Dec. 20 – The Gift that Keeps on (Being) Green

GabeBell Ringers, Economics(BR)

Dec. 20th is National Regifting Day.

Tis the Season for gift-giving! White Elephant is a favorite holiday tradition for many groups and offices. Everyone contributes a gift, numbers are drawn, and in order, each person has the option of opening a gift, or taking one of the gifts from someone who has already opened won. As the game progresses, gifts are exchanged back and forth until no more exchanges are possible according to the rules.

Some people get their top choice. Others get what no one else wants.

In traditional gift-giving, other rules apply. Many people put considerable thought into getting just the right gift, and then assume that it will be cherished. On the receiving end, people sometimes like the gift, and other times don’t. When they don’t, what are they to do?

Why not “regift it?”



Of course regifting is something of an insult to the receiver. And if discovered, it also shines a poor light on the regifter. Why? Because it removes the sacrificial nature of gift-giving. If you’re giving up something you don’t want in the first place, then you’re not really offering anything you value to the receiver.

From an economic point of view, however, regifting makes perfectly good sense – so long as the final recipient actually wants the gift. You are taking something of low value to you, and trading it to someone else for something your value higher – the money for a newly purchased gift. Economic progress occurs when goods and services are transferred from low-value uses, to higher value uses.

So why not regift?



Questions:
  1. Have you ever regifted? Or been the knowing recipient of a regift? Did you feel it was less valuable? If you’ve played White Elephant, how does the feeling compare?
  2. Why do you think our culture scorns regifting? Should we change that?
  3. In our society full of abundance, many people have tried to move away from traditional gifts. Do you think gift-giving is less important culturally than in the past?

Image Citation:
[Photograph of Christmas presents] (2018).  Retrieved from https://gephardtdaily.com/consumer/hottest-toys-year/attachment/presents-3/