We’re excited to introduce Krrbside Questions, a column created solely to answer your queries about living local and being the good neighbor we know you all are. First up with some super helpful advice is Jett Superior, recently featured in our Member Spotlight. This Southern lover of all things secondhand, vintage and handmade has what she calls “crackerjack ingenuity” and a knack for redoing roadside furniture. Be sure to check out the first column in the series. Have a burning question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure to get it in the right hands.
Over the years, I have received a ton of great gifts but some remain unused and are piling up in my closet. What’s the etiquette on regifting?
Let’s be frank: Not every gift you receive is going to be useful or suit your tastes. It’s okay to not adore every gift as long as you received it gratefully and warmly from the giver.
I don’t know what the etiquette experts say, but I say that regifting is perfectly practical and acceptable (not to mention fiscally and environmentally responsible!) if approached with straightforward common sense. Here are my seven recommendations for regifting your closet pile:
- Do NOT regift an item if you can’t remember the source. If you can’t remember who gave something to you, then you run the risk of giving it back to the original giver. Hurting feelings –even if unintentionally— runs counter to the spirit of both giving and regifting.
- Don’t use something and then regift it. Regift new items only.
- Check gifts carefully for inscriptions, enclosures, or other signs that you received them first. Cards and prior wrapping should be removed and discarded in favor of new presentation.
- Don’t regift anything inscribed, engraved, or expired. If a book has a personal note penned on the inside of the cover, it’s yours to keep. If you don’t eat fish but accidentally let the date on that fancy vacuum-packed salmon slip by you, that’s unfortunate.
- Anything handmade specifically for you (to include baked goods) is ineligible for regifting.
- I consider a ‘pass-along’ different than regifting. When you regift, you’re presenting a new item as a personal gift. When you pass something along you approach it in a different manner: “Hey, Mom. Kelly made me a pound of her great fudge, but she didn’t know yet that the doctor told me to restrict my sugar intake for a while. Would you and Dad like to take it home with you?” See? Pass-along. If you can’t use something but cannot regift it there’s no shame in homing it with someone who can enjoy it.
- Don’t just give away any ol’ thing to any ol’ body. Take care to match gifts to recipients that will be excited by and appreciative of them, just as you would if you were shopping for them. The regift has to make sense. You don’t want the regift to end up a regift.
Those are my best recommendations. Every now and then you’ll receive something that defies regifting. For instance, a hefty resin ‘sculpture’ of a lighthouse on a craggy peak that doubles as a nightlight. And oh, look! It comes complete with electronic sounds of screaming gulls! Yes. I got one of those a few Christmases back. No one should be subjected to that. It was new in the box when Goodwill got it… but I held on to it for a couple of years first, homed safely in a closet, just in case the giver shopped there.
There is a blank brick wall in my home that’s driving me nuts. The problem is that my landlord won’t let me drill any holes to hang art. What’s a renter to do?
Don’t panic! You have options; this obstacle is minor and just requires a little creative workaround. You didn’t tell me much about the space or what you plan to do with it, so I’m just going to give you a few ideas to get you started.
I have to cop to having an affinity for exposed brick. There’s a good deal of it in our home and I love every square inch. If your space is like most I’ve seen, then your brick wall is large and sort of anchors the room. If that’s the case, you have more than one option.
You can use the wall just to display art just like you would a large sheetrock wall. There are two things that are ideal for this if you have framed art or mirrors. The first is something known as a brick clip. These are easily installed, come in various sizes, don’t deface the brick in any way and can hold up to 25 pounds apiece. You do have to have a wall that has at least an eighth of an inch well between the brick and mortar to use these clips.
You can also buy industrial-strength Velcro, which adheres to several types of porous surfaces, including most brick. Attach the Velcro to the upper and lower rails of your frames and affix them directly to the wall away from any heat sources or direct sunlight. This type of Velcro is removable, but you may have to use some Goo-Gone on the face of the brick when you remove it because its adhesive is super-tacky.
On an especially large wall you may want to consider some bookshelves for display. A key factor in choosing pieces is their openness, which allows the brick’s beauty and texture to shine through. One way to capitalize on your brick’s industrial loveliness is a leaning ladder-style shelf or two.
My favorite idea, however, allows you to play around. Gather a bunch of end or coffee tables from thrift stores and yard sales and paint them a uniform color. After painting them, stack them until you find a pleasing arrangement. Once you like what you see, bolt them together. You can do single straight up-and-down stack or you can make a shelving unit two or three tables wide, staggering different sizes. There’s no right or wrong way to do it; just arrange the tables until they feel right for the space.
I hope I’ve given you a good start to decorating your ‘problem wall’. When you get it all pulled together, we’d love to see pictures of your hard work!