If the invitation gives no guidance, what would be an appropriate gift for a 100th birthday party?

Don’t let the age of the birthday celebrant affect your creativity. Instead, think about his or her lifestyle; considering whether he or she lives independently, or with family, or in a care facility can help you determine what would be a great gift. Put together a list of ideas and then check with the family as to which would be the best. Just asking them what would the birthday person might like puts them on the spot – asking about specifics is the most helpful. An independent person might appreciate the delivery of a gourmet meal, or a work-saving appliance, or a new bed pillow. Someone living with family who has always loved to read might be happy to have audible books or books on CD if there is a device for listening available. Someone in a care facility might appreciate a new throw blanket, pair of slippers or a framed photo of friends or family members. If your best idea is a budget-breaker, see if another invited guest would like to share in giving that gift.

My boss communicates almost exclusively by email. When he sends a notice or a request for information, he often sends copies to numerous people. A lot of them “reply all” when they answer, when he hasn’t asked for a group discussion. I just reply to him. Are the others right and am I wrong?

No, the expectation is not that you reply to everyone when you get a group email, unless your message is to everyone on the cc: list or your boss specifically asks you to reply to everyone. When you are responding to your boss, you send your response only to him. If he gets 30 responses because he sent his email to 30 people, that’s fine, but none of the rest of you need to have your inboxes clogged with 29 replies that you don’t need to see. Do your best to ignore the unnecessary replies – it’s likely not in your best interest to suggest to your co-workers that they cease and desist unless they ask or question you about where your reply is.

My fiancé and I are planning a pretty small wedding for both personal preference and budget reasons. My co-workers know that a wedding is in the works and several have said that they can’t wait to see us get married. We cannot invite them, but I don’t know what to say. How do I handle this?

You handle this with tact and truth. When a co-worker, not on your guest list, asks you about your wedding, take the opportunity to say, “John and I are having a really small wedding. We both have big families, and a few family friends and mutual friends who will be there, but we unfortunately can’t invite all our friends. I hope I’ll have some pictures I can show you afterward!”

Questions for Catherine? Send them to Catherine.michaels33@gmail.com