Ask Colin: Planning

Remembering Important Dates For Your In-Laws

Fan Jiang

Who is responsible for remembering birthdays and sending holiday cards to your new husband's family?

In the past, society automatically assumed this was a wife's responsibility. Happily, times have changed and today there's no set rule.

You can handle card writing and gift giving any way that works for you as a couple. Some women enjoy shopping; others resent the assumption that they're responsible for remembering their spouse's old college buddies or distant relatives the minute they're married.

The most important thing is to talk the issue over and come to an agreement on how you're going to handle it. You might want to buy a birthday book to help you keep track of important dates, or enter the dates into a scheduling program or shared calendar on your computer.

If your husband doesn't know his relatives' or close friends' birthdays or anniversary dates, ask his mother or a sibling, and the friends themselves. Refer to your book or calendar at the beginning of each month to see whose birthdays are coming up, then pick a day to shop together or to brainstorm about what people might need.

I like to keep a dozen or so birthday cards on hand at all times, in case of "emergencies." Next time you're at a good card shop, pick up a few extra cards to have on reserve.

Choose an assortment to include cards for anniversaries, weddings, condolences, baby births, congratulations and birthdays. A couple of additional blank cards will ensure you have everything (and everyone) covered.