We have just bought a jet ski that our teen son will use more than we will. Are there etiquette guidelines for using it that we all should know?

Yes, there definitely are a few guidelines. First, boats always have the right of way, so when you are approaching an oncoming boat of any sort, stay to the right. If you are about to cross paths with another jet ski or a boat, the craft on the right has the right of way.  Collisions are the most common type of jet ski accident, so be alert to other water traffic, and always obey the speed limit. Speed limits are set by localities, but if they are not posted, it is still your obligation to know what they are. Going too fast is one of the causes of accidents and collisions. Naturally, be alert to swimmers, as well as boaters, and take care of the environment – don’t spill fuel, oil, drop litter, or leave other pollutants where they don’t belong, and don’t drive too close to wildlife or aquatic vegetation. With all that in mind, enjoy the ride!

My brothers and I (and our spouses) are planning a 50th anniversary party for our parents. How do we word the invitation?  We don’t really want to list all of our names as hosts (it’s a lot of names!). I’ve seen “The Children of. . . invite you, etc.,” but we are hardly children. Is there another word we can use?

Sure. Use “The Family of. . .” It’s inclusive and gets the message across.

My fiancé and I have received some wedding gifts. Our wedding is in a month. May we use them or do we have to wait until after we are married? His mother says it’s improper to use them now.

You may use them immediately. At some point in the past, the “wisdom” of waiting was to make sure a couple really did get married, so in case they didn’t, they could return the gifts to the givers. Today we like to be more hopeful that all is well and it is fine for the couple to enjoy their gifts as they arrive. Be sure to write your thank-you notes as you receive gifts, both so those who sent them know you have received them, and to keep writing them from becoming a tremendous burden for you and your fiancé as you get closer to your wedding date.

The last two times we have gone to the beach we have been bombarded with the loud music from somebody else. Is it fine to turn up the volume at the beach because it’s an outdoor space?

No, It’s intrusive. Your beach blanket neighbor may have picked some really great beach tunes, but unless everyone around him has hired him as the beach D.J., he should use headphones and let the gentle sound of crashing waves be the primary sound heard by others.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to michaels.catherine@yahoo.com