DON WINSLOW: With the Holidays Approaching, Re-Gifting Might Work
With the holiday season fast approaching, I thought it might be appropriate to discuss one of the most challenging aspects of gift giving that will face those of us in Whispering Pines -- the re-gift.
For those of you not familiar with the action, re-gifting is taking a present you don't like or would never use that someone gave to you and passing it on to someone else.
Though many folks consider re-gifting tacky, all of us have experienced the time when we received something, told the gift-giver thanks, and then wondered what we would ever do with the red suspenders or third barbecue set we ended up storing in the garage.
Surprisingly, a recent CNN report indicates that more than half the people polled about re-gifting admitted they had done it and feel there is nothing wrong with doing so.
Even Peggy Post, granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post and an advice columnist for Good Housekeeping magazine, admits she has done it and concurs in the procedure.
I can think back to many gifts I have received that I wish I hadn't. Though I know the thought was there, I would rather the giver saved the money spent and simply wished me a happy birthday, joyous Christmas, or whatever.
My Mom, bless her soul, loved to send us a Hickory Farms package of cheeses and sausage every year. I would put the gifts in the refrigerator and months later realize they had never been touched. The smell when I opened the refrigerator gave a clear message that something -- like the cheese -- was not right in Denmark. Eventually, the gifts made it to the trash bin.
My mother-in-law may have been trying to send me a message by giving me Old Spice shaving lotion for Christmas year after year. I always thanked her and set the cologne in a drawer.
Recently, I checked and 14 bottles are still there, so thanks to her, I will smell nice for years to come. (By the way, she has passed on long ago so the last addition to my loot of Brut was given to me a good dozen years ago.)
When re-gifting, there are rules to follow.
Naturally, if you are passing along a bottle of wine someone brought to your house when you hosted a dinner party, make sure it is going to someone other than the one who brought it in the first place. And by all means, use a different bottle bag to pass it along. (I wonder how often the re-gifting of a bottle of merlot takes place in Whispering Pines?)
Never use a hand-me-down as a re-gift. For example, the shirt you took the labels off of and wore once is not appropriate to pass on to someone else. The hedge-trimmer your dad gave you three years ago that you have since used for four, doesn't get passed along again.
And if you do decide to do that dirty deed, by all means make sure the re-gift is clean. Remove the grass, and don't be crass.
Additionally, passing along a set of wine glasses with lipstick on the rim just doesn't do it, either.
Finally, if you have to re-gift, make sure the company that made the item or store that sold it is still in business. You can lose a friend in a hurry if you pass along relics from the past like a Motorola kitchen radio or a video cassette that isn't in the VHS format.
So this year, before you go to SteinMart or Peebles or Belk to get that special gift for that special someone, check the closets and the garage. There may be an oldie but goodie sitting around the compound that you tucked away when you got it, not knowing what you'd ever do with it.
This might be the time to act. After all, at the holiday table you're asked to pass the turkey and the gravy.
Why not do the same with the items under the tree? Pass that polka dot tie and those red suspenders. You'll never use them anyway.
Don Winslow can be reached at email@example.com.
More like this story