Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Dec. 14 2009 3:28 PM

Winter Woes

Prudie gives advice for all kinds of holiday dilemmas and family crises.

(Continued from Page 1)

I have told him I have hostess fatigue and I am sick of doing all of the post-party washing-up, so he's coming over later today to finish up the dishes.

But beyond that, what am I supposed to do? I enjoy entertaining, and I don't mind dishes, so much as I mind the way he bails on his promises and thinks it's OK for me to pick up after him.

Emily Yoffe: The key here is something you said late in the letter, "I don't mind dishes." Some people hate it (I'm guessing your boyfriend is one), but I'm one of those people—maybe like you—who enjoys the relaxation of the post-party clean up more than the tension of the pre-party prep. So instead of trying to force him to do a duty he hates, take advantage of the fact that he's great on the prep and hosting duties. Tell him instead of fighting over this, you will tackle the clean up alone, but that means you'd like him to pitch in more with the cooking or making the canapés. Splitting the work doesn't mean each task has to be split 50-50, just that each person feels the split is equitable.

_______________________

Tipping: They get paid for their work. I don't get a tip for doing my job. And the paper receivers shouldn't have to tip—that was just plain tacky!

Emily Yoffe: Hey, Scrooge, Merry Christmas!

Some people get tipped for their work, some don't. Newspaper carriers should.

_______________________

Pregnancy and holidays: I just found out I'm pregnant (yay!!!!). My husband and I have been trying for a while and it finally happened (he wants three kids). I actually just found out today so my husband doesn't know yet. I'd LOVE to keep this a surprise until Christmas and give him a bootie/bib but I'm not sure if this is the best thing to do since we'll be with his family.

I know I can keep the secret until Christmas since I won't see him this week (he's on travel at work). Normally we don't exchange gifts, I also wanted to do something similar for both sets of parents to announce it.  Is this tacky to do for Christmas and keep the secret from my husband for 2 weeks?

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Emily Yoffe: If you're getting your husband the set of golf clubs he always wanted, sure keep that a surprise. Your child is not a Christmas gift, so don't get all cutesy. Tell the man now that he's going to be a father. If you want to announce your wonderful news at Christmas to the rest of the family, that should make it a memorable holiday. Congratulations.

_______________________

Re: Tipping: I don't know, I'm with the "shouldn't be expected to tip" people. The economy's terrible—we don't have any extra money at our us, that's for sure. My husband's been out of work for three months. So why should we tip someone who is lucky enough to still have a job?

Emily Yoffe: I tip the carrier generously because I'm in the business, my husband was, and it's an expense we expect each year. Of course, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it! However, if you still eat out occasionally, you know you're going to tip even if the waitress has a job, and you don't. If you can, you could put $5 in the envelope, thank the carrier for the great service, and say things are tough and you wish it could be more.

_______________________

Holiday Harassment-phobe: I'm one of 8 young women at a male-owned and operated firm. The bosses have already started joking about playing Santa and having us sit on their lap at next week's Christmas lunch. The joking meant to be good-natured but is still a bit creepy. Any suggestions of good one-liners or come-backs to use if/when the holiday cheer gets a little too friendly?

Emily Yoffe: I like the line from Tootsie in which the Dustin Hoffman/Tootsie character suggest a boss like that get a close encounter with a cattle prod. You women should decide to present a united front and the next time the comment is made to any of you just say, "I'm sorry, that makes me really uncomfortable." If it continues, a couple of you need to sit down privately with the boss and say you know this is all meant in good fun, but sitting in Santa's lap is should be reserved for kids at the department store, and that the discussion of it in the office is putting a pall over your holiday spirit.

_______________________

Cinderelly Follow-Up: I don't necessarily ENJOY post-party cleanup, dishes are smelly and crusty and gross. It's that I'd rather just get it done and not have dishes pile up for days. I also do most of the cooking and shopping and organizing.

What makes me extra-crazy is that he'll continually invite friends to hang out at my place, I'll say I'm burned out. So he says he'll do all the washing-up to get me to agree to host, and it JUST WON'T GET DONE. I am not a caterer, my apartment is not a restaurant, and I feel like "the help."

Emily Yoffe: Then stop. His apartment may be more "inconveniently located" as you previously said, but it's a lot more conveniently located for your purposes. Say you will hostess when you feel like it. If he wants his friends to hang out, they'll have to do it at his place.

_______________________

Pet Owner: Ok, I know I am going to come off as cold...but I am not. I have dealt with the death of two dogs this past year and have newly adopted two others.

The lab from the earlier post is dying and probably in pain. Do the dog a favor and put it to sleep prior to your trip. That way, you don't have to change your plans or kennel the dog or make a sick animal endure a long trip.

Spend the time with your family over the holidays and while there search the rescue websites in your area for another dog that needs a new home and a (clearly) loving home!

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