A friend has just lost his job, after 24 years with his company. He’s canceled his newspaper subscription and his television package, even though he’s a movie buff and loves his movie channels, and is making other economies until he can get another job. He and his wife have children a little younger than ours. We’d love to support him somehow, but don’t want to make it seem like charity. Any suggestions?

Think about what would mean the most to you, were the situation reversed. If you get the newspaper and read it quickly, drop your copy off with him. Invite him and his family to dinner periodically, and send them home with an extra portion for another night. Look for a schedule of movies on television and invite him (or them) for a movie and popcorn when there’s something coming up you know they’d love to see. If your children have outgrown clothes in great condition, put them in a bag and drop them off, saying you hope his kids can get some wear out of them because they’ve gotten too small for your kids. If he’s a sports fan, and if you can, treat him to a local game or hockey match. And help him network in his job search. If you have a great contact in his field, make a match. None of those things is charity and all of them are supportive and helpful.

I’m organizing my holiday card list and want to know if I can use labels on the envelopes?

Yes, you may use labels or hand-write the envelopes – whichever you prefer. The one occasion for which you do not use labels is for wedding invitations and wedding-related events, and generally, for thank-you notes of any kind, when, in each case, handwritten envelopes are expected.

My son will be married in the early spring and my husband and I will host the rehearsal dinner. Can you please let me know exactly who is invited? My son’s fianceé’s mother is insisting that all of the out-of-town guests be included, and that’s way beyond my budget!

The rehearsal dinner guest list most typically is comprised of the parents and grandparents of the bride and groom, the bride’s and groom’s siblings plus spouses or significant others, members of the wedding party plus spouses or significant others, and the wedding officiant and his or her spouse. The intention is that this is a warm, more intimate event before the hubbub of the wedding takes place, not that it is a replica of the wedding reception. Out-of-town guests and aunts and uncles and cousins find their own entertainment, and usually are happy to do so, unless the bride’s mother has arranged an event for them, such as a cocktail party, at the home of one of her friends, that they may like to attend. Talk to your son about your plans before you kindly tell his future mother-in-law about your guest list.

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