This idea of regifting has been eating at me for months now, ever since a discussion with a parent at the kid's preschool about how, between family, church, work, neighbors and school, it seems like there's at least one but sometimes two kid birthday parties every weekend. And it's enough to make me want to stock a closet full of Playmobil, because it'd be easier than running to the store for every party.
And from there, we talked about book exchange parties, where kids were invited to bring two books they liked, and they'd trade them. And from there it was apparently a slippery enough slope for this parent to cop to regifting pretty frequently.
At which point I joked how I'm the clueless guy who keeps the system churning by inadvertently buying new, easily regiftable gifts. And they're all, you have no idea. And that actually, at their kid's party, they figured that a full 40% of their kid's haul--10 of 25 presents--were regifts. And none of this regifting is driven by a lack of means. Instead, it's--what? A lack of interest in shopping? A lack of interest in accumulating stuff, stuff and more stuff? Practicality? Convenience? An urge to declutter? Environmental awareness?
Some of these gifts were straight up, hot potato pass-alongs. One book, this parent said, even had an inscription to the giver for his birthday--which had just happened. And all three--the original giver, the regifter, and the regiftee, were all at both parties.
While there were a couple of unopened regifts--I didn't think to ask how they knew they were regifts--others were in opened or retaped original packages, different packaging, or even no packaging at all, just giftwrapping.
And that's when it occurred to me that maybe I was looking at regifting way too narrowly, as a way to manage down the social convention of gift giving. And that's fine. Your kid gets yet more toys they don't need, or gets duplicates, it seems like no big deal to be grateful--and then to pass them along when you think there's a better chance of their being used and loved.
But the real power of regifting might lie in teaching a kid to not only think of her friend, and give something her friend would like, but also to give something of her own to her friend. It could make the gift--and the gift process--more meaningful than, "Here's something my dad picked up for you at the toy store."
Obviously, that this kind of gifting is only regifting if the gift was originally a gift. But that's a technicality. What's important is the giving-without-shopping, the giving up. But what it also would entail is letting the recipient know that the kid's giving something of her own, and that you're not just offloading some used toy.
Which all sounds great in theory, but even almost six months and many parties after the discussion, I still haven't tried it out yet. Any thoughts?