This week, I discussed regifting with Kate Garraway on Good Morning Britain. As you do.
It all started because I put my pennyworth into this blog post by Helen, over at The Complaining Cow, all about what to do with unwanted Christmas presents. Check out the post for some great ideas including regifting, selling, swapping, upcycling, renting and donating.
Then Good Morning Britain asked if I’d come and debate “Is it wrong to regift?” with Grant Harrold, former butler to Princes Charles, William and Harry.
(Short answer: no)
But according to Grant, you shouldn’t pass on presents to someone else or ‘heaven forbid’ put them on eBay. Instead, you should keep every gift, even the ones you don’t like, and display them when the donor comes round.
You can check out the debate here:
Why regifting is great
Now I reckon regifting gets a bad press. Some people think regifting is rude, because you’re rejecting a present someone has given you. Thoughtless, because you’re not choosing something specifically for a person when passing on a present. Mean, because you haven’t forked out on a new gift.
But personally, I think regifting is great, and here are my top 11 reasons why:
1. Save space
We don’t all live in royal palaces, with the space to keep every single gift we’ve ever been given. Combine years of presents for a family of four, and we’d disappear under a mountain of generosity if we kept it all. Plus for most of us mere mortals, giving away that Boots three-for-two toiletry set from Aunt Gladys is unlikely to cause a major diplomatic incident.
2. Clear the clutter
Living in a unclutted home is calmer and way easier to clean. (One day I might even manage it myself). Removing stuff you don’t want and won’t use is a great start.
3. Wage war on waste
Surely it’s better to pass on gifts to someone who will benefit, than leave them to gather dust, before chucking them in the bin? The idea that unwanted presents might go into landfill, rather than being used and enjoyed, offends my frugal soul. Just because you might not use, for example, bubble bath or body lotion because of sensitive skin, doesn’t mean someone else won’t like them.
4. Double the love
Actually, I reckon keeping unwanted presents is selfish, when someone else might love them. If you sell or exchange gifts, you could also get something that would benefit the whole family. Spread the joy!
5. Get rid of the guilt
It’s a shame, but there are some presents, given with the best of intentions, that I just don’t like. If unwanted presents give you a stab of guilt when you spot them stashed at the back of the cupboard – don’t keep them! Most people give presents to bring pleasure, not make you feel bad, so far better to pass on, sell or swap unwanted gifts.
6. Give better presents
If I’m given something I don’t like, but know someone else will love, regifting can mean they end up with a more generous present than if I’d bought it myself. I’d hope to take the same care with regifting as I would when buying new presents. This means making sure any gift suits the recipient – not shoving a packet of American tan tights at a teenager.
Personally, I don’t measure how much people love me by how much money they spend on presents. It worries me when people spend money they can’t afford on extravagant gifts. Small and thoughtful is wonderful – and regifting doesn’t mean a lack of thought. Same with second hand presents. If the recipient then gets something they like and wouldn’t get otherwise, go for it.
7. Avoid duplicates
Duplicates are a prime candidate for regifting. My son was given two versions of Junior Monopoly one Christmas. It was a great present, because we love playing it, but no one needs two of the same game. I wrapped up one for his friend’s birthday, so someone else could enjoy it too. I don’t see any point in keeping for example clothes that are the wrong size, or toys too young for your children, if you can return, sell or regift them. Top tip: dive in and rescue anything you might want to pass on, so the packaging stays in great condition.
8. Stash some cash
Some see selling unwanted presents as particularly ungrateful. But I’m not suggesting cashing in every present you’re given, or ripping beloved toys from your offspring’s hands. If it’s something you don’t like, won’t use, and the donor doesn’t want back – why not?
If I was more organised, I would raise extra cash by selling unwanted stuff. Massive sites like eBay can get the best prices, but you have to allow for selling fees, postage and packaging. (More on online auctions in my post for the Money Advice Service).
You can list for free on local Facebook selling pages or Gumtree, and cut out postage costs if people collect from your door. However, do be tactful. Avoid posting on Facebook straight after Christmas, if your Facebook friends might spot their present for sale.
If you have a lot of items, try taking part in a car boot sale or yard sale (here’s my post with tips for a successful yard sale).
9. Help in hard times
Keeping unwanted presents can be luxury when times are tight. December and January are financially tough for many families. I’ve blogged before about the surge in food bank referrals during December. People who get paid early before Christmas then wait longer than normal for their January pay packet, just as Christmas credit card bills hit. If selling, returning or regifting unwanted presents means you can afford to put food on the table, or chip away at debt, it’s got to be worth it.
10. Be sensitive about people’s feelings
Some people see passing on unwanted presents as the height of bad manners, for not liking a present someone was kind enough to give you. But we’re not all mind readers, and we don’t always know what people have already. It’s impossible to give the right present every time. If I’m given something I won’t use, I can still be grateful for the kind thought, thank the donor, and never let them know I didn’t like it. But to me, insisting unwanted presents are used and displayed seems rather controlling. As a gift giver, I’d hate it if people kept presents they didn’t like.
Occasionally, I’ve blessed people for including a gift receipt, so I could return duplicate items – but I wouldn’t demand a receipt it if wasn’t included. When people give us sentimental objects, like passing on baby clothes or equipment, I would always ask if they want them back before passing them on in turn. If there’s any risk you might forget who gave you something, and give it straight back to them, make sure you keep a list or stick a post it on the packaging with the donor’s name.
11. Support good causes
If you baulk at selling, returning or regifting unwanted presents, how about supporting good causes?
- Drop off stuff at your local charity shop
- Donate as prizes for raffles or tombolas run by your school, church, cubs or other group
- Give food and toiletries to a local food bank
Even sticklers for politeness can condone passing on presents when it’s all for charidee.
Now over to you. Where do you stand on unwanted presents? Do you keep everything you’re given? Where do you draw the line: OK to donate, but not to regift or sell? Do say in the comments, I’d love to know your views!