Thanks, But No

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I have a friend who keeps giving
me her hand-me- downs like she is doing me a big favor. I’m not sure
where she got the idea that I admired her taste, which I most certainly
do not, though I do politely tell her that I like whatever new purchase
she is modeling when we get together. This is, btw, a woman who
proudly tells me “I don’t like to shop” but who manages not to wear
the same thing twice in a season. For my birthday, she gave me, gift-
wrapped no less!!, a box of “gently worn” duds that she said I had
admired. I managed to swallow my horror and surprise and said
“Thanks but I’m in giving-away mode, so perhaps you should donate
these to a women’s charity.” I know she means well, but this feels
both awkward and inappropriate. Do you have a gentle way to forestall
what I fear is coming my way again in December?

Thanks, But No

Dear Thanks, But:

Asking if you want a no-longer- needed item is considerate. Gift-
wrapping it is rude and/or a very bad joke. Either way, unless it is
something you have truly coveted, the appropriate response is Thanks,
but No thanks. Women I know who are in acquisition and/or shedding
mode have made an annual clothing exchange party for people to
bring their out-grown, under-worn, and otherwise no-longer- wanted
attire. All the residual clothing, jewelry, and accessories are donated to
local women’s organizations that help people in transition who are
homeless or who might need professional attire they could not
otherwise afford.

If you suspect this person is planning to “gift” you again for Hanukah,
make it a non-event by telling her how you are culling your clothes
down to the essentials as part of a self-improvement program. You
could, in your nicest possible voice, say If you’re interested in
anything….., but only if you can keep a straight face.