Regifting can be naughty or nice


Last year, Craig Wylie learned what it means to be "regifted."

His friend Tyler gave him a CD for Christmas by the rock band Atreyu -- the same CD Wylie had given him for his birthday a year and half earlier.

Fortunately for Tyler, Wylie found humor in the blunder.

"It took a minute for me to realize it, but once it clicked, I actually thought it was funny," said Wylie, 18. "He apologized because he obviously forgot I gave him the CD. He couldn't believe what happened."

Coined by Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of his NBC sitcom in 1995, regifting (taking a gift you received and giving it to someone else) is now a common term for an age-old practice.

Although many people consider it tacky and cheap, studies show it's a holiday trick that's recycling its way into acceptance.

According to a 2005 survey by Money Management International, more than half (54 percent) of holiday gift-givers say regifting is fair game -- especially when it's done for the right reasons.

More than half (53 percent) of those who admit to regifting say they do it not out of laziness, but because they think the new recipient will appreciate the gift more than they do.

Debbie Olson, 50, of Turlock said she plans to regift for the first time this year and hopes to make a difference in the process.

"Someone gave us a gift card to Target, but we don't really need it," Olson said. "We do shop there, and it's a great gift; we just think there is someone else who can use it more."

Many such as Wylie who have been regifted said they could tell their gift was recycled, even though the giver didn't fess up.

"I just had a feeling about it," said Turlock resident Frances Villanueva, 39, whose sister regifted her a watch last year. "I couldn't imagine my sister buying it. But it looked new, and I was able to use it."

If you do it, do it right

With the practice of regifting come questions of etiquette -- questions that have answers, thanks to the Web site www.regiftable.com.

Instead of condemning the frugality of regifting, the site offers tips, stories and creative ways to regift with decorum.

Wylie said that even though he wasn't offended by his friend's regifting, he easily could have been.

"If it had been something I had put real effort into giving him, I would have definitely been upset," he said.

Many say regifting can make great holiday memories if done thoughtfully.

Jan Sharp, 81, of Modesto said her family has taken the practice to a new level. Each Christmas they play a variation of the common gift exchange game White Elephant, using old gifts only.

Each person submits an anonymous gift, which is then chosen by someone else. The gifts are exchanged many times until the game is over.

"Everybody gets into it," Sharp said. "We exchange twice with the packages wrapped, then we open them and have three more exchanges. If someone wants to exchange with you, you have to do it. There's so much competition, especially between siblings."

Danielle Sutton, 21, said that, despite the social stigma, she and her sisters are comfortable with openly regifting.

"One sister gave me a scarf and gloves, but I don't need them here," said Sutton, who recently moved to Modesto from Gary, Ind. "So I gave them to another sister. She likes them, so why not?"

Although the rules at regiftable.com say you should avoid regifting items because you don't want them, Villanueva said some gifts are just too bad not to pass along.

"If someone regifts you a fruitcake or something, the only thing to do is regift it again onto someone else."

Bee staff writer Thomas Pardee can be reached at tpardee@modbee.com or 578-2318.