Regifting simply means that you give on to someone else a gift that you yourself have received. The practice of regifting has probably always been around, perhaps to a somewhat lesser degree in times of marginal prosperity, but in recent years it has become more openly popular and gained in general acceptance. The urge to recycle our stuff in the name of regifting comes from a self-interested desire to rid ourselves of something we don’t need or want and will never use.

Etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute approve of regifting in some circumstances, and more than half the adults who participated in a recent survey agree that it is an acceptable practice if done with consideration and respect. However, there are a few fundamental guidelines for regifting. Whatever the gift, someone has gone to some effort and trouble to give the gift, and should be thanked for his or her thoughtfulness, even if the gift is the last thing in the world you want. If you’re intent on divesting yourself of the gift, there are some considerations for regifting:

  • The gift/merchandise must be in perfect condition, in the original packaging, and come with instructions. It must be something the recipient really needs or would like to have.
  • The gift is not a one-of-a-kind item, handmade, or personalized.
  • Do not regift something to the original giver or to someone who might know the original giver. 
  • Remember that an unwanted gift could be a welcome donation to a charitable organization.

One of the steady streams of grief is the flow of regifted emotions. Whether or not we realize it, each expression of comfort we receive comes from the heart and life experiences of another, “‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:34-36 NRSV).

Love, comfort, compassion, and empathy are not items stocked on a shelf in the grief equivalent of an emotional food bank. Rather, these are God-given qualities of the human heart that grow and multiply as life is enriched by each experience of death, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV). Because we have received the gift of comfort from others who comfort us in service to God, we are able to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Because we are loved by God, we in turn regift God’s love when we love others. Emmanuel. God is present to us. From the limited sightline of our mortality, we are challenged to fully appreciate the enormity of God’s love, the original source of all our regifting, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NRSV). 

We find new life in giving away ourselves to others, “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8 NRSV). In giving—regifting whatever unique, individual gifts and graces have been entrusted to us by God—we receive. Through the exponential power of regifting, God uses the gifts of others to affirm to us the certainty of God’s abiding presence, so that we in turn may bless others. God gives us the victory over death and grief as we give and receive the gifts of God’s grace that bring us to a better place of life and peace and joy, “Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above” (James 1:17 CEB).

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Christina Georgina Rossetti 

Rossetti, Christina. A Christmas Carol. Scribner's Monthly: An Illustrated Magazine for the People, January, 1872.