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The Art Of Regifting

Senior man holding up pink panties
Senior man holding up pink panties

If you've just read the headline to this article and your cheeks are now prickling with shame, well, you're in fine company. Mine are ablaze, too.

I've regifted aftershave that smelled like incontinent cats. I've passed on polyester underwear that, on sight, brought me out in a rash. I've re-wrapped pyjamas because, dearest nana, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm in that uncomfortable middle-age between six and 60.

But with Christmas on the horizon, it's high time we erased the guilt from the dark dungeons of our memories. Why? Because the act of regifting is not the social leprosy it once was. According to an American survey undertaken to coincide with the country's National Regifting Day on December 19 (see, it's officially A Thing), more than 60 per cent of people reckon regifting is now more acceptable.

People in high places agree. In 2013, Qatar's ruling monarchy 'fessed up to regifting an entire lion to Detroit Zoo (though stopped short at explaining who had to wrap it, and where, precisely, that person was now).

So this Christmas, I'm already thinking of the act of regifting as recycling, not forwarding on someone else's crap. Spreading the love, not spreading the pain. One mate's trash will be another mate's treasure.

Now that regifting has poked its head out the cultural closet, I'm also writing myself a code of ethics, a set of Queensbury rules to prevent a free-for-all buffet of third- and fourth-hand present exchanges - one which, if not policed, will take regifting back to the underground.

For starters, that means only regifting to those beyond my close social circle. I'm still scarred by the tale of my mate Polly, who regifted a nail set she got from her aunt, only for said aunt to be there two years later when the present was unwrapped.

I'll also remember not to broadcast my intentions loudly. Otherwise, no one will believe it when - heaven forbid - I buy them a present with actual money. No one wants to be The Boy Who Cried Regift Wolf.

Once that important rule is tattooed into my brain, I'll have to remind myself that all pressies, even non-perishables, have a sell-by date. There's no point regifting the photo frame that's been lurking in the cupboard for years, when no one in the observable universe has printed a picture since Facebook.

Most importantly of all, though, I'll be upping the quality control of my regifting this Christmas. Gone are the scattergun days when, armed with a jar of Wite-Out, you could randomly re-name gift tags and hope for the best. Before regifting this season, I'll be deciding whether the object of my affections will actually appreciate the bounty I'm passing on.

If the answer is a no, then I'll be looking for another recipient. If it's still a no, then there's a Vinnie's around the corner.

If it's still a no, then there's good money to be made on eBay. Even, I hear, with cat-scented cologne.

Avoid the Christmas awkies this year. Add some Instant Scratch-Its to your gift!

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