Advice from Denver Life

Need a little bit of space from the friends next door? (And other advice.)

Illustration by Ingo Fast

We often entertain in the summer on our backyard patio. We love our nextdoor neighbors but don’t always want to include them in our parties. How do we deal with the fact that they can hear us over the fence having fun without them? —Sally, Greenwood Village

The answer here is very simple: A few days before your next big “neighbor-less” soirée, invite the couple over for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (nothing fancy—just an hour or so to “catch up”). While they are there, casually mention that you are having a party that weekend—coworkers, your book club, old college buddies, relatives who are in town, whatever—and you hope the group won’t be so rowdy that they disturb any of the neighbors. The point is to make it clear that a.) you value their company and b.) in this case, the gathering is for a specific cohort that doesn’t include them. They’ll understand—they may even go out for the evening to avoid the noise!

My wife is a great rock climber and often goes climbing with male buddies. We have a great relationship and do lots of other fun outdoor activities together, but should I be worried here? —Joe, Longmont

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This is Colorado—and the 21st century. Men and women hike together, ski together, raft together, SUP together—and that doesn’t mean they’re doing anything else together that they shouldn’t be. If you and your wife have a good relationship, and you’re not a couch potato (it doesn’t sound as if you are), don’t sweat it. But if you need to put your mind to rest, why don’t you volunteer to accompany her to her next climb, to help with gear, etc. Doing so should accomplish three things: Give you a chance to see her do something really impressive with the guys (we hope she kicks their asses), remind the buds that you are the lucky guy she is married to, and ultimately give you two something more to talk about.

I usually get my mom flowers for Mother’s Day, but that is starting to feel boring. Any other ideas? —Sam, Boulder

First, let us just say that for most women— moms (and us) included— flowers never get old. But we understand your concerns. The main thing to remember on Mother’s Day is that the gift needs to be personal. Here are a few ideas. Is your mom a sentimentalist? Create a small photo book (we love Artifact Uprising, a local company that makes beautiful albums) that contains shots of some of your favorite memories with her. Is she great in the kitchen? Book her (with you, of course!) a night at a cooking class (we love Cook Street School of Culinary Arts, Stir Cooking School, and Uncorked Kitchen). Is she a big reader? Try to track down a first edition of her favorite book (we like Does she love theater? Book a behind-the-scenes tour (again, with you as her escort) of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, followed by lunch. And no matter what, write her a heartfelt note about how much she means to you—that may well be the thing she treasures most.

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