Why Must We Give New?

2009_given_present_4I’ve been invited to a bridal shower for the brother of my daughter-in-law. All well and good. My daughter-in-law and granddaughter will be going so it will be a nice way to visit. The bride and groom, like many, have set up a wedding registry to help guests select a useful gift.

So far so good, why give something the bride or groom won’t use.

I get it that helping out the formation of a new household is helpful. There are so many things needed to run a home that it is overwhelming to have to go out and buy everything to start. It is great for a bunch of people to chip in and help out the formation of the new domain, but don’t most people marry after they already have their own household these days, and don’t most couples live together prior to marriage and must it all be new?

And why is it OK for us to ask for things? Begging is not condoned, yet isn’t a registry just a formalized begging mechanism? I’ve even seen one registry that asked for monetary donations so the couple could go on an exotic vacation!

Why is it gauche to give used gifts that are in new condition?

Thoughtful gifting involves considering the needs and desires of the person(s) receiving the gift. Do they need it? Is it something they want? Will they use it? Is the gift in great working order and of good quality?

None of the above has the word ‘new’ in it. So why do most of us feel compelled to go out and buy a new thing-a-ma-jig for a gift when we have that same thing-a-ma-jig in like new condition sitting around unused?

If you’ve had a household (married or not) for any length of time, you know that some of these types of items just miraculously grow in the deep cluttered depths of your closets over the years. Sure, maybe you pulled them out once or twice and tried them out, but that was it. There they sit, gathering dust, still in their original box, unloved and unused. If you don’t have nearly new small appliances or household goods, perhaps you have quality art work or appreciating collectibles which the couple would enjoy or maybe a family heirloom which they have admired for years, or a piece of fine furniture you no longer have room to house.

Does the bride want crystal goblets and champagne glasses? Got’em years ago and they sit in my china cabinet, unused, now that family dinners no longer happen here at our house.

Do they want an apple peeler? Saw one in the box, brand new at a garage sale the other day for $5.

How about deceased Aunt M’s restored antique oak rocker – you’ve enjoyed it for years, let them enjoy it for awhile.

Let’s establish a new tradition.

Lots of brides and grooms have multiple showers – some for friends and peers and others for relatives.

For those family showers, why not have each shower guest bring several nearly new items, items from their collections or family heirlooms that would be useful or interesting for the couple. The shower host could set up an area for guests to put their items, then on the day of the shower, the couple could shop the area – picking those items they wanted and leaving the rest (which could then be donated to charity or the shower guest could take it back home).

Instead of stupid shower games, host a potluck lunch, letting guests bring food and drink.

This would have several benefits:

Saves money for the beleaguered family members who often get hit up multiple times. Those aunties would probably applaud and enjoy going to this kind of a shower! No silly games, great savings on gifts AND they get the opportunity to pass along that unneeded second electric can opener!

The host would also enjoy NOT having to provide fancy food, party favors and etc. The entertainment would be good food, good company and watching to see what the couple selects.

Helps the environment because we would be salvaging an already produced item.

Reuse, according to the EPA has the below benefits

  • Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials;
  • Saves energy;
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change;
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations;
  • Saves money;
  • Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators;
  • Allows products to be used to their fullest extent.

What? You aren’t comfortable giving non-new?

Take a look at these two posts, asking for user comments on giving used gifts. It seems most of the commenters are OK with it.

Get Rich Slowly – Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store?

Life Hacker – When Is It Okay to Give a Used Gift?

Really, I think it is a personal issue – do you as the giver feel OK giving slightly used gifts and do you think the recipient would be OK with getting something that is not brand new?

What’s your take?

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