Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gifting and Regifting

Before I begin today's post I want to let you know that the lovely organic cafe where we ate in Hahndorf is The Seasonal Garden & Cafe. It doesn't have a webpage but, if you're on Facebook you can find it here

In the lead up to Christmas I read several blog posts about the merits of buying and giving second-hand presents. It wasn't something I'd ever done before. Frankly, it was something I was embarrassed to try. That embarrassment stems from my anxiety about gift giving. Generally speaking, if I'm not 100% sure that someone will like the present I give I buy a gift certificate. There is nothing wrong with gift certificates; I love getting them. I prefer to give and receive personal presents that show that someone really knows what I like. I guess it's a way of saying to someone that you know them well.

I've always had mixed feelings about regifting, as well. Part of me thinks it's insulting. Even though once you give a gift it's out of your hands, it upsets me to think someone may want to give away my gift. As you can tell, when God was giving out self-esteem I was on a toilet break and missed out. I've stored many a gift I've received over the years for fear of giving it away and offending someone. Either that or I've furtively gone to an op shop in dark glasses and head scarf to donate it to charity, hoping the giver doesn't shop there.

Yesterday, however, I had an "a-ha moment". It all started earlier when I decided to buy The Girlfriend a Stephen King book for her birthday. Now, she has only been The Girlfriend for four months so I didn't want to scare her with an expensive present; I just wanted to give her a little something to mark the occasion. Books are not cheap here in Australia but the young lady enjoys to read and we'd already given her a little bracelet for Christmas. Teenage Son asked subtle questions and ascertained that she loves second-hand books. You probably gathered from yesterday's post that the book shops we went to were second-hand.

As I sat making her card yesterday evening it occurred to me that books are meant to be read and shared. It's great to keep favourites but it's also great to pass books on. Why let them sit and gather dust when they could be in circulation for countless people to read? I realised that, not only did I not care if The Girlfriend regifted, donated or sold the books after she'd read them, but I'd be happy for her to do so; that way others could enjoy the books. I further realised that she wouldn't care whether they were second-hand or not, only that she now owned two of the books on her wish list. The Girlfriend was thrilled when she got her present this morning and I received a heartfelt hug from her.

That wasn't all, however. I then began to extrapolate that thought to all gifts. I sit here typing, wearing a second-hand dress my daughter bought for me for my birthday just over a year ago. (I picked it out.) It's pretty, cool and comfortable on our very hot day. I have another one bought at the same time. There is no way I would have let Teenage Daughter buy me two new dresses - too expensive for her. It simply didn't matter that they were second-hand; they were exactly what I wanted. I've never had a problem with other people buying second-hand presents; I just couldn't imagine doing it myself. I didn't want to offend anyone. Now I realise though that it isn't about where the gift is purchased; it's about the gift itself. So, from now on, I'm going to be more watchful on my visits to op shops because you never know when the perfect gift for someone may appear.

As for regifting or giving away gifts. I don't care about that anymore either. The gift may not be a book but, if I give someone something they don't want, need or like, I hope they will pass it on to someone who will.



  1. Very personal subject for all of us. I believe that a standout gift reflects the giver, so no one who has put the slightest effort into selecting a gift is going to show up with a bath oil basket (sorry, Calgon!). I wouldn't consider buying myself a new book, CD, or video game, but if I was buying you one for a formal gift, I wouldn't consider bringing you something that someone else had worn the shine off of, and maybe damaged, because that reflects on me, and what I think of our relationship. Now, if it was a casual drop-in for coffee, I might see a worn-out paperback I know you've been wanting and hand it to you at the door, but the only used book you'd get from me on your Birthday would be a Gutenberg Bible, or something equally unobtainable. Or if I knew something specific about your preferences. Two years ago for Christmas, my daughter found me a refurbished game that I played as a young teenager in the 1960s that hasn't been made for fifty years. Cost more than my car, and is on the top five list of coolest gifts I've ever received... But that's the exception.

    You see, all that ground covered, and that's just with a moment's thought. Gift-giving is a minefield, and in my mind, it pays to put the effort into the relationships you truly value.

    Just my two cents, which, by the way, won't buy used bubble gum over here any more...

    1. You have to know the recipient well to give second-hand but it's no longer something I would discount as a giver. I saw some beautiful old music manuscripts in equally old and ornate frames today. Perfect gifts for either of my muso children and probably more welcome than something new. Having written that, there are some people I just would never give second-hand to as they would be insulted.

  2. Some of the best gifts I ever gave and ever received were from op shops. The best part IMHO is that everyone wins: the charity you buy from, the person you buy for, the person buying (by saving), the environment (recycling wise), the volunteer workers (who are doing it as a work for Newstart thing).....the list goes on. I bought BF 2 bits of jewellry from op shops for her wedding (I bet her Hb wouldn't approve but prob didnt know, one was a pearl bracelet and the other was a blue bead bracelet that I recycled into an anklet for her something blue. The third piece (not bought at op shop) was the only one she didn't wear on the day / at all and I ended up sending back as it was bought new online and arrived (the day before said wedding) with the pearls (earings) being uneven......Kids chanukah presents were all from op shops and I frequently get them toys books and dress ups from there. Of course I buy presents for me there too!

    1. I think it's easier to find the "perfect gift" in an op shop. I find they have more variety then mainstream.

    2. At the risk of sounding cliched (where is the accent in this font?), the material gift itself is not as important as the thought and effort made by the giver. I love gifts that show that someone cares enough to know what I am about and the best gifts reflect the quality of the relationship. Whether the gift is new or second hand is irrelevant. The act of thoughtful giving is the important point. For me, it is the relationships in my life that count more than material things.