12 Steps to Holiday Re-Gifting

‘Tis the season of giving!

It is better to give than receive.  I think that’s how that goes.  I dug into my historical vaults to find the origins of this nobel sentiment.  Scholars debate the first time these words were spoken.  I found the true initial utterance of the phrase and it was not in ancient biblical text.

image from e-codices via flickr creative commons

Trust me…It’s in here somewhere             image from e-codices via flickr creative commons

My records reveal the words “It is better to give than receive,” were used by the very first re-gifter.

Re-gifting is the single holiday tradition that has withstood the test of time. Recent reports from an archeological excavation in Southwest Britain uncovered the original Holiday Fruitcake.  There are only three  Holiday Fruitcakes known to exist and they are continuously re-gifted from generation to generation giving the appearance of a new fruitcake.

Unearthing the First Holiday Fruitcake Image from John Atherton via flickr creative commons

Unearthing the First Holiday Fruitcake
Image from John Atherton via flickr creative commons

Re-gifting requires rules, more like actual guidelines, to pass off the unwanted crap your spinster Aunt Millie gave you last year.  You initially blamed Aunt Millie’s Dementia for the chipped and faded garden gnome.  It wasn’t until she moved to the swanky retirement condo in sunny Boca Raton that you realized she’d been using the holidays to dump her unwanted crap on you. The shrewd old bat had been planning this move all along.

Aunt Mille's Place in Boca image from Kim Seng via flickr creative commons

Aunt Mille’s Place in Boca
image from Kim Seng via flickr creative commons

In the spirit of this holiday season, I offer you the 12 Steps Approach to Re-gifting:

1. We admit that we are powerless over our re-gifting addiction and that our belongings have become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that careful re-gifting could restore us to sanity.

3. Make a decision to turn over our less than cherished possessions, based upon assurances that they will never come back to us.

4. Make a list of friends and relatives whom you have re-gifted.

5. Never admitted to our friends and relatives that the items they received were the things you couldn’t dump at a garage sale.

6. We are entirely ready to clean out our closets and get the blank look of surprise on the gifted person’s face.

7. Humbly ask that I not re-gift the same person two years in a row.

8. Make a list of all the re-giftable items in your garage, cellar or tool shed.

9. Never make amends to those who have been re-gifted.  Re-gifting is not for sissies and requires you to be constantly on guard against unnecessary guilty “feelings.”

10. Continue to take a personal inventory of “Who Got What” to aid in your re-gifting distribution.  The idea is to come off as “eccentric,” not “cheap.”

11. Sought through prayer and mediation that you don’t receive the same item back next year.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we share this message with all re-gifters and practice these principles in our daily affairs.

If you follow these 12 Steps, I’m certain your holiday season will be happy and bright.  For you at least.  Your Step-Cousin-Twice-Removed will fondly recall the time you gave him the talking bass wall plaque, in the original box.  You, on the other hand will be one talking bass closer to that condo in Boca Raton.

Besides, by the time they open these, you’ll be long gone.

Make Re-Gifted Items Look Nice image from stephanie kilgast

Make Re-Gifted Items Look Nice
image from stephanie kilgast

Happy Re-Gifiting Everyone!

You know you’ve re-gifted, so leave a comment and come clean on your best re-gift…



  1. So that’s why retail business is down. Thanks to Aunt Millie and people like her, everyone is regifting their crap!

    Great post.

  2. Yep, Aunt Mille is a trend setter! Re-Gifting is an art form all its own, with the benefit of cleaning out your garage. Thanks for reading, Diane!

  3. stephanie710 · · Reply

    Loved it!!! We’ve all gotten those obviously re-gifted items but the fear on the faces of the offending re-gifters makes it all worthwhile. They wait for just the right moment to get the nod of approval so they can breathe a sigh of relief, thinking they pulled it off. My worst re-gift was one I received from a friend, who had recently celebrated Chanukah. She gave me a candle, with a wick that had clearly been burned, and the blue Chanukah paper was still stuck to the bottom. I still have it in the cabinet above my fridge just for those days when I need a good laugh. Great post, as always. 🙂

  4. And then there’s the corporate version of this which you’ll find at your handy-dandy local nonprofit – donating the things that don’t sell at Christmas and taking a tax writeoff. Poor people at high risk of diabetes DEFINITELY need more peppermint marshmallows and Holiday Mountain Dew, thank you, thank you, big box store!

  5. stuckinscared · · Reply

    I am guilty of re-gifting…but only good-intentions-wrong-choice gifts that have been gifted to me and are still new/boxed/unused… and only if I believe the wrong choice (for me) is the right choice for someone else.

    However… I did receive a second hand re-gift last Christmas… In this instance a much loved, very old item that is as loved in my care as it was in the givers.

    The gnome story (or rather your telling of it) made me laugh. I’d have probably cherished the poor thing… might even have given it a coat of paint 🙂

    Great post. Happy new year to you. Kimmie.

    1. Happy new year to you too, Kimmie. I’ll check the tool shed and see if I have a left over garden gnome for you.

  6. Reblogged this on James L'Etoile and commented:

    In this time of last-minute Christmas prep–allow me to offer something to help. A 12-Step approach to re-gifting.

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