When I saw the email invitation for a regift swap party come through from Jacquie Ottman in mid-December, I immediately replied with, ‘I’m in!’ I had never been to a regift swap party before so I was intrigued and it sounded like it would be fun. I even began wishing that I would get at least one or 2 gifts I didn’t like during the holidays just to be sure I would have a regift to swap.
Perfect Regift? ‘The Re-Gifted Label Maker’
Some of you might be unfamiliar with the term, but regifting is just what it sounds like – to give someone a gift that you previously received from someone else. You may remember the Seinfeld episode where the term “regifter” was popularized when a label maker is regifted and the original giver (Elaine) finds out.
Many people regift by giving gifts they’ve previously received to someone else for a special occasion without the recipient knowing, but I think regift swap parties are becoming more common.
National Regifting Day
Regiftable.com has even declared the Thursday before Christmas ‘National Regifting Day’. I like the idea of knowing all the gifts up for grabs are regifts and no one is trying to hide anything. The even better part of a regift party is hopefully finding a home for something that would otherwise go to waste gathering dust on a shelf in your closet. Our party was after the holidays, which of course made sense, given that the regift bags get refilled over the holidays!
Regift Swap Party Time!
As it turned out, I ended up with 2 possibilities to bring with me to Jacquie’s regift swap party: a set of 4 spice rubs and a board game. Both items I would have gladly kept for myself, but I just simply don’t have enough space in my small Manhattan apartment.
Jacquie’s regift swap party took place on a cold Sunday in late January. The welcome smell of spiced hot apple cider greeted me when I entered her apartment and met the fellow waste watchers who had arrived before me. Jacquie had a great spread of tea sandwiches (I heard she saved all the crusts!) and of course, only used real plates and linens. All in all there was a great turnout of about 15 of us and the conversation we shared as everyone trickled in was almost as fun as the regifting swap portion itself! Almost.
Setting the Ground Rules for a Regift Swap Party
Once everyone had arrived we set the ground rules for how our regift swap party would take place. We had all brought one (or a few), unwrapped (we all hate waste, after all!) gift(s) and placed them in the center of the room for all to see. In the interest of full disclosure we went around the room and described what we brought so everyone knew their options and any interesting stories behind the items.
We settled on selecting regifts one at a time to swap, going in reverse alphabetical order by last name. Like the popular gift exchanges such as White Elephant and Yankee Swap, when it’s your turn to select you have the option of either choosing a ‘new’ gift or stealing one from someone else who has already chosen. The person who is stolen from then has the option of a ‘new’ regift or taking someone else’s (except for the one that was just taken from them).
Please, Please Steal My Regift!
At first everyone was way too kind and refrained from stealing the gifts they really wanted. But after some encouragement (and lots of apologies) we started to take gifts from each other. Then things got fun. The hot items consisted of a baking stone which we decided would also make a great cheeseboard, a bread basket, and some wildflower seeds. In the end, I think everyone went home with at least one gift they were happy with and we all had a great time in the process.
In the end, I think everyone went home with at least one regift they were happy with and we had a great time in the process. I brought home a cookbook, which I haven’t had a chance to use yet, but I love cookbooks and I’m sure I’ll make something from it in the future. To be honest though, I could have gone home from the regift swap with nothing and I would have been just as happy because I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the party and found homes for 2 items I didn’t know what to do with.
To Tell or Not to Tell? The Start of a New Regift Swap Party Tradition?
Looking back at my first regift swap party made me a little philosophical. Regifting is usually done sub rosa; I have to admit, I didn’t necessarily tell the people who gave me the gifts I brought that I had in turn, regifted them to others. But wouldn’t that be great if we could?
What’s your experience with regifts? Have you regifted before, either directly or by swapping at a party? Did you tell the person who gave you the gift that you wound up regifting it? Would you be comfortable telling a friend that you were giving them something that you had received before?
Maybe regift swap parties like this one could start to make regifting more socially acceptable. I for one, look forward to participating in more in the future.