A gift is defined as something given voluntarily without the expectation of return. It is an act to show love and appreciation or honor an occasion. It is also a gesture of help or favor.

But in reality, is it a voluntary act, or is it a part of a system of reciprocity?

It is a part of the perpetual system of generational and intergenerational reciprocity where every gift is returned while being mindful of the honor of the giver and the receiver. The gift could be in the form of an item of status or spiritual or material possession, with similar reciprocity rules applied to each one of them. The rule could be to maintain the equal return value for a stable system of honor or to produce a contest of escalating honor with a higher value of every reciprocating gift. The whole society appears to be a system of cycling gifts.

When it comes to material things, gift-giving, in reality, is a consumption choice made by someone else for someone. Unfortunately, in many cases, gift-giving leads to the accumulation of unuseful material things. The best gift is a gift that fulfills a need, not only from the giver’s point of view but actually for the receiver.

The system of cycling the items of material possession as gifts is so engraved in our daily lives that even the minimalists and environmentalists find it hard to break out of it. However, research has shown that this system of gift-giving items of material possessions is a potential source of deadweight loss. The deadweight loss occurs when the perceived value of a gift to the receiver is less than the value to the giver. The deadweight loss increases as the social distance and age gap increases between the gift receiver and the giver. Research suggests giving gifts to only close relatives whose needs and taste we know well else giving cash is the best option. The concept of Regift is not new. However, the research shows many misconceptions about how the previous giver and the final receiver feel or think about regifting.

Considering the current overconsumption, underutilization, and wastage of resources, removing those misconceptions with redefining the gift-giving system that involves items of material possessions is necessary. There isn’t one size fit all solution to such complex systems-related problems. Instead, we should choose the one that works for us in the individual situation. But one thing that we all can do is give options to make it easy for those who intend to gift us. By doing so we will use our power to bring in a positive change in the system of cycling gifts of the items of material possessions and reduce accumulation and consumption of unwanted things.

 Every year the Thursday before Christmas is celebrated as the Regifting day.


Published by Wizactoscope

A platform to highlight and bring together the scientific, experiential, or cultural wisdom and actions to inspire and accelerate our species' #RaceToNetZero and sustainability on this blue-green planet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: