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Regifting or regiving is the act of taking a gift that has been received and giving it to somebody else, sometimes in the guise of a new gift. One example of a formalization of this activity are the white elephant gift exchanges, in which items can be regifted from year to year.

Wilmington's mayor, Don Betz, admits that he's a regifter, lured to the dark side of gift-giving by a sister in New York who sends bright, flashy polyester shirts every year. 'I'd never wear them,' Mr. Betz said. 'I try to give them to someone who can use them.'

— Mayor Don Betz, December 1995, Wilmington Star-News[1]

In the USA, "National Regifting Day" is December 18.[2] In Canada, eBay marketed "National Re-gifting Week" as December 26–30 (December 26 being Boxing Day, a time traditionally associated with gift-giving).[3]

Regiving differs from straightforward giving in that goods are not acquired specifically for donation. Typically, goods that have been received as a gift are offered to others, unbeknown to them that it was originally a gift to the person offering it.[4] Often the motives are principally charitable but also includes giving items which are surplus to one's needs.

However, re-gifting also refers the means of giving away unwanted gifts as a way of disposing them. Consider the "fruitcake gift" scenario. Someone receives a fruitcake but they don't like (or want) fruitcake but think someone else might. They give it away to someone who also may not like fruitcake either.

Regiving differs from recycling in that recycling is most often associated with breaking components down and rebuilding into new products.[5]

Origin of the term [edit]

The term was popularized by an episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld ("The Label Maker"), although the practice pre-dates the term substantially.[6][7][8] In the episode, the character Elaine calls Dr. Tim Whatley a "regifter" after he gives Jerry Seinfeld a label-maker that was originally given to Whatley by Elaine.

Another variant introduced in Seinfeld is degifting (see Indian giver), which refers to the act of demanding a gift back from the receiver.


Several rules of etiquette are proposed in popular media regarding regifting; they include rewrapping the gift, not using the gift before regifting it, and not giving the gift back to the original gift-giver.[9][10]

Regifting has become a popular addition to many white elephant gift exchanges or yankee swap events. There are no rules that specifically prohibit or encourage the practice of regifting at these parties, but generally the host of the party suggests regifting if it is an option. However, if the host suggests a spending limit for the party, it is generally poor etiquette to regift in lieu of making a purchase. The online variations of these exchanges eliminate this situation through their online purchasing requirements.

A variant of regifting was mentioned as one of Oprah's Favorite Things during the recession-themed 2008 episode.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll in Dec. 2010 showed that regifting was "commonplace."[11] Burçak Ertimur, one of the investigators in the study, and a professor of marketing at FDU, said “The popularity of regifting is driven by many things for different people. For some, it’s thrift in difficult economic times, or it’s a way to get around annoyingly high expectations about gift-giving. It’s also awareness of, or guilt over, how much stuff goes into the landfill. But the main reason might be just the sheer volume of stuff we have,” she said.[12]

Regifting has recently become more acceptable when it was adopted by environmentally and budgetary conscious people that encourage the Green Gifting concept.[13]


  1. ^ Maile Carpenter (1995-12-03). "The Gift You Keep On Giving". Wilmington Star-News (Wilmington, NC). p. 1D.
  2. ^ Jennifer Brett (2008-12-02). "The Social Butterfly; Do you regift? Get ready for National Regifting Day!". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The official holiday was created three years ago by a debt-counseling group called Money Management International as a way of espousing recycling and avoiding debt.
  3. ^ Roy Clancy (2007-12-27). "'re-gifting' trend hits a new low". The Daily Herald-Tribune. In the 'spirit of giving and regiving', eBay Canada is offering five free listings to each of its users during its 'National Re-Gifting Week', Dec. 26 to Dec. 30.
  4. ^ Jennifer Blake (2008-12-14). "The spirit of re-giving". Meadow Lake Progress (Saskatchewan, Canada).
  5. ^ "PM's advisor hails recycling as climate change action". 2006-11-08. Archived from the original on 2007-08-11. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  6. ^ "Word of the Week", by Kerry Maxwell, Macmillan English Dictionary. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
  7. ^ Cynthia Hubert (2006-12-10). "'Tis better to regift than to receive; Once parodied in a 'Seinfeld' episode, it's now acceptable to foist your unwanted presents on someone else". Sacramento Bee (California).
  8. ^ Chris Ayres (2006-12-26). "With regifting, that awful present is just for Christmas, not for life". London: The Times. p. 42.
  9. ^ 12 rules for 'regifting' without fear, by MP Dunleavey, MSN Money. Retrieved April 17, 2007
  10. ^ Bruce Weinstein (2007-12-23). "Holiday ethics: How to tactfully regift it". Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA). p. E14.
  11. ^ Leslie Kwoh, "Four in 10 New Jerseyans have regifted presents, poll finds," Star-Ledger, Dec. 21, 2010, p. C1.
  12. ^ Tom Hester, Sr., "Regifting’s popularity driven by many factors," New Jersey Newsroom. Dec. 20, 2010 accessed at
  13. ^ The Shuuk (11 February 2013). "Home Gift Ideas". The Shuuk. Archived from the original on 28 November 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.

Further reading[edit]

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