Hate it? Don't bin it, pass it on

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 December, 2011, 12:00am


Although this city's garish skyscraper Christmas lights and mall decorations usually fail to inspire my festive spirit, a recent trip to London ignited a fair amount of excitement. The smell of pine, impeccably wrapped presents and comical knitwear suddenly seemed appealing.

Last month I offered advice on how to avoid Christmas shopping disasters. If you are hoping for some last-minute tips now, then dream on. It's too late to be dealing with this, and I won't lie: the last minute rush usually ends in tears.

We all know those people who get it horribly wrong, and we've all been on the receiving end of poor judgment. So today we'll address the awkward issue of what do to with gifts you don't like.

I've received vintage shoes the wrong size and accessories that I'll never wear; both were passed on to a friend's younger sister. Regifting is God's gift to those left with a pile of unwanted presents every Christmas or birthday. It is still considered something of a social faux pas. But since recycling has long been a buzzword, why shouldn't it apply to unwanted presents?

There are some rules of etiquette though; this isn't a pass to mindlessly throw all your unwanted tat in the direction of long-suffering friends just because you can't be bothered to buy them something nice.

Presents with sentimental value can't just be palmed off on someone else to save a few dollars. Gifts from children are meant to be cherished, even a few bits of spray-painted dried pasta strung into a necklace.

But when we enter the realm of ill-fitting socks, books you'll never read or cosmetics or toiletries you won't use, you might be forgiven for trying to recycle.

If you do regift, make sure that said present is of decent quality and will be appreciated. Nothing is sadder than a twice-recycled gift.

The repackaging must be impeccable. You should also handwrite a note or card. Consider the size, feel and colours of fashion-related items, and make sure they are age-appropriate.

A lot of friends donate unwanted items to charity - a far nobler cause. Many brands are doing the same thing. Lane Crawford's 'Wrapped with Love' local programme is donating blankets to the Crossroads Foundation, and Gucci has just committed another US$1.15 million to the Unicef Schools for Africa initiative.

Donating to charity is a good way to recycle unwanted gifts, although these, too, have to be a little bit appropriate - I'm not sure the Salvation Army will know what to do with a pair of brand new thigh-high stripper boots that came to you as an unwelcome gift from an old flame.