Got a present you aren’t going to use? Writer Lauren Windle explains why she thinks we should all be giving unwanted gifts a ‘second life’.

The fact is we all have too much stuff.


Source: Kira auf der Heide

Lauren Windle puts forward the case for regifting

It’s something most of us can acknowledge and, aside from a few Marie Kondo fans who have performed a brutal cull of their possessions, we should probably be doing something about it. 

But with a growing understanding of the environmental cost of manufacturing products, just chucking things in the bin could be wasteful and unnecessary. Instead we’re encouraged to give items a second life. Online shops like eBay, Depop and Vinted allow people to resell their clothes and other possessions to people who will value them and charity shop purchases are more popular than ever. We all want to do our bit for the environment.

So - in this post Christmas season - I want to put forward a case for regifting. Or as I call it ‘giving presents a second life’. The controversial practice of ‘redistributing’ a gift that you have little interest in is frowned upon I know, but let’s look at the options. 

Option 1: You take the present, smile, hug the person (covid permitting) and thank them for thinking of you. Then you put it in the back of your wardrobe, kitchen cabinet or garden shed and don’t think about it. In years to come your partner/friend/child may stumble across it and ask what it is. You’ll reply: ‘That’s just something someone bought me once. It wasn’t really my colour/style/interest’ and then you’ll get on with your life.

Option 2: You take the present, smile, hug the person (covid permitting) and thank them for thinking of you. Then you think of someone else who would genuinely enjoy this gift and get more use out of it than you would. You rewrap it and give it to them in two months time on their birthday. They are delighted and use the present every day - announcing to anyone who’ll listen what a wonderful friend you are.

Ok, so the last part may be unlikely, but you get my point. If you really know you won’t touch it, but suspect someone else would - give it to them. It’s not cheap, it’s not impersonal, it’s eco-friendly and sensible. 

Having said that, there are a few rules that it’s important to note when delving into the eco-friendly world of regifting:

  1. Never if you’ve used it. I don’t care if you just briefly gave it a whirl to be sure it wasn’t for you, you use it - you keep it.
  2. Never personalised. If they embroidered your initials on it, it stays.
  3. Never homemade. If they knitted it for you, they wanted you to have it.
  4. Never tell them it’s regifted. This isn’t strictly true, if they ask, of course you should be honest. But there’s no need to awkwardly announce that it’s a regift as you hand it over out of some sort of misplaced shame or guilt. You don’t need to ‘confess’ anything. It’s not a sin.

There you have it, play by the rules and regift away. I, and the environment, celebrate you as you give the gift of a ‘second life’ to unwanted presents.