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Be thoughtful with secondhand gifts

By on November 2, 2012



ear Sara:

Would you be offended if someone gave you a smelly gift from a thrift store? This just happened to me. I know it’s the thought that counts, so I made sure to sound really appreciative of the gift without making a face about the smell, but it was BAD. Soap and water didn’t work to remove the smell, so I used a vinegar rinse, which seems to have done the job. I checked the shirt today and the smell seems to be gone. — Shoiji, New Jersey

Dear Shoiji:

I was going to say I wouldn’t be offended, but I should clarify: In most situations, I wouldn’t be offended. It does depend on who was giving it to me. If it was coming from my husband, I’d probably be disappointed; but I’d give anyone the benefit of the doubt on an item that smells. It’s very possible that the giver didn’t notice the smell. And it really is the thought that counts, right? You handled it well. We teach our young children to be gracious when opening their birthday gifts. The same manners apply to us as adults. Some people would be offended by a secondhand gift, even if it didn’t smell. When giving gifts, you have to know whether or not the gift recipient can appreciate a secondhand item and you need to give the same thoughtful consideration when giving secondhand gifts. This includes whether or not the gift is in acceptable condition.

Dear Sara:

We are moving and I have a ton of baby items. Would it be best to have a rummage sale, post items on eBay and Craigslist or to just donate? I’d like to get back some of the money I spent on these items, but I’m not sure if it’s worth moving them to the new house to sell from there. — Cass, Wisconsin

Dear Cass:

I wouldn’t pack and move it. There is no charge for listing items on Craigslist. You could state in your posting that the buyer must take it all, and then you could price it reasonably (or group the items into smaller lots and request that the buyer take all of that particular lot). It would take considerable time to take photos, create listings and pack and ship the items through eBay (not to mention the listing fees). A rummage sale takes more effort than Craigslist, and you’d have to deal with haggling and possibly only selling part of it, then you’d have to decide what to do with the rest.
Moving already has enough stress of it’s own, so I’d opt for Craigslist or make a charitable donation (tax deductible) and get a receipt.

Dear Sara:

Any tips to remove tar from jeans? — Lisa, Michigan

Dear Lisa:

Apply ice and scrape off as much as possible. You can use your fingernail, a toothpick or a dull knife to scrape. Apply oil (such as olive, baby or vegetable oil), peanut butter, Goo Gone or WD-40 to the stained area with a cloth and blot, then scrub to lift away the sticky tar. Finally, launder as usual. A fellow reader, Shayne from Washington, suggests the following: “Use hand cleaner like the kind mechanics use to clean their hands. It removes practically anything you could get on your clothing. Just rub it in and wash.”

photo by chicagogeek

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