(AP) – Your cousin gave you a sentimental figurine last year that doesn’t blend with your collection of Imari porcelain. It’s still in its box, so maybe you can just rewrap it and present it to a co-worker this season.

Then you reconsider. After all, your sister-in-law once gave you a chiffon scarf which smelled of her cologne and carried a few telltale wisps of her hair. You resented that second-hand gift.

So, is regifting, as it’s called, unethical? Not necessarily, says Dan Wueste, director of the Rutland Center for Ethics at Clemson University., but it might be unseemly to give someone a gift you didn’t like, knowing the recipient probably won’t like it either. “It’s somewhat like putting your trash in someone else’s yard,” he said.

There also are the ramifications about your obligation to the giver. Wueste says you ought to ask yourself what you owe to the person giving the gift; the answer could be different for each individual.

He cites the possibility an aunt has sent you a handmade lime green sweater – something you’d never wear. If you decide to give it away, what do you say if the aunt asks how you like it? You have two options, Wueste says. You can be honest and tell her you didn’t like it and gave it to a neighbor to line a doggy bed, or you can tell a little white lie about how you’re allergic to lime green dye.

While lying is essentially wrong, Wueste says it may not be so simple. “It forces us to judge competing values. We don’t want to lie, but we also want to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.” So in the end, it’s more an issue of etiquette than ethics, he said.


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