Seinfeld taught us several questionable lessons, not the least of which is the art of creative gift-giving. From the regift, to the classic damaged and discounted gift, we learned a lot about what not to do when it comes to giving presents. Let these lessons serve as your holiday gift-giving guide.
Seinfeld can single-handedly take credit for coining the term “regift.” We were all doing it — recycling gifts we didn’t want — we just didn’t know what to call it. It made all of us feel better about recycling the garage sale bath salts our elderly aunt gave us into a white elephant gift. My sister has taken the regift to a whole new level — she steals something that belongs to you, waits until you forget about it and then wraps it up and gives it back to you for Christmas. Brilliant! You’re so happy to have the stolen goods back, it actually makes the perfect gift.
The cash gift
Out of ideas? You can always give what Jerry gave Elaine when they briefly got back together — cash. This gift is especially appropriate, according to Seinfeld, if you are someone’s uncle.
The thoughtful gift
If you think cash might get you in trouble like it did Jerry, you can take a page out of Kramer’s gift-giving book. For the same birthday that Jerry thoughtlessly gifted Elaine with greenbacks, Kramer got Elaine the bench she commented on when they were all shopping together. Kramer coupled his thoughtful gift with a sentimental card for a killer gift-giving combination — much to Jerry’s irritation.
The politically incorrect gift
Jerry lands a swing and a miss with his Indian statue gift that he presented to Elaine in front of her Native American friend. He spends the rest of the episode digging himself into an impossibly deep hole with one politically incorrect reference after another. This is more a lesson in how not to give a gift.
The dangerous gift
While giving expensive cigars is a great idea, burning down the property of the person who gave you the cigars is not. When Susan’s dad gave George cigars, he gave one to Kramer — who proceeded to burn down Susan’s dad’s cabin with it. There are better ways to thank someone for their generosity than destroying their property.
The discount gift
George, known for his cheapskate ways, gets Elaine a cashmere sweater. How characteristically generous of him, right? Not exactly. The white sweater has a red dot on it — naturally, George’s inner tightwad is thrilled the damaged gift is deeply discounted. If you go the route of the terminally thrifty, be warned. The damaged sweater got George in deep trouble twice — the first time when Elaine figured out what George had done and the second when George regifted the sweater to the company cleaning lady. She gets George fired when she figures it out. George’s cardinal gift-giving mistake? Coupling the discounted/damaged gift and the regift.
If traditional gift-giving is not for you, follow Frank Costanza’s lead and start your own holiday. Frank’s Festivus was less about gift-giving and more about “the airing of the grievances” followed by the “feats of strength.” Now that’s creative and it will save you a bundle during the holidays.
The overly generous gift
The comedy business has been good to Jerry. He decides to share his good fortune with his dad by buying him a Cadillac. Morty Seinfeld becomes alienated from the community, thanks to a nosy and annoying neighbor — Jack Klompus — and his Cadillac envy. The beautiful car ends up in the drink. If you’re going to give a very generous gift, make sure it will not make the recipient the envy of all of his or her peers.
The broken gift
Seinfeld taught us a lot about cheap electronics and broken gifts. From tip calculators, to the beeping organizer that hit someone in the head after it was hurled from a moving vehicle, to a watch that Jerry threw in a trash can and Uncle Leo recovered, we learned you should not cut corners when buying electronic devices and watches.
The naughty gift
Naughty gifts are so much fun and rarely cost that much money. Remember when Elaine secretly left the provocative message on Jerry’s tape recorder and George fell in love with her after hearing it? Not realizing George had the hots for her, Elaine pretended to be an adult film star with George as the object of her affection. That was likely the best gift George got all year.
The unwanted gift
If you pawn something you don’t want off onto someone else, don’t expect any favors in return. When Bania gives Jerry a brand-new suit he doesn’t really want, he expects Jerry to take him to dinner. Bania milks the gesture by only ordering soup when Jerry takes him out, thinking he’s deserving of a “real meal” in exchange for the suit. If someone is doing you a favor by taking something off your hands, don’t expect them to buy you soup, dinner or anything else.