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Q. One of my colleagues is a huge flirt. It's harmless (we're both happily married), but how can I tell him to stop without making it awkward?
A. Just be gentle and good-humored about it: "Dave, can you dial back the love a bit? I know you don't mean anything, but people are getting the wrong idea." If he argues, be a little more blunt: "Seriously, I feel uncomfortable with some of the things you say." This kind of banter is often a two-way street, so make sure you're not sending mixed messages. Don't say: "Even if you are the best-looking guy in the building, you can't sit on my desk." Do say: "Dave, please sit in the chair." He may be a little wounded at first, but if you set a good example he'll catch on.
Q. My sister is bringing her family of five for Thanksgiving, my daughter invited her roommate, and my husband asked three coworkers. I'm overwhelmed. Can I say no?
A. I wouldn't, especially if the roommate and colleagues were already invited. You could try being candid with your sister, though: Confide to her that -- what with the other surprise guests -- this may not be the year to come. The true spirit of Turkey Day would suggest, however, that you put out the welcome mat and plan to feed nine more people than usual. If you normally have a formal dinner, don't worry about everything being perfect. Embrace the joys of prepared foods and disposable silverware. Ask your visitors to bring side dishes or desserts, and let them help in the kitchen. Who knows? You might just start a new tradition!
Q. I paid a lot of travel expenses to go to my niece's out-of-town wedding and couldn't afford a gift at the time. Is it too late to buy her a present?
A. It's never too late for gifts! Really, although most guests give in advance or on the big day, it's an accepted rule that you can send a wedding present for up to a year. And surely your niece and her new husband will appreciate your thoughtfulness. If they've registered at a store or online vendor, their registry is likely to remain open for two years or longer. Getting that missing eighth place setting or the rest of the wineglasses will make your belated gift a very welcome one. To combat any potential embarrassment, include a note: "I didn't forget! Hope you still need this and that your first months of marriage have been as lovely as your wedding."
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, November 2010.
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