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Go Ask Aunt Becky


Is it trashy to hang your child’s art work (one construction paper size piece from each child) on the storm door?

Oh, Gentle Reader, if only you knew how many nights I stayed awake, soaking the pages of the newest Pottery Barn catalog with my drool, dreaming, just dreaming of the days when my sofa might match the drapes and I might be able to use my coffee table for more than a toddler-jumping-off platform (it is also used, I want to add, as a bed for Auggie. Which, I know. Huh?). I fantasize about the days when I will have end-table books and breakable hurricane lamps on my dining room table.

Truth be told, I fantasize about being a size 4, too, and, well, yeah.

I’m no (insert home style star here) and if I had to describe my house, it would be kid chic, complete with a side of dog and cat fur! So I may not be the best person to ask this question to, but I will try to answer you proud.

Providing that you’re not trying to score a centerfold spread in Architectural Digest or act like you live in a house that has no kids, I say why not? Providing, of course, that the drawings aren’t of anything graphic (OR DECIPHERABLE if so) and/or containing: penises, vaginas, butts, poop, or people in various stages of killing each other.

Unless, of course, you’re trying to scare off potential door-to-door salespeople or people who want to tell you about how God Can Save YOU. Then, I would be as graphic and foul as possible.

If it’s cute and it makes you happy to look at and you don’t mind telling the world that you have kids, I’d say go for it.


I have a family member who gives Mister and I, and our children, things we really don’t need. (Or want) This person is a semi-compulsive shopper in recovery, and I think a lot of her “gifting” is actually “cleaning off a shelf.” I’ve tried to hint that we really don’t need these things, without sounding like an ungrateful bitch.

What really makes me feel bad is that she takes the time to wrap them, and pays good money to ship them across four states. Is it rude to say, “Let’s just exchange one gift per person this Christmas.” Which would be code for, “Please don’t pay Fed Ex to ship me a(nother) salad spinner, a shoe shining kit, a pair of socks with cats on them, and a flashlight, wrapped in red and green paper.” (Ugly! Hateful!) Help!

Now this, my dear friend is a tricky question.

First, I would probably thank her for her generosity (on, at least, the phone, if not in person. Email can be tricky because tone cannot be interpreted) as kindly as possible, because, well, that’s polite. Then, as she’s ‘you’re welcoming you,’ I’d throw in a really, really, really sweet sounding “you really don’t have to go to all the trouble!”

I would probably leave it at that so as not to offend her.

If she persists (getting rid of some of this stuff may be sort of a gift in and of itself to her, because perhaps it makes her feel as though she’s really sending the stuff to a good home) sending gifts, I would donate them to charity.

Because I understand that you need another whimsical Santa-head oven mitt like you need a hole in your head.

Trust me.


Hey Aunt Becky,

Since you’re such a people person, what thoughts do you have on avoiding relatives who plan on sleeping (and yelling) at your house for a week during Christmas WITHOUT actually telling them to their face how much you can’t stand them?

No this is not early, they just ordered their plane tickets on the internet, and I do not have the money to send my family of five flying in the opposite direction.


“In the Middle” (Thanks, I’ve always wanted to use a corny pseudonym.)

ps. Something is messed up on the sight right under “ask”.

First, corny pseudonyms are drastically underused today, Aunt Becky agrees*.

If being honest about this is out of the question and straight up mentioning (or having your spouse say) that having a houseful of guests isn’t feasible, I would go with one of the following options:

Option 1: I would do whatever (and I MEAN whatever) I could to make sure that they stayed in a hotel. Your sanity is worth a hell of a lot, and if you’re dreading Christmas already (SO been there), then maybe you can find a cheap rate for a nearby hotel. You could GRACEFULLY, tactfully insist that they stay here, as your gift to either them, or to you.

Option 2: Depending on your relationship with them, if it were good enough, I might ask at some point (in my stupidest, I don’t know anything tone) “Oh! Where are you staying!? I hear there are some AWESOME rates at (name local hotel). Want their number?” Be forceful, stupid sounding and gentle at the same time.

Option 3: Convince your family that you have some horrible communicable disease like rabies and they cannot possibly be exposed! O! The humanity!

Option 4: Call your doctor and get a prescription for Xanax and spend your holidays living on a fluffy, pink cloud where you won’t care that everyone is yelling at you.

Option 5: Call your liquor store and get a case of (insert your drink of choice) and spend your holidays living on a fluffy, pink cloud where you won’t care that everyone is yelling at you.

Option 6: Move out for that week. Fake a work trip, a separation, whatever, and get the hell out of there.

Option 7: Praise Sweet Merciful Baby Jesus that your family doesn’t live closer and try and grin and bear it. Then say a prayer thanking Sweet Baby Jesus that the holidays only come once a year.

Now, none of these options excludes the other, so if you like a little from Column A and a little of Beaker B, feel free to mix them up.

I wish you good luck, my friend. Good luck indeed.


As always, should you have a burning question for Aunt Becky other than “How does The Daver stand you?” (that has already been answered in my FAQ page), please go over to my sidebar and click on the “Go Ask Aunt Becky” page. You can freely and anonymously send me questions, which I will answer every Sunday.

Also, if you would like, I have been nominated for a couple of awards, two on my sidebar at the top and one here. They do both annoyingly require registration, but if you’d be inclined, I’d be thrilled. Seriously, thank you to all who voted. I owe you.

Deadline for entry into my contest to give away all my BlogHer swag is September 8th. I’m afraid (read: thrilled to be done with owning business cards) I have no more cards to give anymore.

AND, if you have anything RESPECTFUL that you want to add here in the comments, go ahead! Just be nice to these people.

*get it!?! HA.

posted under Go Ask Aunt Becky
26 Comments to

“Go Ask Aunt Becky”

  1. On September 6th, 2009 at 1:56 am Kate Says:

    My mom is a compulsive shopper and used to send CRAP my way all the time (before I cut her out of my life).

    I think the advice to give it to goodwill or charity is spot-on. You can’t tell someone to not send you stupid stuff without them being able to turn it around into you being an ungrateful jerk, so just thank them as you’re on your way out the door to donate it elsewhere.

    Some things aren’t worth the fight.

    As for the family inviting themselves over during Christmas, I’d go with the option (too lazy to go back and look which it was) of telling them they can’t stay at your house. If they want to come over, they have to stay in a motel. No ifs, ands or buts. I can’t stand people who invite themselves over, anyway. You’d think they’d at least ask if it was going to be convenient for you, their hosts! Sheesh.

    Great advice, Aunt Becky!

  2. On September 6th, 2009 at 2:06 am Stone Fox Says:

    well. i’m still awake and thought i’d pop by before bed. thanks for posting, aunt b., now i have to read it and laugh and leave a stupid comment. which, of course, includes my own un-asked for advice.

    storm door art: hell yeah put it on the storm door. i wish i thought of this. i am so tired of opening the fridge only to have 8 hundred pieces of kid art fall on the floor. if you live in the country (like we do) you get a lot of dust through the house (like we do) so make sure you wipe the dirt and kid-smears where you are going to put the tape. you know what would be really cool? if all of your kids each drew pictures of the storm door and thats what you taped to the storm door. or they drew pictures of things that *weren’t* storm doors and if the person at the door couldn’t identify what the pictures were, they couldn’t come in the house. i am so jazzed, this is effing brilliant.

    compulsive shopper family member: sell that shit on e-bay. laugh at the irony when she bids and wins on something you posted.

    unwanted christmas guests: option 1: MOVE. pack your shit and get the hell out of dodge. this is serious. like a wildfire serious. like you have been on evacuation alert and they just changed it to evacuation order. grab the kids and the photo albums and a couple pairs of underwear and haul. ass.
    option 2: rip up every carpet and every square of lino in your home, then send them an email explaining why they can’t stay with you. include copious pictures showing your demolished house and pick one of the following: a) a pipe burst upstairs and leaked through the floors, wrecking all the flooring, b) an infestation of termites is currently eating through your subfloor, or c) you killed a man and can’t decide which floor to bury him under so you are examining all of them to find the most suitable. this may seem fairly expensive, but really it’s cheap at twice the price if it keeps away the relatives.

  3. On September 6th, 2009 at 2:07 am Stone Fox Says:

    dammit. i just saw the *RESPECTFUL* thing. feel free to delete my comment.

  4. On September 6th, 2009 at 4:22 am Mwa Says:

    Oh, the Christmas guests. I suppose at least there should be lots of booze around, it being Christmas.

  5. On September 6th, 2009 at 6:57 am DG at Diaryofamadbathroom Says:

    Ugh, relatives. Can’t live with ’em, can’t poison their mashed potatoes.

    This happens to me on occasion and I always try to make the best of it. I use it as an excuse to cook a delicious dinner of something that I love, make and consume some fabulous cocktails and invite people that I actually enjoy to join our little festival. It ends up being over quickly and before I know it we are sweetly waving good by to them on the front porch and subsequently doing the happy dance once we are out of sight of their rear view mirror.

    You are dishing out some sound advice here, just avoid that Ann Landers hairdo whatever you do.

  6. On September 6th, 2009 at 7:14 am Kori Says:

    I have two really major things going for me. No, three:

    1. I have four kids and am in fact the onlt prolific one in the family. Nobody wants to be around the daily routine of four kids and two cats and a dog and a rabbit.

    2. I have (rather intentionally) a fairly small house.

    3. I am not very nice.

    Really, it’s pretty much a win-win situation for me.

  7. On September 6th, 2009 at 9:07 am Sandy Says:

    The worse, THE WORST, is when YOU have to pay to ship said crappy gift, because you are visiting the gift giver and it’s too big to put in your luggage or carry on the plane. I once paid $40 (yes) to ship a Teddy Bear cookie jar and FULL SET of matching dishes. I was so angry I almost jumped out of the plane on the way home.

  8. On September 6th, 2009 at 9:08 am Nicole Says:

    Yeah! Something to look forward to on Sundays! I like the solultions you gave – very fair.

    We purposefully bought a house with no accomodations for house guests, forcing my in-laws to stay at a hotel every time they come. My God how I wish staying in hotels required lottery winnings.

  9. On September 6th, 2009 at 8:17 am Jenn Says:

    Love the holiday/family suggestions. I have actually used the “Oh! Where are you staying?” one, hahah. It does work, funny enough. (Though I admit feeling guilty about it for… ever.)

  10. On September 6th, 2009 at 9:30 am Badass Geek Says:

    Hey, you could always turn around sell the unwanted things you receive on eBay for some extra cash. That’s probably what I’d do.

  11. On September 6th, 2009 at 8:53 am stacey@Havoc&Mayhem Says:

    If I could hang my kids artwork on the French doors and not be blocking the only source of sunlight for the kitchen & hallway, I would totally do it.

    Blessedly I have no annoying relatives who would expect to stay with us if they visited. My house is too small for thier family of 5 to sleep in. Gosh darnit all to heck!

  12. On September 6th, 2009 at 9:35 am Amy d Says:

    In regards to the “gift giver” delima…3 words…PURGE, PURGE, PURGE!!!! It would give me extreme satisfaction to chunk some piece of crap a family member decided to litter my pristine home with. And who cares about the $ they spent to ship it!!!! They’re using you as a dumpster!!

    Bottom line, the lady thinks she made your life by pawning off salad spinners, and you’re happy that crap isn’t taking up space! Win win for all!

  13. On September 6th, 2009 at 9:50 am Becca Says:

    We are so lucky that our most annoying family members don’t deign to talk to us anymore. Also, that C might have threatened to beat her ass is a big help!

    I say if you can’t live with them, make them go away quickly if possible.

    As far as the gift giving, I can’t help b/c I have at least one family member per season that gives me stupid crap and then wants to see me use it. I am such a puss in that area.

  14. On September 6th, 2009 at 10:27 am Brianna Says:

    I third selling the useless crap on eBay. It’s useless to YOU, but some dipshit will pay $30 for it! Score! Then you can honestly tell your relative thanks, it came in handy. ‘Cause, you know, restocking your wet bar is the most awesome gift of all.

  15. On September 6th, 2009 at 12:02 pm Courtney Says:

    Actually, on the last Q&A I’d say that option 4 excludes option 5 and vice versa. All others may be combined at will.

  16. On September 6th, 2009 at 1:15 pm Beautiful Mess Says:

    *clapping* very well done! I frame some of the pictures my kids have made me. Or they go on the refrigerator and sometimes get “lost” in a cleaning spree.

    Sundays have a tone of excitement now! YAY for Ask Aunt Becky!!!

  17. On September 6th, 2009 at 1:35 pm Allie Bear Says:

    Great advice Aunt Becky, another idea for the unwanted holiday visitors: you could always knock out a wall or something and say you’re remodeling? or you know, maybe actually remodel something so that your house wouldn’t be very inviting. Or say your air conditioner/ heater is broken (depending on where you live) and explain how it would be miserable staying there.

  18. On September 6th, 2009 at 2:12 pm Melanie Says:

    To the poor person whose relatives sound like the expect to stay with her:

    I absolutely would suggest, when the relatives mention the tickets, to ask them where they are staying. If they ask to stay with you, then absolutely stand your ground!! There are several options, all of which don’t involve lying. You want to keep the house as calm as possible because the holidays are so crazy. You are not sure that after the last years’ visit that it would be such a good idea. Please don’t medicate and please don’t lie. You are stronger than that, and don’t need to take the coward’s way out.

    If they get mad, then calmly but firmly state that they really should have spoken with you before making plans, and tell them that of course they would not be so rude as to assume that they could stay with you and buy tickets without asking first. Inserting a shocked tone could of course readily indicate that you would never do such a thing and wouldn’t expect anyone you know to do it either.

    If they are offended, they certainly will get over it eventually. If they don’t, then you have fewer relatives who take advantage of you and spend that time yelling- is that such a bad thing?

  19. On September 6th, 2009 at 7:12 pm Ginger Magnolia Says:

    Goodwill is the way to go for the superfluous gifts. I have an aunt whom I adore, but she is in her 70’s and insists on giving me clothes (that are hers) every time I go to visit. While she’s a pretty hip lady, I do not intend to wear the latest in senior chic. Therefore, I am constantly taking trips to Goodwill after each visit. She is none the wiser, and I don’t have a closet full of crap I’ll never wear.

    I also agree that the relatives shouldn’t just expect to stay at your reader’s house. Shoooot, they need to get themselves to a hotel!

  20. On September 7th, 2009 at 1:44 am lauren Says:


  21. On September 7th, 2009 at 9:19 am Megan Says:

    My mother always gives me the weirdest gifts. These are things that she sees when she’s out shopping and thinks are super-cute or such a good price or whatever, but that she doesn’t actually want in her house, or that she’d never wear/use/whatever. And since she lives nearby and comes over often, I can’t just outright get rid of them before a reasonable amount of time has passed. What I did do, though, was to lay down a law that I don’t want any gift that isn’t usable. Meaning, if the sole purpose of this object is to sit on a shelf or table and gather dust, I don’t want it. If I can eat it/wear it/read it/watch it/burn it or somehow otherwise use it, then it’s (more) acceptable. It doesn’t solve the problem completely, but it definitely got rid of the things that I feel obligated to set out on the mantlepiece, meaning that they would be in plain sight, meaning that when she came over and didn’t see them, she might ask “hey, what happened to that _______ that I got you?” So that’s a bonus.

  22. On September 7th, 2009 at 4:38 pm Kendra Says:

    I guess I should feel lucky that no one wants to stay with us. Between my husband, myself, three kids, and my father-in-law, there’s no arguing that the house is pretty much full already.

    And regarding the kid art, if tacky is a concern, then I’m in serious trouble! My oldest started kindergarten last year, which meant school projects in addition to the regular glut of drawings of Ninja Turtles, Batman villains, and whatever else he draws and then hangs all over all the walls (we go through a lot of poster putty!). So the entire entryway is (still) covered in projects. Every time he brought home a new one that we wanted to hang, we’d choose one to remove and just cycled through them that way. By the way, since I can’t bear the thought of just getting rid of any of these things but also don’t want my house filled to the rafters with kid projects, I took a picture of everything he made in kindergarten, then took all those photos to one of the photo websites and had them made into a book. So for $20, I have a record of everything he made in kindergarten and only actually kept a handful of things. It’s a good system for those of us with packrat tendencies!

  23. On September 7th, 2009 at 5:53 pm Sarah Says:

    Just, nicely done. All straight-forward and whatnot.

  24. On September 7th, 2009 at 9:14 pm Lucy Cooper Says:

    Aunt Becky, I smell a Mommy Wants Vodka holiday after-school special. Who’s going to play you? And who will play the Daver?

    I’m thinking that The Daver will be played by Meryl Streep. As will I.

  25. On September 8th, 2009 at 5:00 am Reticent Says:

    I had relatives who used to stay with us as their vacation.

    One year, when they said they were coming, I don’t know where it came from, I answered that there’s too much going on here and I can’t have company like I used to. Sorry.

    Then just sit quietly and don’t say a word until they say something, but hold your ground.

    If they ask questions, don’t give an inch. Give one word answers. Say “Sorry, it won’t work.”

    I bet sitting quietly is hard as hell but effective too. Good idea!

  26. On September 8th, 2009 at 8:42 am SciFi Dad Says:

    We tried to encourage my inlaws to stay in a hotel.

    “The beds were uncomfortable.”

    So instead they slept on air mattresses on our floor.

    *jaw drops open.* NICE.

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