color-etiquette-10-27-16I’m going to be accompanying not only my children but also the children of two friends who have to work on Halloween on the trick-or-treating hike through the neighborhood. Is it okay to give them some ground rules, since four of them aren’t my children, and if so, what would you recommend?

Yes, it’s fine to have guidelines for all the children in your care, and they are fairly simple. Don’t ring the doorbell or knock more than once; say “Trick or treat!” when the door is opened; say “Thank you” even if what you are given is not a great treat; only take one item if a bowl full of treats is held out; and walk the walk – stay off the grass and landscaping and on the sidewalk.

I’m done with Halloween. I’ve done decades of payback for all the people who were kind to my children when they were young, and years of pay-it-forward for those who will be kind to my children’s children in the future. Plus, over the past couple of years, there are fewer children in my neighborhood and the trick-or-treaters are hordes of children all at once, driven to my neighborhood in cars from other neighborhoods. I don’t know any of them. Is it wrong to just not answer the door?

No, it’s not wrong, nor is it curmudgeonly of you, after years of helping make the holiday fun for a generation or two of children. To let it be known that you aren’t participating, do not make it look as though you are by leaving lights on or featuring Halloween decorations. Most children and their parents know that if a house is dark there are no treats to be had, and they move on.

It’s that time of year when daycare centers and schools hold their fundraisers and expect children to hawk a variety of goods. They even have a “suggested” quota. In my office, their parents do the selling and it’s becoming overwhelming. How do I say, “no thanks” without giving offense?

You say, “Oh, thank you, that looks great but I’m already supporting my niece and nephew (or my own kids, or my grandchildren, etc.) in their school fundraisers and have reached my limit,” or if you have no young relatives and this is known, just say, “I’m so sorry, but I have no need of a coupon book (pizza making kit, gallon of cookie dough, set of children’s books, etc.) so can’t help you out with this. But thanks for thinking of me.” It would be a churlish person who would become angry or resentful at a polite “no thanks.”

How do I get rid of a door-to-door salesperson who won’t take no for an answer?

You firmly say, “No thanks” for the last time and then say, “Please leave. As I said, I am not at all interested.” You can say it with a smile, but say it firmly, and shut the door.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to [email protected]