Regifting This Holiday Season
By Curtis Harding
Regifting. Once the source of mockery, it’s become far more socially acceptable in recent years. According to one recent survey, up to 83% of people polled were perfectly fine with the practice. And these days, everyone from HuffPost and CNN to the Wall Street Journal happily weigh in with regifting “rules.” But the practice isn’t without its detractors. An acquaintance recently informed me that if I thought there was anything positive about regifting, I didn’t understand it.
The truth is, when done right, regifting is capable of so much good. For one thing, there are the green benefits. The practice can cut down on production and packaging and keep unwanted items from filling up our landfills. But you can’t just regift something to get rid of it. Give it to someone who doesn’t need or want it, and it’s likely to end up in the trash you saved it from. That’s where thoughtful regifting comes into play — and it’s where the benefits of regifting can push beyond decluttering and recycling.
My coworker, for instance, got some unique work swag at the beginning of the pandemic: a mini-fridge full of bottled water. It was a nice enough gesture for those stuck at home during lockdown… but she didn’t really have much use for it. Then this past summer she was going to a baby shower when she learned the new parents needed something small to keep breast milk and refrigerated medicine handy. She was upfront about regifting, and they were thrilled with the mini-fridge.
But the practice doesn’t have to be relegated to helping those you know. There are always families in need and local organizations that could use a gift you might have no interest in. And even if you recycle a gift to friends or family, you can still help out in your community. Just donate the cost of the present to your favorite local charity and you’ve got double the gift for the price of one.
And sometimes, as I just learned myself, if you think outside the box, you could even build a sense of community and togetherness from the ground up. A friend of mine told me a story recently about how his ex sent him flowers. He wasn’t entirely comfortable with the gesture, but didn’t want to just toss a present that was, for better or worse, meant to be caring. Instead, he decided to do something good with the unexpected gift.
“I put them in a vase,” he told me, “and tied a ribbon around them.” He then placed them at the door of his new neighbor and attached a note that read simply, “A housewarming from 3B.”
Later, my friend found a note on his own door. It was from his new neighbor. She thanked him and wrote that she’d just moved to his building because of a breakup. It must have been such an overwhelming, lost feeling to have to start over because of heartbreak, but when she got the flowers welcoming her to her new home, she was so touched that she cried. As my friend wonderfully put it, “I like the idea that his show of love still warmed somebody’s house.”
When done with care and intention, regifting can be a beautifully green way to spread some joy, help those in need, and strengthen a sense of community.
DOB provides access to a community of small, sustainable, inclusive and local businesses. Supporting your own local small business this holiday season benefits you and your community. Get out and discover locally owned restaurants, clothing stores, specialty shops, thrift stores, and charities.