Q: My girlfriend and I have wonderful friends who like to cook for us when we visit them. We take them out for dinner to reciprocate, but I don't always feel that is enough. What is the proper etiquette to show our appreciation?
A: No money, yikes. Dinner out is an appropriate way to reciprocate, but, more important, these are "wonderful friends." That means the best way to reciprocate isn't to bean count, but instead to be a wonderful friend right back at them. There's no one-size-fits-all way to be wonderful. You just have to pay attention to what they value, see whether you have any of that to spare, then provide it without strings attached.
Put an end to impolite questions with a very pointed answer
Q: My husband and I have a 2-year-old daughter. Ever since she was about 18 months, I keep getting asked when we will have another child. Family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers ask me. I've had relatives call me to ask. Now I normally wouldn't let this get to me, but we actually have been trying to conceive for a year, and we've been heartbreakingly unsuccessful so far. How can I put an end to people's questions without being rude?
Trying to Wait Patiently
A: "Oh, my, what a loaded question." It is, and it shouldn't be asked or answered, and this is a way of making both of those points that is as polite as you need to be. If they push: "Meaning, it's not a question I'm comfortable answering. Excuse me. …" Leave.