(last updated on September 24, 2014)
I don’t know if this is common around the world, but after Christmas Day there is a frenzy of returns at retail outlets across the United States, as people trade-in/trade-up their gifts to something they like better. To make exchanges easier, stores issue gift receipts to gift purchasers with the price omitted to maintain some semblance of propriety. Call me sentimental, but when someone gives me a present, I find it difficult to treat it as just another material asset to be cashed in. It just doesn’t jibe with what I think of as The Spirit of Giving. Why not leave warm cups of “Drano” out for Santa instead of milk while we’re at it, or have a nice reindeer venison stew for Christmas Dinner as we throw rocks at elves? But that’s just my moral outrage masking the true issue at hand: sometimes I get terrible presents and I’m not sure what to do with them. The barbarian materialists exchange their presents and are materially happier afterwards. Traditionalists like me get principles stuck in their craw, muttering bitterly as their houses fill with junk they can’t just throw away because “they were gifts.”
There is another gift-related practice here in the States called the Yankee Swap, associated with office Christmas parties, where you can potentially bring all your unwanted junk and gift it away to some poor sucker. Each person brings a present, and gets one in return. The trick is that each person draws their present based on a number, and they have the option of exchanging whatever they got with whatever someone before them got. It’s deliciously balances the Spirit of Giving with the Spirit of Taking Away, just the sort of spirit one needs to survive the modern corporate environment. We are what we are.
While this year I received no bad presents (in fact, they were all awesome), there was an interesting moment at one of these events when someone recognized a “real” gift from a Christmas many years in the past re-gifted to someone else. This created some awkwardness on the part of the re-gifter, though the original gift giver didn’t mind at all. This got me to thinking: we already have gift receipts. Why not take it a step further and include a re-gift receipt that establishes once and for all that once you are given a present, it’s yours to do with what you want?
Design of the Re-Gift Receipt
To create the Re-Gift Receipt, I used my Stockwell Rubber Stamp Kit (I’ll have to write about this sometime later) to create the RE-GIFT RECEIPT: YOUR GUILT-FREE PASS lettering at top. I scanned this in, colored it to resemble the purplish ink on old-style receipts, and laid out some text using an 8-point monospaced font (Bitstream Vera Sans Mono if you are curious…it’s one of my favorite console fonts).
Since I wanted to reproduce the length of the typical gift receipt—they are often filled with legal mumbo jumbo—I had to write some filler. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to cover some of the basic scenarios that lead to “poor gifting”. Here’s what it says:
RE-GIFT RECEIPT POLICY This present has been given to you by your (CIRCLE ONE): CO-WORKER(S) CASUAL BUDDY REALLY BUSY BEST FRIEND SIGNIFICANT OTHER OTHER ACQUAINTANCE If you like it, great! However, in the event that dismay and polite confusion ensued rather than joy, please allow that (CIRCLE ALL THAT APPLY): I DON’T REALLY KNOW YOU THAT WELL SO I JUST WINGED IT IT LOOKED MUCH BETTER ONLINE / IN THE STORE I’M A CLUELESS GUY/GAL WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT PRESENTS I GENUINELY THOUGHT YOU LIKED THIS KIND OF STUPID CRAP I DID ALL MY SHOPPING AT THE SAME STORE THIS IS WHAT THEY HAD I THOUGHT YOU COULD USE IT FOR HOBBY/WORK BUT WHAT DO I REALLY KNOW ABOUT IT MOM SAID “IT IS THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS” AND I BELIEVED HERE In the True Spirit of American Giving, this RE-GIFT RECEIPT entitles you to pass this item guilt-free to a third party, no questions asked. AUTHORIZING GIFT GIVER: RECIPIENT: by re-gifting this present, you agree that there is no reason to ever mention this again
I think this covers about 80% of all bad-gifting scenarios, and having it in an easy “circle your excuse” format really captures the Spirit of Exchanging Gifts For Better Ones: convenient, cheerfully impersonal, with no hard feelings at all.
After I got this text laid out in Illustrator, I noticed that the overly-crisp quality of the text was at-odds with my scanned rubber-stamp letterings. I applied a 1-pixel gaussian blur over all the text using a raster-based effect. It’s cool that you can do this stuff now; back in the old days, I’d have had to convert the whole file to a high-resolution TIFF file and that would have been a pain in the butt. Blurring the text slightly made everything fit together visually. I was pleased that the file size didn’t get too large either. At about 250KB for the PDF it’s about 100K larger than the non-blurred version, but that’s acceptable I think for the visual result. On the minus side, there’s a good chance that non-Adobe PDF readers will render the file incorrectly; let me know in the comments if you come across this problem. I’m curious.
Download the Re-Gift Receipt Forms
There’s three Re-Gift Receipts per 8.5″x11″ sheet. Just trim along the print marks and you’ll be ready to start disavowing any intended thoughtfulness to your gift giving. You could also use these forms to legitimately (sigh) let your friends know that you did your best, but there is no obligation to hold on to it…just don’t give it BACK. :-)
- Download Re-Gift Receipt Printable Form (PDF, 316K)
You will need a Portable Document Format (PDF) viewer installed such as Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print. If you can’t install Acrobat or are having trouble viewing the PDF, you can try these alternate downloads and “adjust size to fit to page” when you print:
PC users can right-click and choose “Save-As…” from the pop-up menu to download the file to your computer. Mac users can option-click and do the same, I believe.
Other Silly Things
If you appreciated the dubious value of this download, you might also like my Chain Letter Nullification Certificate, Arm-Mounted Task Nagger, Procrastinator’s Clock, and Social Yardstick designs. Enjoy! :-)