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Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Is It Okay to Re-gift?

The holiday season is officially over. I hope you got, and were able to give, everything you wanted.

For me, the holidays were anything but typical. Accustomed to extreme cold and snow, I felt a little out of place surrounded by palms trees in African heat, but it was still the holidays. The essential elements were there: good food, good humour, good people. If there was one thing noticeably lacking, it was gifts.

Now I'm not the material type, a fact which makes living the frugal lifestyle infinitely easier for me, but I do like to have something for people to unwrap come late December. Like they say, it's the thought that counts, and if you don't have anything to give, it's a good reflection on the fact that you probably haven't done much thinking. I pride myself on coming up with thoughtful gifts that don't break the bank but this year was particularly challenging. I became very aware of how disconnected from the rest of the world the tiny West African country I currently call home actually is. Simply put, there's nothing to buy here and even the best online deals turned out too expensive when delivery costs were calculated in. So I had to get creative.

Instead of buying too many gifts, I made my own. Basically, I hit the kitchen and baked - cookies, cakes, pies, anything I could find the ingredients for. This approach had three affects. 1: It really started to feel like the holidays; there's something about cooking that gets me in the festive spirit like nothing else. 2: I saved a lot of money on gifts and was able to give my friends something novel they could really use and enjoy. 3: I put on those holiday pounds! (Which means there will be a few inexpensive exercise and diet ideas coming your way in the next couple of days...)

In my struggle to find suitable gifts I found myself reviewing and reconsidering my approach to gift-giving in general and the practice of re-gifting fleetingly danced through my head. I have never, ever been a proponent of re-gifting, or giving something as a gift that was once given to you as a gift (usually something you didn't like or ever use). If it's really true that it's the thought that counts, then what kind of thought goes into re-gifting? But in a place like Africa, where there's simply nothing to buy and it's too expensive to order anything, or in other such unusual situations, is it okay?

Personally, I'm still inclined to think not, but I started to wonder how often the practice really occurs and what people actually think about it. So I've decided to issue a poll (in the far-right sidebar) to see what you all think. Is it okay to re-gift? Did you see or experience re-gifting this year?

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