The Gift That Keeps On Giving

This is not a post about buying livestock in the developing world instead of an i-Microwave for Christmas (although, imagine the touch screen possibilities – Tercero could be trained to make his own porridge at 5am).

Nor is this a post about the rampant consumerism that is destroying the true meaning of Christmas. I wrote that post last year and no one in my family read it.

This is a post about regifting.

According to Wikipedia, regifting 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. Wikipedia sets out the following etiquette for regifting:

  • rewrapping the gift;
  • not using the gift before regifting it;
  • and not giving the gift back to the original gift-giver.
Sri Lankans are almost compulsive in their dedication to regifting. I once had what I thought was a brilliant idea for an art-house film. The film would follow the path of a box of Lindt chocolates from its purchase on sale at Coles, to its gifting and re-gifting and re-re-gifting throughout the Sri Lankan community. If you GPS tagged the chocolate box you could actually plot an accurate map of most of the community’s location in Sydney. I got so excited by the idea I even wrote an outline for a Deepa Mehta-esque trilogy called Coriander, Cumin and Lindt.  Strangely, the Arts Council never emailed me back.
I regift. And, as the concept has finally featured on Oprah, I am not afraid to admit it anymore. Every year at my children’s birthday parties, I can be found surreptitiously squirrelling away a few presents before they make it onto the children’s present-radar. I do this because:
  • the children have too many toys and more toys only make them want and feel entitled to more toys*;
  • I loathe Westfield and anything that minimises the number of trips I have to make to Toys R Us is a good thing, even stealing from my own children;
  • some tenuous environmental reason (landfill, recycling, etc etc).
I am highly selective about which toys I regift. I only choose toys that:
  • require batteries that cost more than the toys themselves;
  • are possessed and make uncontrollable noises in the middle of the night;
  • perpetuate unhealthy gender stereotypes (eg. Bratz dolls and heavy artillery); and
  • require surgical pliers to be removed from their box.
“Doubles” are also regifted unless it is another light sabre, because you can never have too many of those.
These toys will then make their way around the birthday parties of the North Shore and the Christmas parties of my extended family, finding other children to love/under-value them and saving me time, money and tantrums at K-Mart.
This Christmas, as we stock up on Cars 2 merchandise for the children to add to their original Cars merchandise (thank you again Disney Pixar), I will also be:
  • making a donation to and its Christmas appeal to buy useful gifts for unaccompanied children in immigration detention centres; and
  • squirrelling away the multiple Finn McMissile cars with all its accoutrements that my children will inevitably receive;

because I like gifts that keep on giving.

 * Seriously Prima and Secundo, we currently have a Zhu Zhu Pet plague in our house – how many mechanised kung-fu hamsters do you need?

About Shankari Chandran

Six years ago we returned home from London to Sydney with our four young children and life has been chaos and comfort chocolate ever since.
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7 Responses to The Gift That Keeps On Giving

  1. Laura says:

    I love this! Could not agree more. I currently have a Barbie, circa 2007 sitting at the bottom of the gift draw. I squirrelled that away from my poor first born as I can’t abide them but then can’t bring myself to give it to anyone either (even friends of hers that I know have hundreds of the repellant things!). I would love to ban birthday gifts for children – if only I could get anyone to agree with me!

    • duckformationfamily says:

      I would totally vote for that. When we were in London I asked parents to donate to Room to Read instead of giving us gifts. The children all had so much, the party bags were bordering on ridiculous and I was starting to feel sick about it all! I think it would be great if parents could at least try to co-ordinate or pool resources or something – I get that children like to feel special on their birthday, all their friends get presents etc, but I just think more of a balance and perspective could be achieved with a little parental consensus building…

  2. Miss T says:

    I can’t bring myself to re-gift. We even have heaps of duplicate DVDs that I can’t bring myself to give as a gift because I somehow feel like that’s cheating. I wish I regifted!! I also feel the same way about items on sale. I can’t buy something on sale and pretend I got it full price, then I have to buy something else to make up the difference. It’s a very stupid mindset and one that only encourages consumerism. Just one of my many failings. Sigh.

  3. Pingback: The Presents of Consumerism » Miss T's Blog

  4. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award « message in a bottle

  5. Lashitha says:

    I love this post. As much I hate getting re-gifted gifts, and come on, we all know when we get one, I do it myself!!! I hate to admit that I have a “gift cupboard” at home – a double door one, full of items that we have received and awaiting to be regifted! I hate doing it, but I can’t bring myself to chuck the stuff out either!! AAARGH!

    • duckformationfamily says:

      I too have the dreaded gift cupboard. The kids found it the other day and it had to be relocated to another secret location. x

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