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Miss Manners: Gift of DNA swab kits is relatively unwelcome

Dear Miss Manners: A family member recently arranged to have two DNA swab kits sent directly to my husband and me from a well-known scientific organization. The organization apparently is in the process of conducting a worldwide hereditary study.

We have no association with this organization and have never mentioned any interest in this study to the family member. From online research I did, the kits are quite pricey and also help provide revenue to the organization.

We have no intention of sending our DNA to this organization. These kits came out of the blue, as we haven’t exchanged gifts with this person in over 20 years and really have very little contact – maybe a note or call every few years.

How do we respond to the gift? Do we simply send a note saying we received the packages and thank you for thinking of us and then throw them away?

I would never re-gift this item, nor donate it to a charity for resale, such as one might do with a sweater or fruit bowl. Do we return the gift to the sender with a thank-you note, but point out that we will not use the kits and perhaps someone else she knows would value them? Do we return them to the scientific organization so the charged account can be credited?

Gentle Reader: Just don’t leave any fingerprints or stray hairs on that kit when you donate it back to the organization.

And ask for its discretion in not refunding the giver’s account. Send your family member a note thanking her and leave it at that.

Miss Manners has to admit that she would relish knowing what this person hoped to find out, but respectfully defers to your lack of interest.

Borrowed egg dilemma

Dear Miss Manners: I asked a neighbor/friend if I could “borrow” an egg. He was happy to oblige. I asked if he liked banana muffins, and he said that he did.

I just got back from delivering him a couple of banana muffins, fresh from the oven. Do I still owe him an egg?

Gentle Reader: Yes, because the egg was compromised. It was not returned in its original condition, having first been beaten and then baked. Miss Manners trusts that should you borrow a lawnmower, you won’t return it in a similar state.

What you owe him now is the same sort of neighborliness when he is in need.

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s daughter, Jacobina Martin. Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; or to her email,