It seems that according to a Discover Card survey, most (57%) Americans are “horrified” about the idea of re-gifting: taking an gift that you’ve been given and re-wrapping it and giving it as a gift to another person. While I can understand that re-gifting may not seem proper to some, the survey also says that “almost half of Americans never return a gift.” If person receives a gift that they aren’t using and they don’t return or re-gift it, then I assume that it’s sitting in a closet gathering dust which is basically a waste of money. There still are other alternatives: selling it on an online auction, giving it to charity for the tax deduction or simply giving it to someone you know (or through an organization like freecycle to someone you don’t know) that you know will use it.
Personally, I’m not opposed to re-gifting. In Japan where gift giving is an art form, it’s an accepted practice among most of the people I know here (although you never tell the person that it’s a re-gift). I think it’s more accepted her because the return system in Japan is not utilized near as much as in the US. Still, it just doesn’t make much financial sense to do nothing with a gift that you aren’t going to use.
Another part of the survey I found interesting was the following:
To help ensure that a gift will truly go toward the purchase of something special, consider steering clear of giving cash. The survey found that while 85 percent of Americans use gift cards to buy something special for themselves or to go out to dinner, those who receive cash are more apt to pay bills.
My opinion on gift cards is already well known, but I found it interesting that there is an assumption in the article that a gift must be used to purchase something rather than used where it may be needed most. I think that there are a number of ways that you can give money as a gift and if paying off bills is the best place for someone to use that money, I don’t have a problem with that. I guess the way I feel about it is that if you want to to go to something specific, then you should get that specific gift, but if you aren’t sure what they want, then I should let them use the money where it is most beneficial to them.
Possibly I’m too practical when it comes to gift giving (my wife might agree on this point), but it seems that the advertisers have done a good job in making us think that we have to buy gifts in a certain way or it just isn’t “proper.”