I'm not against re-gifting as a rule, although, every time I try to do it myself, it makes me squirm. It IS a form of recycling, and recycling is good, right? Still, I really think there is a time and place for everything, and that includes re-gifting, so if you're considering delving into this form of recycling, here are some rules to live by...
1. The gift must fit the taste of the recipient. Your brother and sister-in-law don't want a bright blue, foldable Chinese-themed waste paper basket when their house is decorated in a country theme.
Which leads to rule number 2..
2. The gift can't be hideous. If it's hideous, throw it out. Your niece may have loved Miss Piggy as a girl, but that does not mean she will appreciate a hand-lotion dispenser in the shape of a pig sitting upright and wearing an unbelievably large floppy-brimmed hat. Save her years of therapy, (or yourself years of being the butt of a secret Christmas laugh) by throwing items such as this one out before you are tempted to re-gift them.
3. Make sure your re-gift will go undetected by the original gift giver. If someone gives you a comforter set, for example, at a family gathering, don't regift it to another family member next Christmas. It's just not cool. And no, your postman probably doesn't want a comforter set.
4. If you've complained about a gift, you've got to keep track of who listened to your complaints... remember to cross that person off as a potential recipient next year... "oh, so THIS is the obscenely fluffy bathrobe in the weird tie-dyed pattern that you talked about last year..."
5. Be honest, when appropriate. "Hey, Melinda, do you like Starbucks?" "Yeah!" "Do you want this 25.00 gift card?" "Someone gave me this, and I don't like coffee." "Sure!" See, everyone is happy here. Of course, this person didn't try to pass it off that he'd purchased this gift card just for me.
6. Try to be timely. No one wants a Cabbage Patch Doll or a Pet Rock, or a Rubik's Cube now, even if they are still in their original packaging... unless, maybe they are the stars of a show called American Pickers...
7. Don't unwrap your gift and try it out before deciding that you don't like it and you want to regift it. Although, if you try to pass off an unwrapped, grungy looking gift as a real present, you may be beyond hope.
8. Known re-gifts can be funny, and part of Christmas tradition if done right. For example, if someone gets a very pointy Santa statue one Christmas and everyone else is envious and wants their OWN pointy Santa, you could start a tradition of re-gifting Pointy Santa every year - he can be something like the Stanley-Cup of Christmas.
9. Don't give someone a re-gift that is just a sad reminder of a larger gift you got yourself. For example, let's say you are a fan of expensive designer bags, like Dooney and Bourke, and you like to buy them from QVC, where they occasionally come with matching key-fobs. And if you get yourself one of these nice handbag and keyfob combos, don't then re-gift your tiny little keyfob onto your poor secretary, who may have gone so far as to purchase all the items for your annual Christmas party, for which you got all the compliments. Your secretary might not even give a rat's ass about Dooney and Bourke key fobs. She will most likely open the key fob and think, "What the...?"
Just hypothetically, of course.
10. And finally, if you are the recipient of a thoughtless re-gift, you can always rewrap it and give it back to the original sender next year.
Happy Holiday Shopping!