What do you know? It turns out women do it, men do it, even etiquette mavens do it.
Re-gifting is when you give someone a gift that someone else gave to you.
Re-gifting may be the only trend in our lifetimes in which the husband and I are ahead of the curve.
When we were married, a friend of the family gave us a large, framed picture titled The Feast. To envision this work of art,
picture medieval peasants crowded around a long banquet table. Some are sprawled in their chairs with their boots on the table,
passed out cold. Others are two sheets to the wind, gnawing on mastodon bones, knocking over beer steins and grabbing at the
We were young, starting out, and not too bright. We were also invited to an open house for a sophisticated couple that was
into goat cheese, artichoke leaves, designer shoes and 5,000-thread-count linens. So we gave them The Feast.
Word got back to us they suspected it was a re-gift.
"We should take that as a compliment," I told the husband.
"Absolutely," he said. "They expected something classier from us -- something like those dogs playing poker."
When my parents opened gifts after their golden wedding anniversary bash, I urged my mother not to open a gigantic box of
"We've had our sugar quota for the century," I said. "Why not pass those along to someone else?"
My mother paused briefly, considered my suggestion, and tore open the chocolates. Inside was one colossal chocolate blob
oozing hazelnut praline. Whoever gave the Godivas had transported them in the trunk of their car. In August. That is what you
call a re-gift near miss.
Despite potential hazards, people have been quietly re-gifting for years. Take fruitcake. Please. And don't gift it back.
When potpourri was all the craze, we were so heavily endowed that I began sprinkling it in dresser drawers. The day the
husband came home from work, pulled a cinnamon stick and dried apple out of his pocket and asked why I was making him smell
like hot cider was the day I considered re-gifting our surplus potpourri.
The few times I have re-gifted, I've always felt a twinge of guilt. But we live in a world of excess, and re-gifting just keeps
the merchandise moving. Waste not, want not.
The other problem is that once you start to re-gift, you begin wondering which of your gifts were re-gifts? And has a re-gift
ever made the journey back to the original gifter? Did The Feast ever find a happy home? Did the Magi re-gift, or were those
It eases my mind to know that Emily Post has given the nod of approval to re-gifting as long as it is done discreetly. This
probably means not re-gifting used gifts, worn gifts and popcorn tins with the cheese flavored section half-empty. And, unless you
want to sit alone at the next family reunion, do not pass a relative's gift to another relative. Oh yes, you should also be careful to
remove all gift cards, name tags and crinkled tissue paper in the gift bag.
When it comes to giving, the important thing is not the gift but the thought behind the gift. Well, that and not leaving a paper trail.