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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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After Chanukah some of us look around and realize that many of the gifts we or our family received are impractical, not our style, a duplicate or fill in the blank. In short, some of our loot may be categorized as “clutter.”

As if we need additional stress in our lives, we now face the challenge of dealing with unwanted gifts. Of course, the first thing to do is take a survey of what can be returned. Did the gift include a gift receipt? If not, do you feel comfortable enough with the gift giver to ask for a receipt? Keep in mind that even with a receipt, many retailers allow a mere seven days for returns, although some extend their return dates this time of year. Some stores have a liberal return policy. There are countless articles to be found online praising certain brick-and-mortar stores as well as websites for their consumer-friendly return policies, and just as many articles calling out the frustratingly strict ones. Occasionally we receive gifts and we don’t have a clue where they came from. In short, when we have missed the return cut-off date, do not know where the gift was purchased, or do not have anything resembling a receipt, we may have to think out of the box. (Pardon the pun.)

To unload these less-than-treasures, there are several directions to take which include trading with friends, online swap sites, selling online and donating. The one I want to focus on involves a blast from the past.

The much-loved and quoted TV show “Seinfeld” had an episode titled “The Regifter.” This episode popularized, even criminalized, the idea of regifting. It seems one series regular gave a label-maker to one of her friends who wrapped it and gifted it to another series regular—and good friend of the original giver. The original giver immediately figured out her gift was not appreciated, approached this ungrateful friend and, in dramatic fashion, accused the man of being “a regifter!” It was a funny episode, however, does one television show, albeit one that lives on in many of our memories, have the right to proclaim to the American public that it is forever wrong to regift?

Some think regifting is inconsiderate. They believe gift giving should require thought and imagination so that each gift is tailor-made for the recipient. Yet, if done correctly, one does put thought into regifting. Consider this scenario: You receive two scented candles as a present. While you do not enjoy burning candles other than Shabbat and Chanukah candles, you may have a friend or family member who does. You choose to regift the candles to that person, wrap the candles nicely and save yourself a trip to the store or an online session. You also clear a little space somewhere in your home. In my mind, there is nothing rude about that.

There is a second opinion that is gaining ground that regifting allows the giver to save money and is therefore sensible at a time when many are out of work or underpaid but do not want to sacrifice holiday gift giving. A third voice echoes that regifting makes sense and emphasizes how it’s better for the environment to regift than to add unwanted items to our landfills. Therefore, we “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle … Regift.”

If you do decide you want to try regifting, I highly recommend you consult the recently published “12 No-Nonsense Rules of Regifting” in the December 9, 2021 edition of the blog Ramsey Solutions, describing ways to save money and adhere to a budget. These rules help ensure a regift is suitable for the new recipient. They include:

Remember who gave you your gifts. Do not regift to the original giver. In fact, if you receive a gift you do not want and cannot return, immediately write the name of the gift giver on a sticky note and adhere it FIRMLY to the gift. As we saw in the “Seinfeld” episode, do not regift to a friend of the giver.

Don’t let a person feel like an afterthought. Don’t regift an item that is cheap or tacky. Ask yourself if it is something you would really spend money on for the prospective recipient. Of course, if a gift gets old fast, like the Pop-Tart maker from a few seasons ago, or is silly like the singing fish from about a decade ago, it deserves to be placed deep into a landfill.

Be sure never to regift an item that has been opened or used.

Rewrap the gift in a very attractive way, being careful to remove any names or notes from the original gift giver, thereby removing all trace of evidence that it was intended for someone else.

If you can’t think of just the right match for a present, you can donate it to any number of worthy charities.

The Ramsey Solutions blog listed items that make good regifts. Feel free to redirect unused perfume; gift cards; new, small appliances, soaps, body lotions, throws and candles.

Without a doubt there are times when a gift giver can make the perfect shidduch. Many years ago, a friend gave me a bottle of somewhat expensive cologne. It was a lovely gesture, nevertheless, I found it way too strong. Knowing I would never use it and not knowing what to do with it, I stashed it in a closet. Several months later, I was invited to an impromptu birthday party and needed a gift, fast. For some reason, I remembered the bottle of cologne and dug it out of the closet, wrapped it in birthday paper and it was good to go. Back then, we wrapped a gift in wrapping paper and sought out a formal birthday card with just the right message. Now we drop a gift into an attractive gift bag with a mini card that offers just enough room to write a name.

The day after the party, the birthday girl called me to tell me how happy she was to receive that particular scent. I remember she asked me with wonder in her voice, “How did you know that was my favorite scent?!” And to that I say, “There is no such thing as a coincidence.”


Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s Kosher Organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected]

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