The term was popularized by an episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld ("The Label Maker"), although the practice pre-dates the term substantially. In the episode, the character Elaine calls Dr. Tim Whatley a "regifter" after he gives Jerry Seinfeld a label-maker that was originally given to Whatley by Elaine.
Another variant introduced in Seinfeld is degifting (see Indian giver), which refers to the act of demanding a gift back from the receiver.
Several rules of etiquette are proposed in popular media regarding regifting; they include rewrapping the gift, not using the gift before regifting it, and not giving the gift back to the original gift-giver.
Regifting has become a popular addition to many white elephant gift exchanges or yankee swap events. There are no rules that specifically prohibit or encourage the practice of regifting at these parties, but generally the host of the party suggests regifting if it is an option. However, if the host suggests a spending limit for the party, it is generally poor etiquette to regift in lieu of making a purchase. The online variations of these exchanges eliminate this situation through their online purchasing requirements.
A variant of regifting was mentioned as one of Oprah's Favorite Things during the recession-themed 2008 episode.
Regifting has recently become more acceptable when it was adopted by environmentally and budgetary conscience people that encourage the Green Gifting concept.
In the USA, "National Regifting Day" is defined as December 18. (Thurs. before Christmas/ December 16) In Canada, eBay marketed "National Re-gifting Week" as December 26-30 (December 26 being Boxing Day, a time traditionally associated with gift-giving).
Regiving differs from straightforward giving in that goods are not acquired specifically for donation. Typically, goods that have been received as a gift are offered to others, unbeknown to them that it was originally a gift to the person offering it. Often the motives are principally charitable but also includes giving items which are surplus to one's needs.
Regiving differs from recycling in that recycling is most often associated with breaking components down and rebuilding into new products.