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Encouraged Regifting

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Let's face it, looking for a gift for someone around the holidays can be hard. Even if you have an idea what they want, there's always a good chance it's sold out. This problem is just as difficult in fiction as it is in the real world. Many Christmas Specials revolve around trying to get the right gift for someone and the difficulties that entails. Often, the character finds the perfect gift at the last minute. However, sometimes they won't and need help from someone else. That's where this trope comes in.

Picture this: Alice has been trying to find a Christmas present for Bob. After failing to do so, they're approached by Carol, who gives Alice a present. She opens it, finding it's the perfect gift to give to Bob. Carol then tells Alice to give the gift to Bob.

A more cynical take on this trope is to have a character give a gift to someone who they know won't enjoy it so that they can use it for themselves.

May result in an Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment. Expect it to show up when there is a Secret Santa. Will often occur in the Christmas Episode or the Birthday Episode or any episode that focuses on a holiday where gifts are exchanged.


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    Comic Strip 
  • Done twice in Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Susie invites Hobbes (and Calvin, "if you must") to her birthday party. While Hobbes is brainstorming gift ideas, he suggests a can of tuna. When Calvin objects that it's not a good gift, Hobbes says they could always take it back and borrow a little mayo...
    • One Christmas, Hobbes gives Calvin some cans of tuna. Calvin feels guilty about not getting Hobbes a present, and the tiger cheerfully says that he planned that into the gift. If Calvin gave him his present back, it would be a great present for Hobbes. Calvin happily does so.
  • Crabgrass: This Christmas strip, Kevin and Miles both give each other a gift that they actually want themselves, and then mutually agree to trade.
  • Garfield: This strip features a mouse giving Garfield an early birthday present. Once Garfield figures out it's cheese, the mouse asks "Care to share?".

    Live-Action TV 
  • According to Jim: A variation occurs when Jim gives Andy a coupon for a $200 steak dinner for his birthday. Jim hopes that Andy will invite him to enjoy the steak dinner with him, effectively making it a gift for himself. However, Andy forgets about the coupon until it is about to expire, so Jim can't get his steak dinner. He decides to take things into his own hands and steal the coupon.
  • In Bones, Season 1's Christmas episode sees the gang trapped in the Jeffersonian by a quarantine. Everyone is stressed by the situation, especially Booth, who was supposed to get his son a Christmas present. The gang try to make the best of things and hold a pretty decent Christmas, including a Secret Santa where Zach gives Booth a robot he was working on earlier, explaining that "I thought you could give it to your son." This earns him a handshake from a delighted Booth.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: In "Empress Carlotta's Necklace", when Mel says his cousin Maxwell is a jewelry salesman, Buddy says that maybe he'll buy his wife cufflinks. When Sally questions his choice of gift, Buddy answers that she can give them to him. Apparently, he does this often.
  • Frasier: In one Christmas Episode Frasier had planned on getting his son some educational toys. When the ones he ordered won't arrive in time, he rushes to the toy store to get some. He manages to get the last few after persuading a man to sell the ones he'd gotten for his kid to him. However, then Frasier learns that his son doesn't want educational toys, but an action figure that's likely sold out by this time. Defeated, Frasier laments that he'll disappoint his son that Christmas. His father comforts him by giving him a present. Frasier opens it to see it's the exact toy his son wanted.
  • Weaponized on Monk. One Christmas Episode has the police department hold a secret Santa program. Stottlemeyer is gifted a bottle of wine of a variety he doesn't like, so he regifts it to another officer who does like it. The other officer drinks some of the wine and dies from poison. The culprit turns out to be the officer who organized the secret Santa and set it up so that Stottlemeyer would be the one who had to gift the other officer, gave him the poisoned bottle of wine, and hid the original gift he was to give the victim. She knew that he wouldn't like the wine and would give it to the victim.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, Jonah invents the Re-Gifter, a pair of nested gift boxes. They're specifically sized so that either box can fit inside the other—so the recipient can just put the outer box inside the inner box, then immediately give it away to someone else.
  • Saturday Night Live: Played for Laughs with "The Christmas Candle." Various women ("and most gays") find themselves in awkward situations where they have give presents either unexpectedly or to people they barely know, so they offer the titular candle—which, to be clear, is always the same candle, passed from person to person around the world. As the chorus of the song goes, "It's the gift of having a gift to give away!"
  • The Sopranos: One episode has both Soprano children do this for Carmela's birthday. AJ buys her a DVD of The Matrix that isn't even wrapped and starts watching the film without her, while Meadow buys her a voucher for a spa day for two where she already added herself as the plus one. Tony can barely conceal his irritation at the both of them.
  • Victorious: The Christmas Episode had Mr. Sikowitz making his class do a Secret Santa, with the requirement that gifts must be meaningful. Tori gets Andre, who has been down after getting a bad grade in his songwriting class. After failing to come up with a meaningful gift for Andre, Tori is approached by her secret Santa, Jade. Jade's gift to Tori is a way to improve Andre's grade by doing a performance of the song for his teacher, which will be passed off as Tori's gift.

    Myth & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: After Minos became king of Crete, he prayed to Poseidon to provide a bull to him as a sign that he was worthy of the throne; the sea god agreed on the condition that Minos sacrifice the animal back to him when the time came. Upon seeing the magnificent bull, however, Minos went back on his word, and the furious Poseidon extracted a bizarre revenge: he made Minos's wife, Queen Pasiphae, become desperately attracted to the bull, to the point where she nearly went mad from her desire. Pasiphae contracted Daedalus to build her a wooden cow so she could mate with the creature, and the resulting child became the Minotaur.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The tradition of the Fraggle Pebble for their "Festival of the Bells" in A Muppet Family Christmas is built on this trope (see here). The Fraggles give someone a pebble, who must then give it to someone else. They tell the meaning in the song "Pass it On," explaining that giving something with love will bring love back to you. The pebble's been passed between the Fraggles well over thirty times at this point; and in the special, it's given to Kermit's nephew Robin, who in turn gifts it to Grover.
    Red: [singing] When you're giving love away, love will come again to stay!

    Web Comics 
  • In one Christmas Dork Tower strip, Igor tells Matt that he "gives the gift of gaming". While he starts off making the valid point that there are games for everyone to enjoy, from small children to non-geeky adults, he eventually admits that the best part is if they don't want the games, which is why he's giving elderly relatives violent RPGs.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "Arthur's Perfect Christmas", Arthur wants to get his mom a glass bird to replace one he broke. Unfortunately, he breaks the new one on Christmas. He starts crying, thinking he's ruined Christmas, but is comforted by his uncle Fred. Fred decides to take the gift tag from Arthur's present and put it on the gift he was planning on giving Arthur's mom so that Arthur will have something to give his mother.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One Christmas, Homer forgets to get Marge a present. He searches all over town for something, but everything is either closed or sold out. Homer returns home, sad that he can't give Marge a present. However, Marge tells him that she knew he would forget to get her a gift. That's why her gift to Homer is a present he can give to her.
    • In "Life on the Fast Lane", Patty and Selma warn Marge that every present Homer gives her for her birthday is something he really buys for himself, like a tackle box or a Connie Chung calendar. These warnings come true when Homer presents this year's gift: a bowling ball with his name engraved on it.
      Homer: Beauty, isn't she?
      Marge: Well, it's hard for me to judge, SINCE I'VE NEVER BOWLED IN MY LIFE!
      Homer: Well, if you don't want it, I know someone who does.
  • In Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too, Christopher Robin is writing down what the others want from Santa, and for each one, Pooh asks Christopher to include a pot of honey, in case they want to share it with someone. Ironically, after the letter is sent, Pooh realizes he never asked for anything for himself (at least not directly); his attempt to get the letter back sets off the plot.