Open Thread

by epi on April 2, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg April 2, 2012 at 12:52 am

Is there a rule about which way to step aside when walking directly towards someone on the sidewalk, hallway, etc.? Is there a specific side to use when walking up stairs and when walking down stairs (e.g., should one always hold the right handrail whether going up or down stairs?). Thank you.

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Elizabeth April 2, 2012 at 8:25 am

The general rule is to follow the laws of road traffic. If you drive on the right side of the road, walk on the right side of the hall. (I’m actually not sure if this is the case in England – if they walk on the left side.)

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Winifred Rosenburg April 2, 2012 at 9:03 am

It mimics driving so in this country always stay to the right. In England, stay to the left.

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Estelle April 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Is there a rule regarding whether an individual thank you card is needed after major surgery when you have received gifts, cards and flowers?

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Zakafury April 3, 2012 at 10:06 am

Yes, there are several rules. I’ll presume “you” are the one having the operation and offer my best wishes for a speedy recovery with many helpful friends and family.

You should send thank you notes for gifts (including flowers) after illness or surgery. A family member may write the notes on your behalf, and you are under no obligation to reply until you are feeling better.

Personal letters and cards should be replied to, but printed cards with only a signature do not need to be.

If you thanked the giver in person, there is no need to send a note.

Close friends and relatives can be thanked over the phone or even by email, at your discretion.

Sending too many thank yous is never a problem (except, perhaps, when thank you cards are being sent in response to thank you cards.)

http://www.emilypost.com/communication-and-technology/notes-and-letters/99-thank-you-notes-to-send-or-not-to-send

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Allison April 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I recieved a gift certificate to a theater location that is not in my area.This is from a relative out of state. I am not able to use this gift. I of course do not want to hurt her feelings. What should I do? Thank you,
Allison

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Alicia April 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Write a thank you note and then regift the gift certificate to someone who is in an area that the theater is avaible. Or use it on vacation or while traveling .

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Allison April 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Alicia, Thank you for your advice.

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Pam April 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Alicia, if you do not know anyone to whom you would be able to regift the gift certificate, you could also auction it on ebay. Even consider donating it to a library or somewhere in that area that could raffle it off.

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Country Girl April 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Hi friends,

I am getting ready to purchase jars, fruits, labels, cloths, and supplies to make jars of jam for my wedding favors. I am wondering what types of etiquette rules apply to the wedding favors? I want to get an idea of how many jars I should plan to make in order that I not make way too many (as they will be at least slightly costly) or too few.

We’re not having seating arrangements, so my original thought was to have one table with the favors. Some of the things I’ve witnessed at other weddings were announcements of one favor per family (I find that tacky, but I also wouldn’t expect that every person in a family of 6 would want their own jar of jam?) Another thing I’ve witnessed is one of my older female relatives taking multiple extra wedding favors from my cousin’s wedding to bring home with her and distribute among guests who were invited but couldn’t make it. Is that typical behavior, and I should plan extras for guests who aren’t even coming?

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Elizabeth April 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Hi CG,

Usually wedding favors are chosen such that each person gets one. Many times the seating assignment is keyed into the favor. For instance, I had a box of jordan almonds for each guest, and their name and table was printed on the label. Since you’re not having a seating arrangement (dangerous! but you know your family), the only other way is to have one at each place setting. The most obvious solution is to make tiny jars of jam so that it would be ok for each person (in a family of 6 to have one). If you don’t want to make one for everyone, the only other thing I can think of is to put multiple peoples’ names on the jar, as in “The Jones family” or “Peter and Paula Smith,” so that people know to take the favor per couple or per family. If you just put them out, some people WILL take advantage. The other thing you could possible do is to put a sign up asking people to take “One per couple, two per family” or similar. If you’re going to have announcements or in your toast or something, you could mention it. However, this seems to be a strange way to distribute wedding favors – you might consider a different favor? You could make homemade truffles, one per person, for instance. It’s just so much easier when it’s one per person and they are obviously placed at each place setting -that way no one will take multiples because it’s obvious that it is one per person.

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Country Girl April 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Thanks for your quick response Elizabeth! I definitely have my heart set on the jam and don’t mind making a favor for each guest if that is what will be expected. I should have clarified my thought was that most of the families we have invited include multiple small children (7 and under). I wasn’t sure if it was necessary to plan to have a jar of jam for each child or not. (I will be having a children’s activity area with other things for them to take home like coloring books and pinwheels as well if that matters.) Although I had hopes of allowing families to take what they wanted or needed, I now am realizing and think you’re right in that the only way to plan properly and ensure each guest gets their favor is to either label them or place them at each of the place settings.

Thanks again!

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Winifred Rosenburg April 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm

There aren’t a lot of etiquette rules for favors because they aren’t required. From what I’ve observed, typically food favors are given one per person and non-food favors are one per family. The reason for that is if say you’re giving picture frames a family of five doesn’t need five of the same frame for their home. Because there are no rules on the subject, its just a question of what makes sense for your reception. Having one table risks people forgetting to take it and you being left with a lot of jam, which is what happened at my brother’s wedding. Are there a certain number of seats on each table where you can have someone place ten jars at a table for ten? Or can you have a few bridesmaids hand them out as people are exiting at the end of the party?

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Country Girl April 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Thank you Winifred and Lady Antipode for your thoughts. Winifred that was my thought too, and even though jam is a food item, it is not an immediately edible one like candies or cookies, so I didn’t imagine a family living together would have use for that many jars and I would have wasted my money on ending up with tons of extras.

Lady A, my wedding will be outdoors with one exit, so labeling them might be an option, and as you said, a few extras would definitely be better than not enough. Lots of things to consider….. =)

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Zakafury April 4, 2012 at 9:46 am

You could delight the jam lovers with a layout of blank-label extras and a sign that says “Take a second if you like!” instead of “One per household.”

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Alicia April 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

Well you should at least consider trying to keep the size of jam jars to 3oz if any/many of your guests are flying as I know i was heartbroken at a 6z homemade jelly at a wedding a year or so ago that had my name so I had to take it and then was 6oz and since flying carry on I could not get it past TSA. Over a dozen jars were given to my cousin who had driven and went back to the hotel to have a been with the out of town family. But it was a waste since no one single college kid needed 12 jars of jelly. Had they not had individual names all of us flying would have just left the favors but you can not do that when it has you name emblazened.
So I am in favor of small jars per person

Lady Antipode April 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I think Elizabeth has the right idea about labels. If you put the favours table near the door (for people when they leave), and label each one according to who it’s for (in big, easily visible letters), it should minimise the chances of people taking more than you’ve planned for them.

Still, it might be worthwhile making a few extras just in case. Then you’ll have spares if someone says their family’s favour isn’t there and you guess Aunt Oldie took it. If they’re not taken at the wedding, then you have some that you can give to guests who couldn’t make it, or you have some yummy jam to enjoy on your honeymoon.

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Jody April 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I have another wedding-related question. I’ve been invited to a wedding this month; while I do know the bride and groom, I was invited as a friend of the groom’s family. I want to send the wedding present to the couple — is it proper to send it to the groom since he’s the one I really know? Or, should I call the groom’s family to get the bride’s address and send it to her?

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Winifred Rosenburg April 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm

You should write the bride and groom’s names and then care of and the groom’s family’s name and address. (or just leave out the care of line and assume they’ll figure it out.) If the groom is still living with his parents, you can also just address it to him and include a card addressed to both of them.

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Pam April 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Jody, if the bride and groom have a registry (even if you are not using it) they often have a “shipping” address. If so, use that address. Otherwise, sending it to the groom’s address, addressed to both of them, is fine.

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Jody April 3, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks Winifred and Pam. Winifred, that’s what I intend to do — send the gift to the groom’s house (his parents) and inside write both the bride and groom’s name.
Pam, they do have a registry (and plenty on there within my price range). I believe that they’re going to move to Utah after the wedding, where the groom is finishing school. I don’t want to add one more item to their “we have to ship this” list so I might give them a gift card to the store where they’re registered. Then, after the wedding and move, they can go to the local branch of that store and purchase what they need that wasn’t already given to them. (that’s convoluted grammar but you get my point)

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diana April 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm

My daughter sent out save the date notices and some have responded that they cannot attend. Do we still send them a formal invitation as a courtesy and a reaffirmation that their presence is still desired? Or will this only seem to be a hint for a gift,, which it surely is not!

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Alicia April 3, 2012 at 8:19 am

Yes please still send out invites that way they know that they are still invited if they change their mind. It will not come across as a gift hint.

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Lauren N. April 3, 2012 at 9:28 am

At a bridal shower hosted at someone’s home, who greets guests as they arrive? My understanding was that the hostess (who in this specific case would be the homeowner), not the guest of honor (here, the bride), would greet the guests. And if it *is* the hostess, who would greet guests in her stead if she is limited in mobility or in ability to stand for long periods of time? Would the guest of honor then step in, or would there be a secondary person the hostess would “appoint”? (This scenario played out recently, and the bride and I could not find it in the answer in the 17th Ed.)

Thank you very much for your time!

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Elizabeth April 3, 2012 at 11:25 am

The hostess (the home-owner) would greet the guests. The bride is the guest of honor. She will obviously greet the guests as well, but need not be stationed by the door. If the hostess cannot greet because of limited mobility or other issue, it seems sensible to appoint someone else (essentially someone to answer the door, say hello, direct guests where to deposit coats and/or gifts).

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Kelly April 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

How do I handle a neighbor who has kids the same age as my two kids and had played together for the past couple of years together a lot but since the beginning of this school year no longer acts friendly towards me. I want the kids to play together and benefit from each others friendship. I miss my neighbor as a causual friend but it has become very clear that she does not look to me for friendship. I had tried for 3 months to continue to be contact with her but after that period I stopped. Durning this time she learned my son was picked for a special program and her daughter is agitated towards my daughter based on jealousy. The boys has always gotten along very easily. Do I keep trying to extend my friendship?

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Just Laura April 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Kelly,
It’s always tough to lose a friend, but that is what has happened here. Please don’t press the issue with your neighbor. You don’t know the reason she has decided to politely end the friendship (and it does sound as if she has done it in a kind manner, rather than saying/emailing nasty things to you, or gossiping about you to other neighbors). Miss Manners says “the way to drop acquaintances is to keep being too busy to have time for them until they give up.” Sometimes people grow apart – this doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Try finding other parents through after school programs. I bet you’ll have new friends in no time.

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