Dear Annie: Every year, my husband and I have immediate family and some friends over for Halloween. We make food, have beverages and take turns giving out candy. A niece of ours and her family always show up uninvited, even when we said one year we just wanted our kids and grandkids. They stay the whole time and never bring anything. They also have horrible personal hygiene, and our niece is especially outspoken and obnoxious. How do I tell her in a civil way they are not welcome? -- Not-a-Fan Auntie
Dear Not-a-Fan Auntie: Time for these ghouls to go haunt somewhere else. Tell them in terms that are polite but leave no room for ambiguity: "This is important quality time with the grandkids, and we're going to keep it to just us and the kids next year."
Dear Annie: My wife and I enjoy getting together with another couple we met a few years ago, usually dinner and drinks at a local restaurant. After some small talk and ordering drinks, the husband finds a way to tell a new joke. It's usually funny, and we all laugh. The problem is tht by the time we're all ready to go home, he will have told about 10 jokes. Again, they are usually funny, but at the same time, by the end of the evening, we feel as if we've been to a comedy club to watch a stand-up comedian's show. What can we say or do to get him to limit his act without upsetting him? -- Too Many Jokes in Venice, Fla.
Dear Too Many Jokes: Usually, clowns and comedians are on a mission to make people laugh and enjoy life -- and appreciate their wit and talent. As a result, they may not be aware of how many jokes they are telling or when to stop. You could either prep yourself for a comedy show when you go to dinner with them (you did mention that the jokes are funny) or try to steer the conversation into a topic that you would like to talk about over dinner and drinks. If absolutely necessary, you could tell him that though he's very funny, you would like him to limit his jokes so you can have a conversation.