Getting off the gifting treadmill

The holiday season is now over and everyone is busy evaluating their lives and making resolutions to improve things for the future, so it might be worth considering how we approach gifting (and re-gifting) this coming year.

pitfalls of obligatory gift-giving

Many of us find that we've got into the habit of giving gifts to almost everyone, teachers, postmen, friends, family, distant relatives … in turn, those we give gifts to feel obliged to return the favour. The sheer number of gifts given mean that each year we both give and receive some duds. These might be duplicates of things we already own, or lovely things that just slightly miss the mark; clothing in the wrong size, edible gifts that contain unsuitable ingredients, toiletries that aren’t suitable for your particular skin type or things that just aren't to your taste.

Selection of Christmas gifts

How do we change this culture of obligatory giving and receiving? In the first instance, start the conversation with your friends and family before next Christmas!

Plan now for next Christmas

In my family we have adopted different approaches over the last few years; we have done a second-hand Christmas, and a handmade Christmas, but for the coming year, we have decided to reduce the overall number of gifts we give.

Our plan is to give gifts collectively, so one medium sized gift, given by our whole family to the individual recipients, rather than 6 small gifts. This works on numerous levels – the hit rate of good gifts tends to be higher when a) you only have to think of one suitable gift and b) you have a little more money to spend collectively.

We’ve also agreed with extended family that we will not be exchanging gifts in general although we may make exceptions for the younger generations who are setting up in their own homes for the first time, or if a particular need is identified.

what about this year's presents?

So that’s the future taken care of, but it still leaves the here and now and that selection of random unwanted gifts that is sitting on table and needing me to make decisions about.

The easiest solution may be to donate suitable items to charity shops, but you often find that they are overwhelmed with toiletry sets at this time of year, in addition to this, they sell the sets for a fraction of their face value, so what other options are there?

One good option is to donate food banks – toiletry sets and edible gifts are greatly appreciated and often provide a welcome treat to those who need to use these resources.

the Re-gifting conundrum

The other slightly more controversial option is to re-gift unwanted items. For some reason we seem to look unfavourably on regifting, but why? How is it better for us to have to find house space for something we don’t want, or alternatively commit perfectly good items to landfill, just because they aren’t to our taste, or don’t meet our needs? Surely its better for find a suitable recipient for the gift, so it might be used and enjoyed?

5 simple rules For re-gifting

There are some simple rules to follow if you do decide to re-gift.

  1. Do not re-gift within the same social circle as the gift giver.

  2. Ensure that the item is within date.

  3. Make sure it’s suitable for the new recipient – is it something they would like, is it the right style, is it the right size?

  4. Remove any damaged packaging, re-wrap the gift and replace any prewritten tags.

  5. Don’t give items that are outdated or out of style.

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