Joanne Palmer: Reduce, reuse, recycle and regift? |

Joanne Palmer: Reduce, reuse, recycle and regift?

Recently, Yahoo! News announced the discovery of a new phenomenon. The news was so miraculous an AP press release was issued, and an entire Web site was created to showcase it. The phenomenon? Regifting.

The Web site,, proclaims that, “Regifting has become a phenomenon.” Hmm … right away, I could tell some over-caffeinated writer needed to have his or her creative license revoked. A phenomenon, according to my dictionary, is “Mysterious and unexplained.” Barring domestic phenomenon such as a good hair day, matching socks and the ultimate – not arguing with my son – true phenomenon are frequently offered by Mother Nature: The Grand Canyon, alpenglow, meteor showers.

As for regifting, there’s nothing mysterious about it. The first recorded use of the word occurred during a 1995 episode of Seinfeld. George or Jerry uttered the word, and 11 years later, it is being billed as a phenomenon. I’m not convinced. Regifting is tacky, cheap and sometimes thoughtless. Don’t believe me, visit the Web site. The site offers a forum where regifiting victims can share their tales of woe:

Dick from Pennsylvania writes in:

“I received an engraved bottle of British Sterling cologne with someone else’s initials on the sterling collar.”

Lynn from Bellaire shares this sad tale:

Recommended Stories For You

“My daughter had a birthday party and invited her entire grade school class. One attendee brought a rather large re-wrapped, re-gift. It was a six-piece toy set, previously opened with three pieces missing thus making it unusable!”

Leah, from Pensacola, received a coffee mug and flavored coffee gift set. She was thrilled until she turned it over to find it had expired five years ago.

The Web site, created by the credit counselors at Money Management International offers an unspecified prize for the ultimate regifting story, which, in keeping with the spirit of things, might mean you walk away the proud recipient of a rock-hard recycled fruit cake.

According to a survey conducted by MMI, more than half of all adults consider regifting acceptable. Further proof that I am behind the times came from the book by David C. Barnette, author of the “Official guide to Christmas in the South” and “If you can’t fry it, spray paint it gold,” “If you don’t believe in reincarnation, follow a gift bag around this Christmas.”

Nevertheless, I maintain, regifting, especially in a small town, is not the best idea you’ll have. It’s too complicated, a veritable tangled web of lies. Consider this scenario. At an art fair, Julie buys what she thinks is a beautiful, handcrafted cheese board inlaid with mosaic mice. She gives it to her friend Amanda as a wedding present. Unable to return it, Amanda dutifully writes a thank-you note and places it on the top shelf of a closet. One year later, Amanda, by now pregnant with twins, dusts off the box, rewraps it and gives it to her cousin Bonnie. Bonnie is furious. She can’t believe her cousin doesn’t remember she is lactose intolerant and never eats cheese. She rewraps the garish cheese board as a shower present for her friend Janet. Janet, in a hurry to get to the white elephant party at her office, forgets to look inside at the growing collection of gift cards and spider webs and takes it to the party. She is surprised at the reaction her boss Julie has when she unwraps the box and discovers the cheese board.

When it comes to regifting, it’s not the thought that counts. It’s whether you can get away with it.