Three families, all good friends, are sharing a vacation house rental for a week this month. I’m worried about how we make it fair for everyone and avoid any problems. We’re each paying one-third of the rental cost, but what do we do about everything else so no bad feelings erupt?

Plan ahead. Iron out all the details now. Talk about food, beverages, how you split costs, who cooks, who cleans up. Agree in advance that you all don’t have to do everything as a group. If you want to go to the beach and the others want to go sight-seeing, no hard feelings or arguments. Set an amount for an initial chip-in for grocery shopping and leave time to settle up before you leave. Decide whose room is whose before you get there so there are no squabbles. If you try to think of every eventuality ahead of time, your week should be carefree.

A neighbor lost her job. She hasn’t said anything, but I know times are tough. Her daughter is a couple of years younger than my daughter, who has outgrown some very nice items of clothing. I’d like to pass them along to my neighbor, but don’t want it to look like charity, which I know it would, to her. In the past, I’ve given them to my niece, but she’s gone through a growth spurt and is almost the same size as my daughter, so can’t use them. How do give them to my neighbor without wounding her pride?

How thoughtful of you, on all counts. Tell her that you used to pass along your daughter’s outgrown clothes to your niece, why that doesn’t work any more, and add that you would hate to throw them out, or even give them to a resale shop, when someone you know might like to have them. Add that you don’t want them back, so if she can’t use them to feel free to pass them along to someone else.

My husband has a good friend who stops by often. He’s very nice, but he carries a gun. I don’t want guns anywhere near my children, or in my house. My husband doesn’t want to offend him by saying anything. I don’t see not wanting guns around as offensive. How do I politely ask his friend to leave it home when he’s coming over?

This isn’t really a question of manners, it’s a question about your belief system and your feelings about feeling safe in your own home. The simple answer is, it’s your home, you make the rules. Since your husband is reluctant to deal with this, it’s up to you to tell his friend how you feel and that he is welcome any time, but without his firearm. Hopefully he will be respectful of your request, but if he won’t leave home without it, then your husband will have to visit him instead, or meet him anywhere but at your house.

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