Given the state of the economy and your bank account, purchasing gifts for certain friends and family may not be possible this holiday season.
But no need to worry if that is your situation. Surely you have nice but unused gifts stashed around your home. If so, pull them out to do what in the past might have been unthinkable — regift.
More Americans this year are planning on regifting or passing on a gift they received from someone else, according to a Consumer Reports survey on holiday shopping. The poll found that 36 percent of U.S. adults said they would recycle a gift, compared with 31 percent last year and 24 percent in 2007.
There should be no shame in this money saving strategy, says Jodi Newbern, author of "Regifting Revival! A Guide to Reusing Gifts Graciously" (Synergy Books, $16.95).
"With resources becoming scarcer and the economy becoming rockier, now is the time for regifting to be resurrected as a wonderful, wise and responsible way for all of us to fight against the continued waste of unwanted gifts," Newbern writes.
I've always advocated regifting. So I've chosen Newbern's book for the December pick for the Color of Money Book Club.
Newbern has written a fantastic how-to guide that just may win over many opponents of regifting. The glossy 161-page book is part persuasion, part regift manual. She promises — and delivers — a "definitive source for all things regiftable."
Cate Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, a nonprofit credit-counseling agency, notes that regifting is becoming a phenomenon. "Instead of going broke this holiday season, consumers should consider bringing unused gifts out of the supply closet," she said.
MMI has even created a Web site that provides a forum for fans and foes of the practice. For the third year, MMI is soliciting regifting stories — good and bad — on the Web site (www.regiftable.com). The contest, which has prizes valued up to $500, ends on Dec. 31.
After reading the entries posted so far, there are definitely a lot of people who need to read Newbern's book.
Pamela A. from Duluth, Minn., should buy the book to give to a bad regifter in her life. She wrote: "I gave my dad's girlfriend, who is cat crazy and collects anything cat, a beautiful couch throw that I had hunted for months to find for her. It was the perfect size for her couch and she used it for months. Imagine my surprise, when on Christmas morning five years ago, I opened my gift from her and found this comforter staring up at me from the box! (She) smiled joyfully and asked me how I liked her gift, and I told her that I had loved it when I gave it to her. Boy was her face red!"
For the novice regifter, Newbern provides a handy template for a gift inventory log. The biggest "don't" in regifting is giving a gift back to someone who gave it to you.
For the regift pro, "Regifting Revival" may provide you with some new techniques. For example, I love the sample regift receipt (similar to a return receipt). In part, the receipt says: "This (Re) Gift Receipt has been given to you, along with your gift, to allow you the option to graciously regift this to anyone else, should you choose to do so, for any reason whatsoever, without guilt or shame."
Opponents of regifting often argue that it is inconsiderate or insulting to recycle a gift. That can be true if the gift isn't well presented and is unsuitable for the recipient. But does something have to be newly purchased to be appropriate and appreciated? If your intentions are good and you do this right, you can graciously regift without any resulting hurt feelings. Just follow Newbern's No. 1 rule of regifting: "Almost any gift can be regifted, but not all gifts can be regifted in just any way."
It's easy to be a member of the Color of Money Book Club. We don't meet — at least not in person. We come together for a live online discussion. Join me at noon Dec. 17 at www.washingtonpost.com/discussions. Newbern will be my guest and we will both take your regifting questions and withstand your regifting jabs (because there are always some).
Every month, I randomly select readers to receive a copy of the featured book, donated by the publisher. For a chance to win Newbern's book, send an e-mail to colorofmoney(at)washpost.com with your name and address.