We have a great group of friends. One of the couples in the group is moving away and another friend is having a farewell party for them. Are we supposed to take a gift, and if so, what?

 It is likely that some friends will take a farewell gift, but it’s best to ask the hostess what the protocol is for this occasion so that you aren’t the only ones without a gift, nor the only ones who take one! It may be that a group gift is in the works, in which case individual gifts would probably not be given. If they are, you don’t want to burden them with something bulky to have to pack and move, so if you have a photo of the group you could enlarge and frame it as a wonderful memory for them. If your town has a store that sells t-shirts or baseball hats with the name or the logo of the town on them, that could be another fun memory gift. You might also look up a website or the Chamber of Commerce for the town to which they are moving and get a gift certificate for a pizza restaurant or coffee shop or even a nursery or garden center if they are moving to a house and not an apartment and will have places to plant.

What do I do when I’m meeting others at a restaurant and arrive before they do? Do I wait outside, or go in and get seated?

The best thing to do is have a plan with the others – that you will all meet outside, or in the vestibule of the restaurant, if there is one, or that the first person there asks to be seated and everyone else finds that person when they arrive. If you don’t have a plan, then it makes sense to wait outside or in the vestibule since those arriving after you might not think to wander through the restaurant looking for you. If a member of the group has made a reservation and shared that information, then it makes sense to go ahead and be seated since others will mention that upon arrival and be directed to the table.

There were a few years during which I was quite fond of all things related to pigs, such as decorative items, pajamas with pigs on them, and so on. I’m over it, but my friends and relatives continue to give me presents involving pigs. How do I say “stop!!!” without sounding ungrateful?

 You can say, when speaking to them, “you’ll be happy to know that I’m over my pig mania, but I’ll always love the great pig presents you’ve given me. It was fun while it lasted!” and then change the subject to something about them. If that seems too difficult, then tell the person you feel closest to and ask him or her to share the message with others, in a tactful way.

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