February 26, 2024

How to forgive without feeling guilty

I am a lifelong, unapologetic regifter.

In case you don’t know, regifting involves giving someone something that you received as a gift. And it’s around this time of year when people rethink the etiquette surrounding regifting.

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But the crowd that never gives back considers this practice ill-mannered. They claim it is deceptive, tasteless or stingy. Some believe that you have to spend money before it is truly a gift.

“Regifting is a wonderful thing,” emailed Mary from Crofton, Maryland. “I like the saying, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it. Regift, recycle, whatever you want to call it. Just don’t collect things you’ll never use.”

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I agree with Maria. I don’t see anything wrong with giving again. It’s a win-win situation. You can save money and still give something that you think someone else will appreciate. This point is crucial.

How many bath loofah candle sets do you have collecting dust in your closet because that’s not your thing? Would a friend who likes to light candles for a warm bath be happy to add another scent to his or her collection?

How about this as a good reason to donate again? Climate change. Think of all the stuff we receive that we don’t want; a large part of it ends up in the landfill. It makes sense to recycle through regifting. Done right, regifting can be a responsible response to excess.

Here’s a recap of my re-gifting rules.

Do not re-gift used items.

The item must be new. For example, maybe you received a book you already have, or a second blender. Maybe you received a gift card from a store you never shop at.

The exception to this rule may be a family heirloom or something you want to pass on for sentimental reasons. In this case, you may want to announce that you are giving away a special item that you think that person will love.

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If you really think someone will like the gift, take the time to wrap it nicely. Or buy a nice gift bag. Please ensure that the item has all original parts and accessories.

And take into account any gift tags that are still attached.

Label gifts for regifting.

You must keep track of who gave you the gift. I mean it.

Do not practice regifting if you are not careful. Nothing gives a gift return black eye more than stories about people getting back gifts they gave to the recipients.

Also, don’t give back something that someone made especially for you.

Don’t be a brand pretender.

Don’t put an item in a box from a luxury store to give the impression that you spent a lot of money. That’s just wrong and not in the good spirit of regifting.

And what if the person asks for a gift card? If you don’t follow my advice and find yourself cornered, confess immediately.

Don’t give back to an objector.

There are people who hate regifting and think it is thoughtless.

I once gave a family member a nice shirt I bought, thinking she would like it. She thought it was a gift and complained to others in the family. (Don’t follow her example, especially if there’s a possibility you’re wrong, as this person did.)

If you suspect someone will be offended by receiving a returned item, please do not do so. Re-gifting should not lead to hurt feelings. So proceed with caution if you are a regifter.

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I was amused by this comment from a reader: “When it comes to Christmas (and birthdays), I give my wife, son, daughter and grandchildren money for gifts. I wouldn’t have a problem if they all decided to give me back!”

Don’t ask, don’t tell.

If you are going to give back and your intention is to give something that the person would really like, don’t volunteer the origins of it out of some misplaced guilt. But if you are pushed, be honest. If you suspect you may be on the receiving end of a regift, don’t ask. Don’t embarrass the person. Be gracious.

When I was dating my husband, we surprised his mother by stopping by her house before Christmas. We wanted to drop off her presents because we were spending the holidays with my family. After we gave her our presents, one from him and one from me, she disappeared for a moment and came back with a beautifully wrapped gift for my husband and something for me.

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When I opened my gift, which seemed hastily wrapped, there were two wooden dolls dressed in Mexican costumes. I had never shown any interest in doll collections and was honestly perplexed as to why she thought I might like them. I suspected I was on the receiving end of a regift because she didn’t want to give her son anything and let me leave empty-handed.

About six months after that, before our wedding, my husband’s mother was murdered during an attempted robbery. I kept the dolls because they were the last gift my future mother-in-law gave me. Years later, I gave the dolls to our eldest daughter and told her they came from the grandmother she never met. Our daughter, who collected dolls, added them to her collection.

A gift that once seemed like an afterthought turned out to be a treasure.

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My mortgage repayment story: My husband and I paid off the house in the spring of 2023 by making extra payments and taking advantage of a mortgage rescheduling. Even though it lowered my perfect credit score of 850 and my column about it sparked serious debate with readers, it was one of the best financial decisions I’ve made.

Credit card debt: If you are in the habit of carrying around credit card debt, stop. It’s just a myth that it will increase your credit score. For those looking to get rid of credit card debt, see if a balance transfer is right for you.

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