Rethinking Gift Giving Part 2

Where To Start Looking In the Pile
By Mary Stephens


If you haven't read the first part of this article, this page will probably not mean much to you.  Go back and read the first page to understand what this is about.
So, where to start the search for those regiftable items?

A. The book shelf.

Ok, to get the worst over first, let's take a look at the book shelves. (I love books, so this will be a bit hard for me.)  Here are some types of books that could make nice gifts.

  1. Craft books.  (Be sure to give them where they will be appreciated.)
    I have some that I've never used or seldom used.  I have counted cross stitch and embroidery books that I am not likely to use because I have others that I like better or would sooner utilize.  The unused or unlikely to be used are a good starting point for gifting away extras.

  2. Reference books - Birds books, flower books, gardening books, etc. 
    Example 1: My grandparents brought home a bird identifying book from England when they left years ago.  I'm not sure why they did that, but it was pretty much dead weight as I doubt that it was ever used again and we had to get rid of it later.  If you are leaving an area or have left it, the reference books relating to it - birds, flowers, plants, etc. - could make a nice gift to someone who still lives there. 
    Example 2: When my parents found a newer encyclopedia second hand, they gave their older one to some friends that didn't have one at all.  It was in good condition and they were glad to get it.

  3. Extra copies of really good books. 
    Our family has certain books that we keep an eye out for when shopping for second hand books because we either especially like them or they are hard to find in the older, non-updated version.  But, you can have too much of a good thing sometimes, and these extra copies can make good gifts to those who would appreciate them.

  4. Children's books.
    If you have children's books that are in good condition and they are not likely to be used in your home again they might make a nice gifts for children in your family or other children that you know would like them.

  5. Family "heirlooms".
    Sometimes a family "treasure" comes into our possession that we are not exactly thrilled with.  This can happen with books as well as other items.  Maybe someone else in your family would just love to have that copy of Civil War history that doesn't really interest you.  Pass it on as a gift.

B. The sewing/craft room.

Here's another area that can be a challenge for those of us who sew and have fabric stashes.  But, by very virtue of the fact that there is often more than is needed here, it can be a good place to look for gifts for our sewing and crafting friends.

  1. The fabric stash.
    Obviously, if you have a large stash like some of us do, this is going to be a place to look for potential gifts.  What about the piece of fabric that you like, but haven't used in all these years and aren't likely to use?  What about that piece that is too small to make anything much for you or anyone in your family, but is just the right size for something for a little girl or boy?  Gift them on to other people that sew, or make them up into something as a gift.  And, remember, stasher always like something new for their stash, so if you can give them something they might use, it will be acceptable. ;-)

  2. Paints, art supplies.
    Sometimes we get a collection of craft paints and other art supplies that we don't end up using the way we had expected.  These can make nice gifts, especially for young crafters who maybe can't get all the supplies that they would like to have.  If they are serious about their crafting, you can count on them to be happy to receive your little or unused stuff.  I was seldom disappointed to receive someone else's cast off crafting supplies when I was a teen.  I thought I could use almost anything, as long as it wasn't almost used up already.

  3. Scraps and vintage clothing or cloth.
    Scrap quilters may really love getting that pile of outdated fabric or vintage clothing that you have no use for.

  4. Accidental purchases and items never used.
    If you are like me, and others I know, you have probably bought something that you later discovered that you didn't need - an extra package of pins, some ribbon that was the wrong color, a replacement for something that immediately showed up, etc.  Patterns sometimes have a habit of being bought and never used.  These items, while they may not be gift worthy individually, could become part of a combination gift or gift basket.  Example - an unused hat pattern, a piece of fabric or two (enough to make a hat), a piece of ribbon that compliments or matches the fabric, and an extra box of pins could be arranged nicely as a gift in an small basket that you weren't using .

C. The kitchen.

  1. Cook books.
    This really ought to go with the bookshelf section, but since it relates directly to the kitchen it can go here.  A lot of cooks have cook books that they don't use - gifts they received, ones they bought and never use, family "heirlooms" that were passed down from mothers and grandmothers and aunts.  If they are in reasonable condition, or "vintage" they can serve well as a gift to someone who is more likely to use them.

  2. Extra home canned goods.
    If you can jams, jellies, fruit or pickles these can make very nice last minute gifts.  My brother has a friend who is more than happy to receive a jar of homemade saur kraut any time we want to give him one. :-)

  3. Gadgets.
    Sometimes we buy or are given kitchen gadgets that we never use.  They may be in like-new-condition, or only in need of a good cleaning to make them so.  These items may prove useful to someone on your gift list.

  4. Extra food items.
    My family sometimes buys in quantity fruit or other food products that we find on clearance or for an excellent price.  These could actually make a nice gift for someone if the situation arose at the time these things were on hand.  Example: My dad once found large wheels of gouda cheese for an exceptional price at a grocery outlet store when my family lived in Tennessee.  He bought at least one.  We cut it in wedges and stored them in an extra fridge we had, but we could have easily given a wedge to someone as a gift.  (In fact, we did share it with my sister's family probably.)

D. The wardrobe, dresser, closet.

For the most part used clothing doesn't make the nicest gifts. But, there may be a few items lurking in your closet/dresser that could be "regifted".

  1. Gifts that didn't fit or appeal.
    You may have some clothing items that were given to you as a gift which you never wore for one reason or another.  Sometimes we save these things for sentimental reasons, but really we should make an effort to let go of them if they do nothing but clutter our lives. So, if you have any items like this that are appropriate to pass on as a gift, don't hesitate.  Someone else may enjoy them!

  2. Lotions, perfumes and cosmetic items.
    I will add these here for lack of a better place.  I have received lotion and perfume as gifts upon occasion.  Often they are not something that I can use due to an intolerance to many fragrances.  Another mistake we sometimes make is buying something that we later realize was not what we intended to get or doesn't fit the need.  If unused, these things can make nice gifts to pass on to someone else if appropriate.

  3. Adornments - hats, jewelry, scarves, etc.
    Pretty much the same applies as for the items above.  Make sure they are clean and unstained and it good condition.  (By the way, are you hanging onto Aunt Millie's old hat or brooch collection stored in boxes in the attic or garage because you just can't bear to part with it or you plan to use it "someday"?  How about gifting some of them to some nieces, daughters, or granddaughters who could enjoy wearing them or hanging them on their wall?)

E. The storage area.

There is often a lot of stuff hiding in the storage area that is just waiting to be passed on to someone else.  If it's not good enough to gift it should go to a second hand store or be sold in a yard sale.  If you poke around among the things you are bound to find something that could be passed on as a gift.  You will probably recognize it when you see it.

Here are some items that come to mind that might be in the storage area:

Baskets, artificial flowers, weights, tools, books.
Extra dishes, towels and house decor.
Clothing, fabric, sheets and pillow cases.
Family "treasures" that you don't like, need or have a use for.

Unfortunately all that dust can't be passed on! :-)

F. The china closet and buffet.

The china closet, dining room cupboards and buffet can be an interesting place to find nice unused items to use as gifts.  A lot of us have stuff that we seldom use but we really like it and aren't willing to part with it.  But, what about those things that are only borderline - those family "heirlooms" that we really don't like, that wedding gift that we can't stand to use but can't stand to send to the second hand shop, the gift that someone bought us that is really ugly to us but too "special" to discard, etc.?  You will probably find something there that you can part with.


background, graphics by mary stephens
July 2011