Many of us have, at least once in our life, given a gift that we were given first. This phenomenon is known as “regifting,” and for the most part, it’s not a very good practice.
Now, to lay this on the table: yes, I have regifted. Just this past Christmas in a $25 gift exchange, my family put a still-wrapped DVD copy of Jurassic World into the mix. It fit the price range, though none of us would ever want to watch it (sue me). The person who ended up getting the gift wasn’t entirely enthused over it — we did get the sense that they were disappointed. After the fact, we threw in a little Starbucks gift card to soften the blow, but the experience still brought some things to light about regifting.
If the giver isn’t really excited in the first place, there’s a decent chance that whoever receives that gift will be roughly as disappointed. Of course, when it comes to “white elephant” gift exchanges, where everyone gives away something they don’t want, disappointment is the name of the game, and that’s what makes it fun. But for gift exchanges that have a price, the people going into it might be expecting something they’ll actually want, not something that might otherwise be heading off to Value Village.
The other issue is that if people are putting money into this gift exchange, it’s almost like cheating to give something you didn’t even pay for in the first place. Even if it’s a decently nice gift, it is still better to respect the gift exchange and put as much effort and resources into it as everyone else.
A regift typically doesn’t take much thought, and because often the mindset is, “Oh, I’ll give them this, I don’t really want it anyways,” it turns the gift from something thoughtful and meaningful to something akin to another person’s trash or a hand-me-down.
The phrase “It’s the thought that counts” has some merit to it. Especially when it comes to close friends and family, the thought really does count. There will always be situations where the regift in question would be something that the person would really, really like. So, regifting should only be done if it will mean more than a purchased gift would. And in the case of gift exchanges, putting in the expected effort is always the best idea.