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Ask Anyone

musical chairs

We’re planning for a big Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year—30 people, maybe more, with siblings and spouses and kids. We can manage the food and drink all right, and we’ll have four tables set up. My problem is that’s a lot of people to make conversation with. And the thing is, I only really want to catch up with my siblings, whom I seldom see. It’s not that I dislike their spouses (at least not all of them), but they’re not family in quite the same way. Is it okay to seat all the in-laws at a separate table and reserve another table for my siblings and me?

Seating Situation

The Omniscient One says: No, it’s not okay to ghettoize your in-laws. What’s the matter with you?

I also don’t know why you’re posing a question to a weekly newspaper about your Thanksgiving day dinner when it’s only about 24 hours away. If you haven’t figured out what do by now, you’re in for a lot of stress tomorrow. Drink plenty of wine!

The Gay Perspective: Can’t people just sit where they want? With so many people, this sounds like a buffet-style gathering anyway. And judging from they way you talk about them, I doubt that many of these people are aching to catch up with you either. (I mean that in a supportive, caring way, incidentally.)

Strictly Classified says: Your guests should be seated with their spouses, partners, and boy/girlfriends. Consider how you would feel if the shoe were on the other foot—and feel free to mingle freely with all of your guests.

The Shutterbug says: You are over-thinking this a bit. Tables are tables, and unless yours is going to have a chocolate fountain, no one will notice the difference. They will all be too busy stuffing their faces with stuffing.

It’s your dinner and your house; arrange the seating to your heart’s content!

Smart Money says: I can’t believe your siblings have such bad taste in spouses. I adore my in-laws. Well, my mother-in-law is pretty scary. Suck it up. You might find those spouses have a lot to offer.


if we took a holiday

I don’t believe in giving money as gift; I think it’s too impersonal. I also don’t like buying people the junk they think they need—there’s so much overconsumption in this society, and it’s killing the planet. So how about some suggestions? Or am I just being a crank?

Reluctant Santa

The Back Room Guy says: A donation to the Human Fund might be in order. Seriously though, making a donation in someone’s name is a good choice, especially if it is to something timely and worthy like a Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund (http://sandyrelief.org/). If you actually want to give someone a physical object that is not impersonal but you don’t want to buy any more crap, try picking something out from your house, like an antique lamp or a family heirloom, and pass it on.

The Omniscient One says: What’s missing in you “giving” question is your budget. If you’ve got a lot of dough, give a trip to Europe or somewhere. If you’re talking about a couple of bucks, then go with the arts—music, a dance performance, theater tickets, etc.

The Shutterbug says: Do-it-yourself, silly! With websites like Pinterest and DIY blogs, you are sure to find an idea that is gift-worthy, cost-effective, and functional! Perhaps a collaged box (use modge podge to cover a wooden or cardboard box with photos or magazine clippings) or a custom-made drink mix (hot cocoa, coffee, bloody mary, the possibilities are endless).

Smart Money says: Then don’t buy anything. Let the masses know you are above the tawdry trappings of the holidays. Go out and do something instead. Good luck explaining this to the kids.

The Gay Perspective: Such complications! You don’t have to get me anything. A gift is a token of affection, not some sort of judgment. Why don’t you give a gift that will remind the recipient of you?

Ask Anyone is local advice for locals with problems. Send your questions for our panel of experts to advice@artvoice.com.

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