Give It Again, Sam

By Michelle Singletary
Thursday, November 29, 2007

I can't let the holiday season go by without talking about regifting.

To regift is to give someone something you were given but didn't want or couldn't use. I've been a regifter for years, long before it became hip -- and controversial. I learned to regift from my grandmother, Big Mama, who raised my brothers and sisters and me.

There were many Christmases when Big Mama would place oranges, apples, tangerines and nuts on the different piles of presents she arranged for my siblings and me. She added the fruit and nuts to make our stacks seem larger.

It was tough for Big Mama on her low salary to buy a lot of gifts for the five of us. As we got older, we never let on that we knew the fruit and nuts had been regifted from the holiday bowls set out on the living room table.

We never complained because we knew her intent.

I get lots of letters and e-mails from people complaining about a regifted item. Often the notes tell more about the writer and his or her lack of gratitude. No matter how trifling you think the gift is, it's a gift nonetheless.

"If you are on the receiving end of a regift, really take comfort in knowing that most people are regifting with good intentions," says Kim McGrigg, spokeswoman for Money Management International, a credit-counseling organization that surveys why people regift.

Sixty-two percent of respondents in this year's survey said they regift because they know the present is something the recipient would really like.

As more people struggle with their finances, regifting is increasing. Money Management found that 42 percent of respondents said they would regift this year to save money. That's up from 33 percent in 2005.

In an effort to get people talking about the financial strains of holiday shopping, the organization launched a Web site devoted to regifting,

"It was a fun way to get people thinking about their gifting options other than spending more than they can afford," McGrigg said.

The site features regifting do's and don'ts. There's also a link ( to "Regifting for the Holidays," a catchy ditty by the band The Alice Project.

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