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    Dear Margo

    Dear Margo column

    Q. I have a good friend who, whenever there’s an occasion for a gift (my birthday, Christmas, etc), buys something that either doesn’t fit or is not to my taste. Ordinarily this would not be a problem, but she always buys these gifts on sale — so there is no returning them for either the right size or credit.

    I know they say it’s the thought that counts, but this is starting to annoy me. I know you can’t tell a friend, “Look, none of your gifts work out, and it would be nice if you’d stop buying everything on sale.” I should add that there’s no attempt to disguise these presents, because she either tells me there was a sale on at (fill in the name of store) or the present has no tags — and sometimes no wrapping.

    Is there a subtle way to make it known that I would appreciate a gift certificate or at least something that could be exchanged so I can use it? I would rather die than seem ungrateful.



    A. You are quite right that you can’t tell a friend (or anyone) that their habit of buying presents on sale is always a big fail. This person is obviously, let us say, a value shopper, and you can’t change that. As close as you could get, without making a mess, would be to say she is so great about remembering occasions that it might make her life simpler if she just got you a gift certificate. The problem with this, though, and especially for a value shopper, is that the price would be right there, front and center.

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    Since you can’t change her habits, I suggest you work on taking the edge off of your annoyance by accepting that this is who your friend is. You cannot change her instinct to be thrifty , so go back to understanding that “it’s the thought that counts,” and just accept that only a random act of the cosmos might make a gift from her either fit or be to your liking.

    Q. My son is getting married soon. The invitations have been mailed, and RSVPs are coming in. My son and his fiancee are on a tight budget for their reception. The wedding invitations have on the inside envelope the names of the people who are actually invited to attend the wedding and reception. No children, regardless of age, have been invited.

    Every day, my son calls to tell me that people have added their children’s names on the RSVP card that has been mailed to them. My nephew posted a message on my Facebook page asking whether he needs to get a babysitter for his son (age 6) or will we provide a babysitter at the reception? I have told my son that when they get an RSVP with extra names on it, they need to call the person and tell them it’s nothing personal but only two people per family — and no children — have been invited. Don’t people hire babysitters anymore?


    A. Good grief. You are entirely, indisputably correct about your interpretation of a wedding invitation. My own thinking is that unless a wedding is an informal one, perhaps in the backyard, children shouldn’t be present unless the bridal couple wants them.


    The respondents who have added the names of their children need to be set straight. If you want to relieve your son and his intended of the onerous job of informing the clods that the affair is adults only, you could offer to be in touch with the people who don’t know any better and tell them there will be no babysitters because there will be no children. Reiterate that the wedding and reception are only for couples (or plus-ones, if they are single), and if it’s impossible to get a sitter, they will be sorely missed.

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