Alone on the holidays

Dear Readers: The end of the year brings holiday cheer, but not for everyone. Some people are ALONE, whether widowed, homebound by illness or injury, or for any number of other reasons. Many like to be alone, but some may not.

What can you do? Check on your neighbors. Reach out and make sure they have what they need in terms of food, water, clothing, etc. Share a plate of food.

Ask them if they’d like to spend some time with your family. Be prepared — most likely they will resist, so don’t insist. But they will appreciate that you made an effort to reach out to them.

Just listen, if they’d like to talk. Time is a precious gift you can share, at the holidays and throughout the year.

— Heloise

Picky eaters

Dear Heloise: One of our favorite games (to encourage children to not be picky eaters — Heloise) was selecting a country on the globe and learning about its culture and the people who live there, and the foods they eat. France was one of their favorites.

Another simple hint is to set the dining room or kitchen table as one would for a candlelit dinner at a nice restaurant. Children love to play imagination games, plus they also will learn fine-dining manners, without even realizing it!

Food always tastes better when served with elegance, style and imagination. With these hints, there’s no need for lectures or fights over food, just common sense and an ability to tell a story to children!

— A Reader, Cripple Creek, Colo.

Leftover soap suds

Dear Heloise: I did an experiment. I took just a few pieces of clothing and tossed them in the wash, with NO detergent. I let the washer fill and agitate for two minutes. Whoa — there were soap suds in the water! The clothes aren’t clean if soap is left behind. Now I use the tiniest amount of detergent, and I never stuff the washer full.

— A.R., via email

May I see some ID, please?

Dear Heloise: Could you please remind people to write, clearly in pencil, on the backs of photos who the people are?

I’ve inherited some wonderful pictures from the 1890s and older, and they mean next to nothing to me because we don’t know who the subjects are.

— Carol F., McKinney, Texas

Pack your bags

Dear Readers: Winter weather is here, so pack the trunk of your car with some emergency essentials: blankets, boots, ice scraper, bottled water, granola bars and matches. Check with your auto club to see what it recommends.

— Heloise

Easy rental

Dear Readers: When on vacation, you probably will need to rent a car at some point. Here are some hints to make the process painless:

* Make your reservations early. The most fuel-efficient and in-demand cars go the quickest.

* Shop around. You may be eligible for discounts through your car-insurance company, wholesale-club membership or other avenues.

* Fill up the gas tank before you return the vehicle. The prices to refill at the car-rental place can be astronomical!

— Heloise

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Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.