DEAR HARRIETTE: Every year, a co-worker helps his daughter sell Girl Scout cookies, and it's hard to say no because the dad forces everyone to make a purchase. The cookies are amazing, but I would prefer to purchase them from a place of happiness as opposed to being forced to make a purchase. How can I make the experience more enjoyable the next time around because I believe in helping the organization? -- Cookie Peddler, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR COOKIE PEDDLER: One way to feel more at ease about this experience is to think about the big picture. Your co-worker is doing a great thing by helping his daughter in her sales effort. Not every parent joins in for these endeavors. Forgive him for not being a skilled salesperson. If you can look at him with compassion, it may help you to feel less irritated, especially since you actually do like the product.
To any parent out there who is attempting to help a child sell any goods to friends and co-workers as a fundraiser for an organization, charity or school, remember to be gracious. Do not be pushy. Instead, speak about the cause. Ask repeat contributors to give again, but do not push them. If you keep track of what your "customers" buy, you may also want to be specific when you ask again. "Did you like those shortbread cookies you bought last year? Would you be interested in buying more?" Then step back and allow the person to think about it. Graciousness often makes more sales.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My fraternity brother, who is also my line brother, has recently gotten engaged to his girlfriend of more than six years. I am very happy for both of them, as they are wonderful for each other and have an amazing spiritual foundation. I haven't met the wife because we attended different universities, but I am excited for the wedding, which has been set for the summer. I am not only excited that my close friend is getting married, but I am elated because this is my first wedding as an adult. It would be negligent if I didn't mention that I am a recent college graduate and I currently reside in one of the most expensive states in the U.S. The wedding is out of state, which will require me to cover flight and hotel accommodations. With this in mind, what are some good gift ideas for the future husband and wife? -- My First Wedding, New York City
DEAR MY FIRST WEDDING: Congratulations to your friend who is getting married. As you make your way to your friend's wedding, create a budget that lets you know what resources you need in order to cover expenses. With a clear understanding of what you need and what you have, go to the couple's gift registry and look for something that fits within your modest budget. Usually, couples will select a broad range of items they need to start their life together, typically across a range of prices. Do not feel ashamed that you can afford only a small gift. The gift of your presence counts for a lot, too!
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)