One of the most surprising changes in social acceptances of the last two decades has been the embracing of the practice of regifting. You know, the taking of that gawdy Egyptian-themed set of holiday glassware from Cousin Eddie that you know will never see your kitchen's light of day, and rewrapping it to give to someone else. Once considered a social no-no other than at the office party's white elephant gift exchange, today it is such a commonly-accepted act (a staggering 60% of people reportedly approve of it) that there is a National Regifting Week, day and website dedicated to the recycling of someone else's thoughtfulness. Even etiquette columnist Peggy Post has copped to the practice!
The popular "Seinfeld" series gifted the notion into pop culture. No question the economy and environment have also made it easier for regifting to gain acceptance.
I know i'm seriously out of step on this one, but I have never been a fan of the regifting concept. My manners-meter has always pointed to the 'tacky' on this idea. Instead, that crocheted apron and plaster dish of Elvis have gone the way of the grow-your-own-cactus set and rope-trimmed picture frame - to charity! In the next few weeks, that donation pile will be joined by yet more vanilla-flavored jars of wax, mini Christmas-stocking coin purses, and hard-as-nails fruit cakes. I'll accept them graciously, then later designate them to be given away to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul. Sans the fruit cake of course.
I am outnumbered here, I know. The regifting train has left the station. And although I refuse to hop on board, I'm offering a few suggestions on how to regift with tact: 1. Be realistic about the item and its intended recipient. Will your 85-year-old Aunt Clara REALLY want those ski goggles? 2. Rewrap the item with new paper and ribbon! Nothing undermines your stealth mission like patches of torn paper still taped to the box from the first go-around. 3. Don't regift something that has been used. Those items shouldn't go anywhere else BUT to charity. Doing otherwise would be off the tacky-richter scale. 4. Be mindful of the retailer of origin. It's been several years since Gottschalks closed up shop. Regifting a crystal dish from its shuttered china department may not elicit the desired effect with your mother-in-law.
And remember, it IS the thought that counts, and it DOES 'Manner' A lot!