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Everyday Economy

Gifts that keep on giving

It’s the hot topic of the gift-giving season: regifting. Everywhere you look these days, you find advice about how to regift – web sites, news publications, blogs and other sources of information are falling all over themselves trying to de-tacky-fy the practice of giving a gift that somebody else gave you. Everyone’s got their own set of rules, but one in particular – from The Motley Fool – tells you just how far regifting has to go, in terms of social acceptance: “there's one single critical cardinal rule to follow before you release your stampede of white-elephant gifts back into the world: Don't get caught.” Here’s more from the Motley Fools list of do’s and don’ts.
For years considered a clear social no-no, regifting is shedding its stigma, whether it's due to economic hardship, eco-friendly attitude shifts, or bulging closets and drawers full of stuff we never wanted in the first place. Today, anywhere from 60% to 78% of us, depending on what survey you read, think regifting is A-OK. In fact, giving gifts that have past lives is so routine, there's an official day dedicated to celebrating the practice: Dec. 18 -- the Thursday before Christmas -- has been christened National Regifting Day by Money Management International (MMI). (As with all new calendar additions, it's best to check with your boss before taking the day off in observance.)
A column at MSN Money says there are certain items you should avoid:
Certain items are a total, dead, instant giveaway that you not only are regifting, but you're too lame to put any effort into it: candles, soap, random books, mysterious CDs (unless your brother wants the hip-hop version of "Man of La Mancha"), obscure software, cheesy jewelry, scarves (do we not all own a scarf?), fruitcake, pens, cologne, boxed sets of extinct bath products (Jean Nate? No, no, no), videos or DVDs obviously acquired on a street corner, socks and any appliances or electronic gear the giftee would be puzzled to receive because they probably just got rid of it (including hot-air popcorn poppers and anything with a cassette deck in it).
One money management firm has set up a website for people to share their regifting stories – good and bad – as part of its effort to encourage sticking within a spending plan this year. WalletPop offers a series of stories from readers about regifting gone bad, including this one regarding a certain masculine fragrance that has somehow gone out of fashion:
"About 20 years ago, my grandfather gave my husband a gift set of English Leather. He didn't like it, never opened it. The following year, [my husband] gave it to my brother-in-law. I have three sisters and for the next few years, that gift set made it's way around the family Christmas circuit. My husband got it back and he said enough was enough. He gave it to his brother. We haven't seen that stuff since."
Newsweek reports that environmentalists are trying to improve the image of regifting:
Environmentalists are finding inherent value in the idea of regifting. They're removing the tacky connotation and rebranding it as green and earth friendly. "It's a way to turn trash into something useful. That's as green as it gets," says Urvashi Rangan, the editor of Greener Choices, the enviro-focused online hub of Consumer Reports.
Where do you come down on regifting – for or against? Tell us a story about regifting or being regifted, if you’ve got one.

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Everyday Economy is a blog and weekly page in the newspaper dedicated to the way people are living their financial lives. Shawn Vestal, a longtime Spokesman-Review writer and editor, is overseeing the project.