The Joy of Re-gifting

It’s almost Christmas Eve, and I’ve forged my way through stores from the Upper Village to the Costco Shopping Center. I’ve gawked at everything from ruby necklaces to a four-pack of princess coloring books. I’ve heard “Deck the Halls” rendered by everyone from Louie Armstrong to the Dixie Chicks.

I’ve only one thing left to do before I kick back and enjoy the season – decide who gets re-gifted the Captain Underpants key ring.

If you’ve been living on Mars the past few years, you may not have heard that re-gifting (a.k.a. passing along junk) has come out of the closet along with last year’s “I’ve got Christmas Attitude” tee shirt.

Re-gifting items received the past year is a brilliant solution to lack of storage space. If the trend continues, all of us might soon be able to park our cars in garages again.

Still, everyone knows it’s our patriotic duty to spend a gazillion dollars each December to insure we’ll have a stable economy come January. But what to do with the received gifts we ooh and aah over, but never use?

Re-gift them, ASAP!

Sure, it would be lovely to go back to olden times when the gift of a single orange could fill a child with joy. Can’t fathom it? Of course not. And neither could our ancestors. This was why they made that orange into the single fruitcake that has gone around the planet seven times in an unbroken chain of re-gifting since 1855.

More recently, eBay has proved online how one person’s trash is truly another’s treasure. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of this discovery during the holiday season?

Etiquette experts say re-gifted items must be new, nicely wrapped, and something the recipient would like to have.

People, people, re-gifting will not work with a bunch of hoity-toity rules. I say if we already knew what others wanted, we’d have given that stuff in the first place.

Meanwhile, we all have a stack of well-intentioned gifts desperately in need of unloading. Toward this end, my hubby and I have a yearly Good Grub and Gratuitous Gift get-together with friends Janaki and Rob. The goal is enough presents to exhaust each greedy inner child that we harbor.

We don’t feign gratitude while thinking, “good gravy, what will I do with this?” Why not? Because we have the 100% re-gifting rule. We give items we already have, including some received from them last year. The more absurd, the better.

For example, I’m re-gifting a giant box of Bisquick from Costco that someone “accidentally” bought while fantasizing about fluffy biscuits. The contents of this box would make pigs in a blanket for the entire state of Nebraska.

The package will look so opulent wrapped in poinsettia paper. And upon unwrapping it, Janaki will scream, “Are you insane?” We’ll roll on the floor laughing (a.k.a. ROFLOL and not that easy at our age) and follow it up with vows of revenge – maybe a gallon of olives.

Put the olives and Bisquick together with 10 pounds of cocktail weenies and champagne, and we’ll have a divine New Year’s Eve party. Or the Food Bank will benefit. Either way, it’s win-win.

Polls indicate women are more open to re-gifting than men. They had to take a poll to figure this out? Who does the holiday shopping in the first place?

Me. And it’s exhausting figuring out what my 14-year-old niece wants. No one, not even my niece, knows the answer.

Yet we women spend weeks trudging through stores, trying to unlock the mysteries of each perfect gift. We get it wrong so often we might as well send mail order mini-cheeses to everyone, even the kids, as my brother’s first wife used to do.

I’m not saying men don’t get into the holiday spirit. My hubby has toted a ton of packages this month, but his idea of sharing the shopping is to buy himself a watch, three pairs of novelty boxers, and the latest Merle Haggard CD, then declare, “Honey, I helped.” And, I am grateful for any help I can get.

So let’s all get into the spirit of re-gifting. When you unwrap your gifts, think, next year’s holiday shopping has already begun! Plan the joy of re-gifting in 2007 and discover which ones of your friends and family have senses of humor.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have to wrap that Captain Underpants key ring. A certain 14-year-old will be so ROFLOL.