It’s official. The boom is over. Everyone is downsizing for economic or environmental reasons, or both. The good news is you no longer need to feel guilty about regifting. On the contrary, regifting just might become your whole gift-giving strategy. Especially if you are the parents of small children and certain holidays are looming.

This is what happened for Jenn Ja Birchim and her family, and they just may have started a craze. Though they’ve struggled with alternative gift-giving strategies for years, they had not found the right approach-until now. They tried giving thrift store items, but that still meant a high level of consumption. They tried giving charitable donations, and they tried making presents, but that didn’t create the same post-unwrapping buzz.

When the Birchims recently cleaned out their house to make room for guests, though, they discovered that they had so many toys and clothes-some of them new or unused-that their daughters didn’t even notice when the stuff was gone. They realized, too, that their daughters weren’t necessarily interested in new toys, just in toys that were new to them. The LoaTree gift exchange emerged as the solution.

The Birchims invited everyone they knew, packed up all their extra stuff, and held an event last week at the Rancho Embarcadero Community Center in Goleta. Parents were encouraged to come by themselves to contribute items and then choose “new” gifts for their own children. Leftover items were donated to charitable causes.

Birchim reflected, “It’s been amazing. This little thing I was going to do in my backyard got moved to a community center. People started calling me from Carpinteria, from Santa Ynez, and Solvang. People came from all over to do it. They even offered to help.”

Birchim has plans to host another event next year, perhaps in a larger venue. She also recommended organizing your own event. “Anybody with kids has a connection with a community of families or friends. You can easily just organize it among yourselves.”


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