Whenever my friend “Jane” and her husband come to dinner at our place, she immediately jumps up and starts putting dishes in the dishwasher and wants to “help” afterward. My kitchen is quite small and often a dish, a glass, or bowl is broken in her almost desperate attempt to help. I’ve quietly stated that I enjoy taking on the role of cook and butler because it is relaxing for me to cook and fuss in the kitchen. I don’t know how to clearly communicate that “help” is not required. Suggestions?
K.C. / Lowell
Give her something else to do, and tell your husband in advance to drag her off to do it. “Oh, I don’t need help, I’ll finish up here in a minute — Edward, you and Jane pick out a board game and set it up for us, will you?” If she escapes his clutches, be straightforward: “Jane, the kitchen is too small for two people and you’ve broken more than one dish. Please stop trying to help!” This may seem harsh but if Jane is so clueless that your less emphatically phrased refusals plus multiple broken items have not deterred her, I can guarantee that people often speak to her without pulling their punches. She is surely used to it and will not take offense.
My new bride and I have quite a few “props” from our recent wedding — lanterns, a doughnut board, table decorations, rainbow accessories — that we don’t need anymore. Is putting them up on Facebook Marketplace tacky or sensible? We don’t want our friends to feel obligated to buy!
R.S. / Worcester
Sensible, I say! Unless you get all wheedly and “don’t you want a part of our wedding to keep with you forever” about it, but you aren’t going to do that, are you? Straightforwardly offering such things for sale is a great idea, especially if you and your wife are in those peak marrying years when half your friends are planning their own nuptials. You know which engaged couples were eyeing that doughnut board — and you know you’d love to be a guest at another wedding that features one. For more options, keep reading . . .
A friend of mine was to be married but the groom backed out two weeks before. Major expenses for the reception cannot be refunded. But can you think of a way to donate the decorations, centerpieces, and other party items so they don’t go to waste and a little good feeling can come from this?
G.M. / Somerville
There are Buy Nothing Project groups on Facebook for most cities where people can give away unused or lightly used objects. That’s probably the easiest way to go about it, and the most certain to ensure that whoever takes the items genuinely wants and will use them.
You might also try calling local assisted-living/skilled-nursing facilities, schools, domestic violence or homeless shelters, and seeing if they could use them.
If she was planning a religious wedding, you might also ask the venue for ideas. (Don’t give the items to the actual church she was going to be married in, of course. How awkward to encounter one’s own wedding arrangement at Bible study!)
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.