Making your list? Checking it twice? But not feeling so enthused about the prospect of buying more stuff for friends and family that might just wind up as waste? Here’s a solution: this year, instead of gift, give a “re-gift”.
Admit it. We all have a “re-gift bag” in the back of the closet
You know what I’m talking about. It’s that beat up shopping bag sitting in a corner or closet filled with a bunch of gifts you can’t use, don’t like, or are just downright weird. It might even contain some pretty decent things you bought with airline miles or on sale with the intention of giving them away when the right occasion presented itself. But alas, they’re still sitting there, waiting for that perfect match of owner and artifact.Like most of us, I used to try to pass them off as newly bought gifts, but always, of course, with a little guilt, a little trepidation. What if the recipient suspected? What if — horrors! — I re-gifted to the original giver!
So this year, I decided to draw down that ever-accumulating re-gift bag and get its treasures-to-be moving in the right direction. You read that right: instead of doing it on the sly, I would do so openly, all in the interest of fun.
I decided to start a new tradition. Whenever I met a friend for coffee or lunch, we would bring the other an unwrapped re-gift. I saw it as a great opportunity to get those items in the re-gift bag moving to a new owner who could really put them to good use , help out the environment a bit, and turn a simple rendezvous into a special occasion.
I tried it out on January 1st with my friend, David Bergman, the green architect, and his designer wife, Lori. They both relished the little silver frame I re-gifted to them over coffee on Lower East Side. They loved the idea of fueling my new tradition; David cheekily suggested we call it “No Fruitcakes”, giving the practice its only guideline.
Here’s how it works: Everyone brings an unwrapped re-gift. If we don’t like what we get, we mutually decide to keep what we originally brought, putting it back in the hopper to be re-gifted to someone else.
I was having such a good time this year at “No Fruitcakes” I decided in lieu of gifts, my friends do a re-gift swap at my birthday luncheon this year, allowing everyone to go home with a meaningful party favor. As you can imagine, it was a big success.
Try out ‘No Fruitcakes’ for Yourself
The holidays are coming. Why not try a holiday re-gift swap with a bunch of friends? Or re-gift openly as stocking stuffers? You’ll feel good, you’ll create a little extra room in the back of that closet, and you just might make someone you love unexpectedly happy.
Give it a whirl this holiday season — or, as described, at any time of the year, — and let me know how it goes.
Ed. Note: Check out National Re-gifting Day on December 20th!
What a great idea! Sounds like a lot of fun too – the beginning of a new tradition.
Last year the best Xmas gift I received from one of my friends was a re-gift. I was both thrilled and grateful!! It was exactly what I needed.
It is fun to gift, but our planet has to suffer in one way or the other.
Let’s minimize its pain .
• Discuss in your family to wrap all gifts in news paper instead of going out to buy fancy, glossy new material which will end up soon in the trash can.
• Agree to limit and focus on useful stuff, have handmade / self made presents or crafts, avoid all this useless plastic crap.
• Don’t be shy to return if you really don’t like your gift (have gift receipts available).
• Try to sell, trade or donate your old gadgets (Craigslist is a great tool).
• An afternoon in e.g. a theme park with the grandparents is much better than another plastic toy, with has a very short attention span anyhow.
• Think about creative toys, which challenge the kids to be inventive.
In my family we used to have a big gift exchange where all gave to each person, and had a fun time of opening one gift at a time. It was appreciated as we all established households or replenished wardrobes. However, in recent years, we all agreed we need very few new things. Yet, we still wanted to exchange gifts. So now we choose one name each, and treat that person to something they ask for or a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant. But since that’s much faster than the old way of opening gifts, we also decided to do a “white elephant” grab-bag. Everyone brought something new or barely used that they already owned but didn’t want. Some of us liked what we got, but mostly we all got a good laugh out of it. Then anything still unwanted got donated to a local charity for victims of domestic abuse. This year I hope we’ll have more good things to donate.
By the way, we’ve been reusing wrapping paper, bows and gift bags for years. One bag became a joke because as it got torn, whoever ended up with it used duct tape or another tacky way to fix it, and it has made the rounds for years!
I used to go to a lot of events where “goodie bags” were distributed. Of course I always took a bag, never knowing what was inside. Some things I liked and needed, others I didn’t. The things I never wanted I kept in my own “gift box” as an emergency kit to give out to friends on their birthdays, or just dinner parties etc. Saved me waste, money and time.
As an example I used to get a lot of hair products. I can’t use many of these products as I A) had short hair B) have hair that easily gets greasy. I always passed along these products to one friend and she loved receiving them. Didn’t matter to her whether I got them for free or not.
Regifting is a good idea… usually….
We know someone who is the queen of regifting. The problem is the regifts are things two men wouldn’t ever want. Totally not us.
She was an elementary school teacher and her students and students parents gave her all sorts of things…. and we got them. Many things were beyond cutsy, very feminine or so obviously not something Mike or Fred would ever be overjoyed, or even mild intrigued to get. We always shook our heads in disbelief and thought “What was she thinking?” (This is a very bright woman!) It would have been more considerate if she had given the things to Goodwill.
Writing the thank you note required a huge amount of creativity….and fibs…. and then tricky task of figuring how to get rid of the stuff so she wouldn’t find out. (She shops at Goodwills, consignment shops in the area…)
But we do have a neat way of regifting. Sort of….
For years, a wonderful group of friends gets together for Three Kings Day and we do “Treasures from the Basement/Attic.” Wild, weird, and at times, wonderful crazy-nesses, all wrapped in silly ways, also an oportunity for reusing.
It’s the traditional gift exchange where the group draws pieces of paper with numbers. Number 1 chooses a gift first. Everyone laughs over the outlandish gift. And then each person, next in the line up choses and opens a gift. They can trade for someone elses gift and the the very end, number 1 gets to choose from everyone’s gift.
We have come home with some beyond ludicrous, sometimes scary things. One year handmade dolls were so disturbing as to evoked nightmarish thoughts of satanic cults, voodoo rituals and the like. We couldn’t allow them into the house. That creepy! I think I wrapped them in plastic bags and tossed them in a public trash barrel far away! In the dead of night!
Some things we have come home are favorite treasures to us.. We love our “light up bass.” A ceramic version of the ceramic Christmas trees with a light bulb inside. Instead of the plastic pieces for the lights, this is studded with clear marbles. It lives in our fireplace. Cosy times basking in the glow of our “Light Up Bass!” We have beaded fruit, a huge brightly colored fish pillow and glass vase that looks reminiscent of Venician artifact.
I have to admit, we sometimes have to hit Goodwill to find suitably silly treasures, but this summer, when cleaning out the attic this year, we found a yarn painting of a lion with hot pink and orange mane, left behind from the previous landlord. Perfect for this manner of regifting.
One of the best things about this way of regifting is all the fun and laughs we have together. Things that would probably be destined for the trash get one last super gasp of glory before it meets the garbage man.
Best wishes to you all for the Holiday Season!
Love hearing about your Three Kings Day regifting day tradition! How brilliant! I know the British have boxing day right after Christmas.
I think it would make sense for close friends and neighbors to get together on Jan 6th to exchange all the unwanted Christmas or Chanukah gifts — and thereby get them moving in the New Year into loving hands –and out of our regift bags as fast as possible.
Makes me think that the date of Dec 20th — national regifting day should be moved accordingly!
It’s me, “Junky” Jacquie reporting in with a bit of an update…
Well, I successfully re-gifted several gifts at Christmas — some made good stocking stuffers, others were openly presented as re-gifts, or in one case, stuff right out of the neighbor’s trash. (They don’t call me “Junky Jacquie” for nothing!)
My son and daughter in law absolutely loved the black “Crate And Barrel” frame I found down the street, which I customized with four new photos of them and their little son. My niece can’t wait to read the book on Columbia (her school) I found at the Housingworks Thrift Shop. And my sister adores the fragranced candle I re-gifted within just days of receipt.
Who was it who said, “Good things come in recycled packages?”
It’s the (regifted) thought that counts?
Jacquie that is great to hear that all of your re-gifts have worked! I am building a massive collection of things, waiting for the appropriate time, place, and person. And, being a collector (in order to re-use or re-purpose) I’ve really got a collection going from clothing to costume jewelery. I like the idea of having a re-gifting day and the way Mike explained his sounds like a fun time. As for those other things such as pog holders or plastic crates that I won’t throw away in case of possible future use, I may need to go to Pinterest for that…. There is always a use and a good home for everything!
As a follow up….Last Saturday was our annual Three Kings Party A bit lengthy so read at your own risk!
A great time! Visiting with dear friends. Eating wonderful foods and desserts. And as always, the Treasures from the Basement/Attic! Fun and funny.
We had found/”rescued” two sets of treasures, one grouping from each of us. Each grouping was wrapped in used Christmas paper from previous Three Kings paries. One as a volcano and the other as a sea motif topped with jelly fish made of used bubble wrap.
One grouping was a gasp producing yarn painting found in the attic of a cartoonish bright orange lion with a hot pink mane. So truly tacky, a guest visiting before Christmas, to whom we showed it, insisted that it be turned to face the wall for the rest of the evening! Needless to say, it was a groaning, shrieks of laughter hit, hopefully destined for a Goodwill and another last gasp.
It was teamed with a unbelievably huge, megga ugly, super heavy, pottery (concrete?) tea pot, which I fear has no possible future. But it did have a “What were they thinking?” of moment of hilarity, horror and confused wonder Destined for the trash, I’m afraid…. but perhaps some passerby will rescue it from the roadside and use it in some way. Doorstop…ballast….fill…. Or perhaps the rescuer will take it to Goodwill. There is almost…usually… someone for almost…usually…. every unlovable Googie, (a term coined by a dear friend of my mother for anything unbelievably weird which she would find at thrift shops and caught her fancy.)
The other grouping we brought was a Lobster Fantasy. A metal dessert mold in the shape of a lobster will most likely produce a silly jello salad at this summer’s picnic. There was lobster butter warmer, (thoughtfully painted inside as to where one puts the water and where one puts the butter! Duh!) and the perfect addition of a string of lobster Christmas lights!
That is what we brought. Here’s what we came home with!
Fred got a set of odd glass candle lamp thingies which we have already used at a dinner party! And boxes of Jello, Marguerita and Daquiri flavors. We will regift those to a Jello loving friend.
I came home with what I consider a treasure and the “hot” item many lusted after. Amazingly, I didn’t end up losing in the trading frenzy. (The real threat came from Roz, but fortunately she traded for the Lobster Fantasy! Whew!!!)
My treasure is a Amamata paper model kit. “The Executioner.” Once assembled, one turns the handle, the executioner swings his ax and the unlucky victim’s head sinks into a bucket. Macabre, but I am dying… to see how it actually works, (the puppeteer/gizmo obsessed person in me!) Once made, I will share it with Roz, and also Vera, for them to share and enjoy between their households. “The Executioner” was a glorious regift from hostess Pat, who was given it when she went to see the Tower of London!
So that is how the Three Kings Pary Treasures exchange works! Great fun, food and friends.
And we were sent home with leftovers!!!!
Hi Jacquie! I too have boxes of gifts in my closet! I actually started to ask that my family members stop getting me gifts and instead send a gift in my name to a needy family in their area. People seem to really like the idea and it usually encourages them to get something useful for the family.
Are there any gift sharing websites? Perhaps there are gift registries where you can post anonymous gifts you have received and can trade them for something else? This seems to be a much more efficient way to allocate resources appropriately.
I love reading all these great ideas and insights into re-gifting. Cousin Mike, I hope you invite me to the Three Kings Party one of these days!
All of this discussion has got me thinking: if we didn’t get things we didn’t like or couldn’t use in the first place, there wouldn’t be a need for regifting. So in the spirit of “We Hate to Waste”, I’d say: let’s all work on ideas for NOT getting this type of stuff in the first place. But of course, we don’t want to be rude. But some “polite” ways of doing it might be: getting the word out that we’d prefer “consummables” like restaurant gift certificates, bottles of wine, lovely chocolates and the like — things we might not even splurge on for ourselves.
Another idea might be (Entrepreneurs are you listening): a permanent “gift registry” — where we all (not just brides) can list the things we’d really really like, so our friends and family can check in on it at the holidays, birthdays, and the like. Would be a great help to those well-meaning friends and family who never have a clue what to give you, but really want to get you something you might like.
Something we also do in our family is the idea of Redeemables. NOT for everyone….
Anyone in the family can do this, but I’ll tell about how this works using me as the example.
Say I happen upon a something or other I would so much like to have, but wouldn’t dare buy it for myself. (This only works if you are the type of person who is very frugal, is apt talk yourself out of something you really want, tends to suffer from buyers remorse and/or those who can be verrrry patient about waiting long periods of time to enjoy a purchase….)
So I found this something or other I REALLY, REALLY want! But….
Should I or shouldn’t I?….Yes… No… Um… Ah….I don’t really need it…. But I want it SOOOO much!….But no, no, no….Yes!….Too much….Arggg…$%&#$^&(@….. Yes!!!!…. Noooooo…. OR!
I buy it, bring it home and then dutifully put the item and the price tag in one of my bureau drawers, (The “Redeemable” drawer!) shut the drawer and don’t open it, (Very important!) I leave the something or other in the drawer. I don’t touch the redeemable. (Fred could never do this and is perplexed as to how I can dutifully wait for something I desire. He is totally instant gratification. “I want it nowwwww!!!”)
So, when my birthday or Christmas rolls around and my loved ones are stumped as to what to get me as a gift, they can do a Redeemable!
They can do one of two things.
I give them the option of redeeming a present from the drawer. I give them list of the prices, (some a few dollars, some more expensive) and they can pick one or more items from that list.
I then “wrap”, the present, or presents, (Pop it/them in a cloth bags. Have I posted about our tradition of cloth Christmas and Birthday bags yet?….) and when we are together, they redeem the gift, (cash or check) and then at present time, they give it to me to open. They get to be surprised by what they have given me! Yay!!!!
Or I bring out a bag of gifts with price tags from the drawer, they take the bag to another room, (Ooooo! Secrecy and suspense!), choose a gift or gifts, “wrap” it/them and surprise me with what they have redeemed. Yay!!!!
This year I received the redeemable gifts of a colorful nylon watch band from Central Watch in Grand Central Station, (Love those watch bands!!! In the drawer for three years… remember this only works if you can be patient!), an antique blown glass ornament in the shape of a teapot, $4, (in the drawer for a few weeks), Two prints of photos of Eugen Sandow, (1867–1925, Prussian pioneering bodybuilder known as the “father of modern bodybuilding.” $10 each, and two frames with glass which fit them perfectly from Goodwill, a dollar each…(in the drawer for about a year and a half) and a rare and wonderful LP of Julie Andrews’ Japan Concert Album, $27, (She sings Do, Re, Mi in Japanese!)….(in the drawer about 4 years… a higher ticket item.) Yay, Yay, Yay!!!!
Amazingly, the Redeemable Drawer is now completely empty! The first time in years! Ready for the next treasure I wouldn’t never dare buy for myself!
Somewhat crazy in New Haven….
I think your “No Fruitcakes” idea is hilarious and inventive! I certainly need to give that a try with my friends on special occasions. I have had success re-gifting in the past with younger family members. I find that this works especially well because they would often rather have something of yours than something new.
For example, Pokemon is one of the biggest fads to hit my generation. However, it came and went faster than you can say “Pikachu!” After third grade, I was stuck with hundreds of irrelevant playing cards. Miraculously, they made a comeback a few years ago according to my little sister, Abigail. Upon request, I showed her my outstanding collection, organized in a binder labeled “David’s Pokemon Cards”. She thought this was the coolest thing and was intrigued by them for hours. That year for her birthday, I redesigned the same binder substituting my name for hers, and transferred ownership of the collection. She continues to thank me to this day. This was a great way to reuse something I had once loved and make someone I love feel great at the same time.
Extremely relatable post, I look forward to more re-gifting success in the future!
I just wanted to quickly add my experience to this great list of re-gifting examples to hopefully inspire someone to try this idea in their community… When I was living in China every once in a while a bunch of expats would get together at someone’s house or at a local meeting spot and do a clothes/possessions swap. Sometimes the dates and locations of these exchange sessions are publicized on expat forums, and other times they are more personal and sent via email or group messages. Any items that are not selected are either reclaimed by the owner or later donated elsewhere.
The re-gifting idea is especially applicable in foreign environments because often times expats purchase items that really only serve a purpose while temporarily living abroad in that country. This method serves as a great way to recycle old items and save money. My favorite T-shirt is a prize from one of these swaps!
I also really love Jacquie’s idea about an online “gift registry” for friends and family to take a look at before doing their holiday or birthday shopping!
Love the idea of the expats exchanging. I could see that working right here in my NYC apartment building. The entire building is studios and one-bedrooms. Residents are mostly single or couples/no kids. Most of us have similar lifestyles. Would love to see us all have an exchange in the lobby one day. For now, I’m thinking global and acting local — I have a ‘giveaway box’ in my foyer — anyone who wants anything can help themselves! (I just hope no one who gave me anything as a gift sees it in there…. the subject of another post entirely!)
BTW, Welcome Matt to We Hate to Waste. Delighted to have your in our community. – ‘Junky J.’
I just had two ideas I’d love to get your feedback on.
1. Am sure many of you are now familiar with Patagonia’s new WornWear label. (Here’s a link: http://wornwear.patagonia.com/ ) What about creating a “100% Certified Regift” label — just for fun and to make regifting more ‘legit’.
2. What about a Regift Store — a consignment shop even if just a pop up shop for the holidays.
What do you think? Am I on to something here?
Just had a great idea! Each year with my group of friends, we have a “Secret Santa” / Kris Kringle activity at our Christmas party where everyone brings a $10 gift and places it on the table, then at random, each person gets to choose a gift from the pile. Usually, we buy gag gifts, or cheap meaningless stuff, but this year (since I am hosting the party) I am going to make a rule that everyone must bring a ‘regift’! I think this could be fun and will make everyone thing about how much unused stuff they have lying around at home they could bring (plus I will be saving everyone $10).
I must say I am blown away by this idea and surprised I never tried regifting forgotten gifts to others–that would have saved on so much space and waste! I’ve only regifted gifts I brought for myself.
I was once a hair product junkie, I have calmed down quite a bit, so I used to buy new hair products almost every other week: three different conditioners that would either provide volume or strength or moisture or all of the above, a couple of different brands of shampoo all claiming to perform miracles to my hair and scalp, and I won’t even start on the innumerable styling products (LORD). But with all these new products, several of them that did not work. Instead of throwing them away, or letting them sit in my closet, collecting dust, I asked my roommates if they needed any (somewhat) new products. Thankfully, at the time, all of them were frugal college students, unlike me (clearly), not wanting to spend more than $5 on their appearance, so they happily accepted my regifts with ease.
This coming holiday season, I definitely plan on giving out regifts instead of buying new items and will, hopefully, inspire my family and friends to join in on this movement!