Should we take a gift to a retirement party?

This depends on what kind of party it is. At a company-sponsored party, the employer presents the gift and individual gifts are not given. If you are close to the retiree, you certainly may give him or her a gift, but would give it at a different time. At a party given by colleagues or other friends, either the organizer asks for a contribution for a gift from the group, or individual gifts are given.

I'm about to interview candidates for several new staff positions for my company. Assuming that there are more applicants than jobs, how do I tell those I'm not hiring that they aren't being offered the job?

It is very thoughtful that you plan to notify unsuccessful candidates — in the past several years, companies have stopped this practice and it is actually quite rude not to provide follow-up and closure and leaves the applicants uncertain about the status of their applications. You can send a note, post card or email that thanks them for their interest and lets them know that you have hired someone else for the job. You don’t need to go into further detail, and shouldn't, for legal reasons. Close by wishing them success in their job search.

Last Halloween a lot of older teens were trick-or-treating. I think they were too old for this. Is it okay not to give them treats so there's enough for the younger children?

Well, there really is not an official cut-off age for Halloween. Generally, candy seekers stop trick-or-treating by age 14, but if older children are at your door in costume, think of it this way: they just want to celebrate the spirit of the holiday and there's nothing wrong with your being a good sport and honoring their enthusiasm. Since small children are out early and older ones arrive later, your supply should be fine for the little ones. If you run out of treats as it gets later, just turn off your lights as a sign that there are no more treats to be had at your house.

My daughter wants her bridesmaids to wear black. I thought no one wore black to a wedding because it appears funereal, especially not members of the wedding party. Am I right?

For decades, “no black worn at a wedding” was definitely the rule. However, this has changed over the years, and you’ll find that sometimes more than half the female guests at a wedding wear black, and that many brides choose black for their attendants, liking the look, and feeling that their attendants could wear the dresses again, making them more useful than pastels might be. You will see black attire most often at late afternoon and evening weddings and rarely at morning or early afternoon weddings, so time of day is more the guideline in the case of your daughter's wedding.

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