DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who continually brings a potted flower whenever she comes to visit. Although I very much welcome her visits, I have a difficult time caring for plants and I end up struggling to keep them alive -- a struggle that I would like to avoid.
The truth of the matter is that a gift of any type is unnecessary. Is there a courteous way of telling my friend, without hurting her feelings, that I do not want plants, and that anything else -- or nothing at all -- would be perfectly fine?
GENTLE READER: Show her your dead plant. "I am afraid that I am hopeless when it comes to taking care of these. I wouldn't want our visits to be marred by blood on our mutual hands."
If this inadvertently results in getting a lesson in plant care, well, you can thank Miss Manners for that later.