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the art of re-gifting

Photo by Raw Pixel

Author: Sarah Brown 

Are you trying to be more sustainable this holiday season and feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of entering the  Christmas shopping madness to find gifts for loved ones? Fear not, Bare Market blogger Sarah has the answer to your woes. Enter, the art of re-gifting.


It can be difficult to be sustainable and anti-consumer during the holiday period. We're all bombarded with Christmas advertising, telling us to buy the perfect gift for loved ones. There are endless sales enticing us to buy more, more, more.

Let’s be real, we buy a lot of crap at this time of year.  We rush around trying to buy things as gifts for family and friends because we want to show them our love, but also, because social mores demand it of us. Did you know 545,000 tonnes of waste is generated in Canada from gift-wrapping and shopping bags each year? And that in Ontario, the projected average spend on holiday gifts is $805 per person?

What if you could save a whole lot of shopping-induced anxiety (and money) with one simple concept?  Well, I'm here to tell you that you can. It's called re-gifting!

Re-gifting or Giving Forward

Re-gifting is the art of taking something you already have and giving it to someone else. Revolutionary, I know. By taking an object you have previously loved and passing it on to someone else who you know will love it just as much, you’re reducing waste, saving money and not buying into the consumerist holiday madness.

You might be thinking, "But isn’t it a bit cheap to give someone something used?" The simple answer to that is "who cares." Obviously, you’re not going to gift someone your used socks or an old CD you never listen to. That would just be bad gift giving. Instead, take time to think carefully about who will be receiving the gift and what they might like. If you have something around your house that fits the bill, and that you don't really need, consider giving it away.  

Gift giving should never be about how much money you spent on the gift, it should be about the thought you put behind it. You’re also giving someone something unique, perhaps even something they’ve admired for years.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska


Here are some ideas for things you might re-gift:


Books are always my go-to Christmas present. Everyone needs a book! This year I’m sticking to that tradition but taking it one step further by gifting my friends books I have read, loved and no longer wish to keep. Make it an even more thoughtful gift by writing a personalized message inside the cover, telling the recipient why you loved the book and why you think they’ll enjoy it.

Pre-loved Clothes

Maybe you have friends who don’t like books (weirdos). For the fashion-forward people in your life, why not consider giving them an item of clothing you no longer need and that you know they’ll like. Have a sweater that you know your bff loves? Give it tothem! Maybe you have some awesome vintage shoes in the closet that have never quite fit right but are the perfect size for your sister? Wrap ‘em up! You obvi want to make sure it’s something in good condition; no holes or funky smells please.

This option may not work for every person you want to give something to (i.e. your father-in-law) but for some it’s a great option.


Are you a plant mom? It’s ok to admit it. If you have one too many plants hanging around in your apartment, why not consider wrapping one up as a gift for someone else? It’s sustainable, you could even customize it by painting the pot in a creative way.

A Piece of Art

Been thinking about decorating your place but haven’t gotten around to it? Maybe you could re-gift some interior décor items to a loved one. Perhaps a painting that you’re no longer in love with. Or a print you just never got around to getting framed. What about that decorative vase from the thrift store that’s been throwing off your feng-shui?

The Frugal, Sustainable Re-Gift

Now that the seed of the re-gifting concept has been planted, you’ll think twice before purchasing something new for the holiday gifting season. There are myriad options for re-gifting. What about that bottle of wine you’ve been saving? The fancy vinegar your mum bought you (even though you don’t like balsamic)? The pottery you made in that ceramics class but no longer want? Your girlfriends’ skateboard? The options are endless!

Personalize it: write a cute note about how much you loved the item and why you think it suits the person you’re giving it to. Remember, it's not about offloading old junk, it's about showing love in a sustainable way.

It may take your loved ones a while to warm to the concept, but the good news is that if they love you, they will love your (re-)gift. Because giving shouldn’t be about how much money you spent or how fancy the item is, it should about the thought that has gone into it.


About the Author: Originally from sunny Australia, Sarah came to Toronto to experience a Canadian winter (really!). She found Bare Market via Instagram and was instantly drawn to get involved. She loves farmers’ markets, sustainable fashion, all things package free and is way too excited about Toronto's compost bins!


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