During the holidays, we’re all a little strapped for cash and looking for cheap ways to please everyone on our gift list. We’ve all thought about how easy it would be to take the hotdog toaster still in its original box and wrap it back up like new for an unsuspecting receiver. This year, why not do it?
Seinfeld featured the controversial practice in an episode, and years later, it showed up in the movie “Old School,” where Luke Wilson gives pal Will Ferrell a wedding present, only to have Ferrell try to give it to Wilson as a housewarming gift.
Zarine Torrey of West Bloomfield has seen life imitate art. “I had a friend that did it, and she forgot to take off the tag,” Torrey says. ”And she gave the same gift to the same person she got it from.” A fatal error, but a common one made by regifting rookies.
Kat Takacs finds that some regifting rituals are more like traditions than last-minute “oops, I forgot to buy something for my brother-in-law” sort of thing. Her father and uncle both have December birthdays, and each year they give each other two gifts: the exact same check and greeting card. For fifteen years.
“It’s obviously a huge joke in our family, not a serious ‘regifting’, but more of a tradition,” she said.
So, how do you go about regifting without looking like a total jackass?
First, wait for a gift-giving occasion. Christmas or birthdays are the best times, when the receiver will surely be ripping through present after present, leaving little time for them to discover your secret. Personally, this is also a wonderful time to collect future presents to re-gift later. Once the celebration is over, look over your cache of gifts. Which ones will you never use? Which gifts would you be too embarrassed to even hide in your closet?
Once you decide on which gifts to pass off on to someone else, it’s time to freshen them up. Scrub off any dust. Spit-shine as best as you can. Oh, and be sure to use new wrapping paper. Nothing says regifting louder than used wrapping or packaging.
After the person opens the regifted present, be sure to honor their fake surprise by saying, “I know this was something you had your eye on!” But, be sure they were not around when you originally received the gift, another rookie mistake.
Remember, regifting does not have to have the stigma of passing around a fruitcake for ten years, nor does it have to be something you are ashamed of doing. Torrey says regifting is not a bad thing if everyone is happy in the end. “If the re-gifting is okay with both parties, or all involved, I don’t see a problem with it.”
Takacs agrees. When a boyfriend gave her a gold necklace, she decided it was not for her and gave it to her niece. Her niece knew it was originally from Takac’s boyfriend, but that did not cause any problems.
“I don’t wear gold,” Takac said, “so I’d rather it belong to someone who will or does.”
The key is to not overdo it. If you do re-gift once in a long while, no one will be hurt, especially if they actually end up liking the new-to-them presents. Plus, it clears out some space for the next batch of presents you’ll never use, until, of course, the next holiday season rolls around.

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