Dec. 17, 2008— -- Barbara Bitela has a box reserved for vanilla-scented lotions, necklaces and white wine. They're the gifts people give her that the California resident has no use for – she doesn't like the smell of vanilla, she finds wearing jewelry around her neck uncomfortable and she rarely drinks white wine.
But Bitela doesn't let the gifts go to waste. When she's in a hurry and needs to find someone a Christmas or birthday gift, the box is the first place she looks.
Bitela is an avid regifter – someone who gives away presents that someone else gave to her. Bitela is such a fan of the practice that she wrote a book about it: "The Art of Regifting."
"Like many families, during the Christmas season, we get so many things we can't use, don't want or can't stand to have around the house," Bitela writes, "that we have resorted to this precious activity."
Given the recession and the financial pressures facing many consumers this year, when it comes to holiday gift-giving, more people might decide to follow Bitela's lead.
"I think people will be looking this year to be more creative on their gift giving because of all the issues that we have right now in the economy. People are just more welcome to ideas and ways that they can actually cut back in the holidays," said Tanisha Warner of Money Management International, a credit counseling agency. Two years ago, Money Management created Regiftable.com, a Web site dedicated exclusively to regifting.
"We're always looking for ways to give people tips during the holidays to save money. This was just one of the angles we wanted to use," Warner said.
Juan DeCaprio, 24, said he planned to regift for the first time this year because he's worried about losing his job. The Southern California man will give his mother, father and girlfriend presents that he receives from others, he said.
"I'm just trying to save as much as possible," DeCaprio said, "in case I'm next on the layoff list."