what if: you measured the ‘regifting’ cycle?


Everyone’s done it once. You receive a gift that underwhelms you. (Wine, or chocolates, or uninspiring hand-cream.) You put it away somewhere, to deal with later. And then at some point, an occasion arises calling for a gift, so you pass it on.

You regift your gift.

I was chatting with a friend the other night about the whole regifting phenomenon, wondering about it. Like, how long does it take, on average, for a box of chocolates to pass from the original purchaser to the final eater? How far does it go? How many times is it regifted in between, and in what circumstances? Could it be possible to find out?

Could we possibly measure the regifting cycle?

So here’s the proposition.

We conduct an experiment.


Two boxes of chocolates. (The average, unappetising kind: cheap, compound chocolate.)

Two sets of parents (mine, in Sydney. And my friend’s folks in London. We decided parents were necessary as neither of us attend sufficient dinner parties to make the experiment worthwhile. And we thought the international element might provide a nice comparative touch.)


Step 1. We place a note inside the lid of each chocolate box, asking the person reading it – the final desperate, clearly sugar deficient opener of the box – to get in touch with us. We then reseal the boxes so they look undoctored.

Step 2. We then congratulate ourselves on our deviousness.

Step 3. We hand over the chocolates to respective parents.

Step 4. Parents, attending their next dinner party, hand over the chocolates to the hosts. One in Sydney. One in London.

Step 5. Hopefully, the chocolates circulate, from dinner party to dinner party, for a while.

Step 6. Finally, someone opens the box.

Step 7. They read the note, appreciate the obvious brilliance and verve of the experiment and immediately contact us to let us know the box has been opened.

Step 8. We tabulate results and attempt to retrace the path each box has taken. ‘

Interesting, no? Please comment. I’d love any tips (especially from someone with an actual clue about conducting research) about how this method might be improved.


One thought on “what if: you measured the ‘regifting’ cycle?

  1. Hmm are the parents aware of this experiment? My only concern would be the ethical issue of not letting your parents in on the experiment. You wouldn’t want them being unaware, giving the gift, and then say, the host opens the box at the party so guests can have a nibble and the whole thing being ruined?

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