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Hints From Heloise: Son invites his family and friends to parents’ house

Today’s Sound Off: Uninvited guests.

Dear Heloise: Three years ago we bought a nice home on a lake so we could retire and relax. Unfortunately, everyone we know thinks they are welcome to drop in uninvited. They bring their kids, use our towels and generally make themselves at home. No one ever seems to volunteer to help clean up, take out the trash or do anything.

This past Christmas I sent out a Christmas letter explaining that while we love having company, we would prefer that everyone wait until they are invited and that we could no longer entertain uninvited guests due to my husband’s need for rest after his open-heart surgery.

This past weekend, my stepson and his family showed up, uninvited, with their three children and an assortment of friends. He said he was insulted by my letter, but he and his wife decided to “forgive” us and come anyway. I threw everyone out!

How do I keep people from just inviting themselves without making them enemies?

— Joyce K., Petoskey, Mich.

Joyce K.: You took the first step by writing to people to let them know that they needed to be invited rather than just dropping in. Our homes should be our sanctuary, and no one has the right to abuse your privacy or disrespect your husband’s need for peace and quiet. When people show up unannounced and uninvited, remind them of the Christmas letter and do not invite them inside. Most people will understand, and those who don’t were never really friends anyway.

Ideas for an old birdbath:

● Use as a planter with colorful flowers.

● Paint it and place birdseed inside the bowl.

● Cover in broken pottery as a mosaic.

● Place a large reflective ball in the middle, and use as a garden ornament.

Dear Heloise: I worked many years at a wholesale florist business where many florists would buy their flowers.

Please tell your readers when buying roses at a big box store or grocery chain to gently squeeze the bottom of the rose. If it's soft, the flowers are old and won't last long. A little give is okay, but it should be mostly firm.

I have complained to store managers about selling old roses at full price, but they don't seem to care.

— Carol, Powell, Wyo.

Carol: Thank you for that valuable hint. This was a new one for me, and I’ll be only too happy to pass it along.

Dear Heloise: My husband says we don't need a will because we have one child, a son, who will inherit everything we have someday. I still think we need a will, and I want to leave some pieces of jewelry to various family members and friends. What should we do?

— Tricia B., Branson, Mo.

Tricia B.: You both need to have not only a will, but a living will as well. An attorney can explain all this to you, but I urge you to consult with your lawyer to make things easier for your son when the time comes.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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