Monica Buck

Q. My future sister-in-law mailed me a small handbag as a gift. It had obviously been used (it was filled with dust and cat hair!). I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I would like her to realize that she needs to be more careful about regifting items.

Name withheld by request

A. Your soon-to-be sister-in-law is a new arrival on the family scene, and you don’t want to create a situation that will make her resent you at the next 20 Thanksgiving dinners (not to mention her upcoming wedding). For now, it might be best not to say anything. But going forward, if regifting damaged or soiled items becomes a habit of hers, you should point out her error. Say something like “It’s great that you’re trying to be thrifty and green by regifting, but you need to make sure the present is in good condition.” Trust me: You’ll be doing her a favor. My guess is that many of her other relations and friends would be less forgiving recipients of such a gift.

—Michelle Slatalla


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