Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Nobody Asked Me But: Years of regifting possibilities

Now that the Christmas holiday season gift giving orgy is behind you, it’s time to take stock of all the unwanted paraphernalia littering your living room and work out a plan of action as to how you are going to get rid of this excess baggage.

This includes, of course, that silver-plated chafing dish from your great aunt, Cecilia, which made you force a giant fake smile after you unwrapped it and pretended that it was just what you were always hoping she would bequeath to you.

The cheapest and easiest way to deal with this problem involves the practice of regifting. This is an age-old ritual of giving gifts to people you may have overlooked before the holiday season while at the same time getting rid of those gifts you received for which you really have no use.

Nothing screams “cheap” louder than regifting a book that has a personal inscription written on the inside front cover by the original gift giver. What makes this even worse is if the inscription says something like “this story is a testament to the uniqueness of the love we found together” and you cross out the original name and replace it with your own. The presence, however, of a whole slew of crossed out inscriptions and names only goes to show how universal is the theme and makes the regift all the more precious.

One of the unexpected dangers of regifting occurs when you lose track of the origin of gifts you want to get rid of, and end up regifting to the very same person who had given you that gift originally. If you are lucky, that person had also regifted that item and lost track of not only whom he had given it to, but also that it had ever been in his possession in the first place. There exists this beautiful “circuit of regifting” in which an item makes its way through a number of gift exchanges among several members of a community before completing the cycle by returning to its original gift giver.

While you are in the process of lightening your load, it may be the right time to dump all those VHS videotapes that have been collecting in your storage space over the years. You can just bundle them together and wrap them in that chafing dish for a nice combo regift. Don’t forget to include that series of Jane Fonda fitness tapes that you never actually watched, but be careful as to whom you target them at or you may bruise someone’s ego with an unintended body image insult.

Other possible sources for regifting can come from your personal warehouse of unused toys and puzzles that have accumulated over the years. Dust off those Monopoly, Backgammon, Clue, Scrabble and other board games and send them off to their new homes. That 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle displaying a lit-up Niagara Falls at night, that may or may not be missing a handful of pieces, would probably make for a fabulous regift, especially if you give it to someone whom you know will never try to finish the puzzle.

Other untapped reservoirs for regiftables are appliances that have not been plugged in or had their batteries replaced since Thomas Edison patented the light bulb. These include toaster ovens that don’t turn off, blenders that leak, microwaves with broken timers and multi-disc changer CD players that will only play a disc for 10 seconds before switching to the next one. Malfunctioning lava lamps and fondue sets fall into this category, as does that Dust Buster that will only blow. When dropping off one of these special offerings, it is best that you do so when nobody is home or you may meet the same fate as when you try to leave a giant zucchini with a neighbour.

Other choices that fit into the regifting category are those folksy “objets d’art” that have inexplicably made their descent into your possession from you know not whom or when. These include that folk art bedside lamp with a base constructed from sea lion vertebrae that have been fused together with super glue and that emits the distinct odour of a kelp bed when the light is turned on. Another fine example is that Group of Seven paint-by-number reproduction of an Arthur Lismer masterpiece in which you can still see the numbers faintly revealing themselves through the pigment.

Don’t forget those gift certificates and gift coupons that have been collecting in your junk drawer in the unlikely event that you would actually wish to save 30 per cent on a set of radioactive tainted cobalt glazed dinnerware from China, or get a half-price admission discount on the 1993 Fall Fair. Equally useless but perfect for regifting are gift certificates to enterprises and commercial establishments that no longer exist. For instance, who wouldn’t be thrilled with receiving a prepaid mixed-media package from the long-gone Ganges Video Ranch, which consisted of rental of five laser video discs as well as the latest (for 1986) 8-bit fourth-generation hand-held Game Boy console?

A side shoot of regifting is an exercise I like to call re-carding. This undertaking fits under the moral guise of recycling and involves cutting out the front picture or graphic from a Christmas or birthday card you have already received, and gluing it onto a blank piece of card stock so you can reuse it. This works beautifully and can save you big bucks in card expenses. Usually, the re-card is indistinguishable from regular cards unless it has been imbedded with food stains or you use a picture that is somebody else’s family portrait photo.

Nobody asked me, but ‘tis the season for giving and nothing says generosity better than the practice of regifting. How is there a better way to declutter, recycle and reconnect with friends and family all at the same time? Those who will be the recipients of your excess bounty will likely be forever grateful for your thoughtfulness, once they have stopped muttering vile curses under their breath. Anyway, it’s someone else’s concern now and not your problem anymore. That is until the next objet d’art beer bottle cap map of Canada winds up on your doorstep.

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