Regifting need not be a dirty word

As seen in the Citizens Times:

Pass along family heirlooms, jewelry, other like-new items you don’t use but others may treasure

How many times have you heard the phrase, “It is the thought that counts?” If you are giving gifts this holiday season and don’t want to spend money but want to give wonderful gifts, it is possible. What it takes is “thought.”

It also takes some letting go and beautiful gift wrap.

The other day I was helping a client pack her bathroom for her upcoming move when she took a small, beautifully crafted glass perfume bottle off a shelf and said, “I have loved this, but I don’t know what to do with it now.” She placed the delicate orb and stopper in my hand. As the sunlight illuminated the delicate blue glass, I thought what a wonderful present for someone. In my mind’s eye I could see the bottle nestled in a silver box wrapped in elegant, purple ribbon.

This got me thinking for the umpteenth time about gifting some of our many possessions to others. The holiday season is a perfect time to let go. We all want to give love and care to those close to us. The traditional way to do that is to give a gift. The commercial idea is that we need to buy a gift. But some of the best gifts I have received came straight from my family’s closets or bookcases.

One of my sisters wraps up the books she buys each year and gives them to me. Every holiday I get all the up-to-date best-sellers. I am still wearing the vicuna coat my mother bought for herself 60 years ago. She gave it to me 25 years ago. Then there was the year my grandmother gave me a ring from her mother.

As a professional organizer, I never met a house that wasn’t full of things that could be given to other people. There are all sorts of places to look for presents in your house. You might not even “own” them exactly, maybe they are things that just showed up or have been camping out in your space.

The china cabinet or buffet is a great place to find porcelain, glass and linens. Maybe it is time to pass on that family heirloom or treasure. Go shopping in your closets for the unworn gloves or a grandmother’s vintage dress. Remember the jewelry boxes — the gold, the silver and the beads. Pretend you are at Barnes & Noble and look through your books, CDs and DVDs with an eye to letting go.

Peer into the back of the kitchen cabinets for the food processor, food dehydrator or chopper you could never figure out how to use. The item may be big but all you need is a big box, wrap and a bow.

The garage is a cornucopia of gifts. Don’t overlook your father’s tools or the bird feeder that is still in its package.

You are surrounded by things you can give away to people you love. Things they will love to have. Spend some thought this holiday. Take your time, look around. Find some great gifts. Let go. Feel lighter. Create space for the new year.

Julia Gunnels, of Asheville, is the owner of Simply Change, a professional organizing service. Robert Uherka is her business partner. For services, portfolio and other information, visit, call 230-2802 or email

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