something you actually think the next recipient will want but if you already have one/have something similar/will never use it it’s just sensible (always check for cards though!)

      Reply
      • jenniferdaku
        March 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm (5 years ago)

        Yes! The moral of the story: check for cards!

        Reply
    10. Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It
      March 16, 2015 at 11:59 pm (5 years ago)

      I’m all over re-gifting! It just makes sense to pass the gift along to someone who would actually use it. I can’t say I’ve had many opportunities to re-gift though. My favorite is using a gift card to purchase an item for someone … not sure if that is really re-gifting though;0)

      Reply
    11. Sara Glomski
      March 16, 2015 at 10:04 pm (5 years ago)

      I have the same view as you! As long as it’s new and unused, I don’t mind getting a re-gift! If it’s not something I’m interested in, the re-gifting continues…haha

      Reply

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