It’s always cold at my friend’s house. Do I have to let them hang up my coat or sweater?

Q. I have been invited to a neighbor’s house for a birthday party for their son who is going to be 5 years old. Two questions:

1) They do not want me to bring a gift because I babysit him a lot and they just want me to be there for his party. I think I should take a gift, and besides that, I want to take a gift. So is it okay to take a gift?

2) Their house is always freezing cold, so I am going to wear a coat and if I don’t wear a sweater, I am going to take a long cardigan sweater. So is it inappropriate if I keep the sweater with me in case I need it or do I have to let them hang it up? I just don’t want to have to ask for it if I get cold ‘cause they will make a big fuss about it.

A. How nice to be included in the birthday party.

1) Yes, by all means, if you want to take a birthday gift, then do so. If they have told all the invited guests not to bring a gift and you are the only one with a gift, you can politely say that you wanted to bring a gift because you have gotten so fond of him babysitting him.

2) Yes, keep the sweater with you and you do not need to make an excuse. When asked: “May I take your sweater?”, just say. “No thank you; I will keep it with me.”

Q. Our family decided at our family reunion this summer that we were not going to exchange Christmas Gifts, but at Thanksgiving, one of my nieces said she wanted to change it back to drawing names because “it doesn’t seem like Christmas if we don’t exchange gifts, so, I drew out one of my nephew’s names and he is 18 and all about sports. My plan is to get him a ticket to a Blue’s Hockey game but he has a girlfriend, so do I need to get two tickets?

A. What a great Christmas gift! If you can afford two tickets, it would be very nice to do so. Rather than assuming he will take his girlfriend, I would let him decide who he will take.

Q. If the hostess of a party asks everyone to bring “their own favorite wine” and you bring two bottles, but only one is opened, do you ask to take the unopened one home with you?

A. No, allow the hostess to keep it.

Q. If you are invited to someone’s home for Thanksgiving dinner and you get there and are told they are going out for dinner instead and ask you to get in their car to go to the restaurant, should you pay for your own meal?

A. Unusual circumstances. It would have been nice if they told you about the change in plans before you arrived. Nonetheless, you should offer to pay for your own meal, but hopefully you will not have to do so.

Q. I took a lovely bouquet of flowers for my niece who invited me for Thanksgiving dinner. When I got ready to leave, she handed them to me and said I should take them because they were going out of town the next day for a week. I really felt sort of stupid taking them, but what choice did I have? Should I have some flowers delivered to her house after she returns home in a week?

A. As they say, it is the thought that counts. No, you did not have a choice except to graciously accept the flowers and enjoy them. No, you do not need to send her another bouquet when she returns.