Ann Fitzgerald: 'Regifting' is one solution to the annual Christmas presents headache
'Regift' is not a dirty word. Rather, it's time to tag it onto the popular anti-waste motto, 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'.
According to Wikipedia, the term regift was coined on a 1995 episode of Seinfeld but, obviously, it was happening long before that.
Sometimes it's out of thrift in difficult economic times, to dispose of something you don't like or will never use, or the increasing recognition that we already have so much "stuff".
Some states in America now have a regifting day on the Thursday before Christmas, while eBay Canada now markets December 26 to 30 as National Regifting week.
Whatever the reason, regifting can work successfully, provided that a few simple rules of etiquette are observed, under the general banner of, "do unto others …"
• Make sure you don't regift back to the person who gave you the gift. This is less of an issue when it's a bottle of Powers or a box of Roses (because so many of these are passed around at this time of year) rather than, say, a one-off piece of pottery.
For that reason, it's a good idea to regift outside of your immediate circle. If you know that someone took extra time to locate or make a gift for you, it's bad form to give it away.
• Nothing screams regifted like the discovery of a scrap of old wrapping paper still attached. Even worse is finding a gift card to the original recipient or an inscription in a book.
So remove any tell-tale signs of personalisation before rewrapping.
• Only regift brand new items in their original packaging. This might sound obvious but I once heard of someone finding a colour catcher sheet in the sleeve of a gifted jumper.
If it involves something that has a best before date, make sure that it's a decent way off. For this reason, be wary of regifting food.
Wikipedia also says that, apparently, a fruit cake is the most common food item that's regifted. This would go down like a dose of codliver oil in some houses but, in others like ours, a homemade fruitcake would be greeted with open arms.
Regifting used items, whatever the condition, is bad form, though of course they can be passed on, just not as a gift.
Instead of trying to pass on something you don't want to a friend or family member, why not consider giving it to a charity shop?
However, while it's good for children to learn that giving their lightly-used toys to charity is a worthwhile thing to do this time of year, you wouldn't want to be giving them the impression that they can just wrap up any old thing and pass it off as a gift.
So what is a good gift?
I once heard someone describe it well as "something you want but don't need". So a good gift doesn't have to be expensive.
At this time of year, endless hours are spent in choosing suitable gifts for loved ones.
However, to my mind, a key aspect of successful gift-giving is surprise. That doesn't come into it at Christmas, except if the surprise is that there's no present for someone expecting one. That is a shock, not a surprise.
Men, and particularly farm men, have a notoriously difficult reputation when it comes to present-buying.
Part of the problem is that there may be so many things that they both want and need; these are generally practical things as they are practical people. The same goes for many farm women.
I once heard a saying which suggested that to a person you dislike, you'd give them a national hunt mare; if you really dislike them, give a pregnant national hunt mare.
In reality, unless there is something particular they want, you can't go too far wrong with a new yard brush… or a Bobman if you're feeling really flush, a box of welding rods or a penknife.
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