DEAR HARRIETTE: I just lost a lot of weight and want to get rid of clothes that don't fit anymore. I have a friend who is about the size I used to be. I have a lot of great suits and dresses and different things that she may like. I am just unsure of how to bring it up to her so that I don't offend her. Sometimes people get weird around weight loss. Do you think I should offer the clothes to her? -- Giving Spirit, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR GIVING SPIRIT: It is fine for you to contact your friend about giving her clothing. What you should not do is emphasize your weight loss. Tell her that you have identified a number of clothing items that you want to give away and that you thought she might want them. If she is interested, arrange a time to show or share them with her. By leaving your weight out of it, you make it easier for her to be comfortable.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Regarding Shoe Freak's letter about being required to remove her shoes upon entering a friend's home for a party, I don't understand how anyone thinks requiring one to remove their shoes is "cleaner" than wearing shoes that have been wiped on a doormat. The thought of other people's bare feet embedding sweat and body oils (or worse, fungus) in my carpet makes me crazy.
If one is concerned about tracking in dirt from the outside, there are plenty of good mats that can be used to wipe off shoes. Or, at the very least, fussy hosts can provide clean socks for their guests (not slippers, unless they're new and unused -- and who has that many for a houseful of guests?). But bare feet -- never in my house! -- Grammar Nut, Salt Lake City
DEAR GRAMMAR NUT: Thank you for your candid comments. I like the idea of clean socks as an option for hosts who don't want shoes worn in their homes. That is a surefire hygienic choice.
While you have a good argument about germs on feet, do know that in many countries worldwide, it is customary for people to remove their shoes before entering homes. This is done partly for sanitary reasons, partly for sacred reasons. When larger groups are expected, I concur that a creative solution is wise for guests with diverse opinions on the subject.