Open Thread

by epi on April 11, 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.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jody April 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

You all were so helpful with my last tipping question, I thought I’d post another. Is it appropriate to tip a personal trainer? I’ve had a few personal trainer sessions through my gym and I’m wondering if a tip is appropriate. I have told gym management how good I think this trainer is.

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Country Girl April 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

I am certainly never “against” rewarding anyone for a job well done, however, unlike waitresses and chauffeurs, most personal trainers are paid pretty fairly, if not generously, for the job they do. (I know trainers in my area who make $50+ an hour, while wait staff makes under minimum wage at about $6 an hour not including tips.) So tipping does have the strong possibility of making your trainer feel a little uncomfortable. I know I would feel terribly uncomfortable if a client tipped me on top of the fair price they already pay me to do a job for them. Why not instead give your trainer a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, a healthy food store, or a sporting goods store? Or even simply a letter of recommendation to use with other potential clients as a way to thank them for all they’ve done for you instead? Giving a gift on a special occasion (their birthday, a holiday, your last session with them) is typically always appropriate. And probably the best way to thank a good trainer is by referrals to your friends, family, and coworkers! =)

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Winifred Rosenburg April 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

Unless the gym has a policy against it, there’s no reason why you can’t tip a personal trainer. It’s entirely up to your discretion.

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Ashleigh April 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

Upon completion of your sessions (or at Christmas time if this is long term), you should tip them the cost of 1 session.

If you’ve had a couple of different trainers, or a very small number of sessions (ie: free intro sessions for signing up for a gym membership), I think you’d be safe skipping the tip and just letting management know how great the trainer was.

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Country Girl April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm

To veer of that topic a bit, this past weekend my parents attended an Easter celebration with many relatives out of state. My grandmother, bless her heart, in her old age has really lost her filter. While she and my mother were sitting around chatting with a second cousin of mine, one whom I’ve not seen since I was about very young, my grandmother asked “So are you going to be able to come to (Country Girl’s ) wedding?” Well, needless to say, this distant relative and her family were not invited. The woman turned to my mother and said “Oh I’m not sure, when is the wedding?” to which my poor confused, (and non-confrontational) mother simply stammered out the date.

Now it isn’t that I have an aversion to this relative, as I barely know her, but the problem lies not only in the fact that I didn’t intend to invite her and her husband and 3 children, but this relative has a brother and sister with families who were also not invited. If we were to now invite this relative, we would also have to invite her brother and sister and their families, expanding our guest list (and food budget) substantially. What is the right thing to do?

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Winifred Rosenburg April 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm

You should do nothing. Your grandmother asking if they were coming doesn’t constitute an invitation. Neither does your mother telling them the date. The will likely figure out that they weren’t invited based on the absence of an invitation and that will be the end of it.

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Lilli April 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm

If you want to maintain a good relationship with these family members I would simply take them aside and apologize that Grandma hadn’t realized it will be a very small wedding and that you hope they weren’t offended for not receiving an invitation. I doubt they’d be offended if you aren’t very close.

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Kate April 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I think I would give this relative a call and explain that though you would love to include her, you are on a strict budget and unfortunately cannot accommodate 2nd cousins. Suggest that you celebrate together on a more personal basis at a later date – perhaps a visit or dinner party? I am sure your family member will understand.

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Zakafury April 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

I think Kate hit the nail on the head. A family with kids is a lot more fun in a back yard than in a banquet hall, anyway.

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Kate April 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Lately I have been getting invited to birthday parties for my friends’ young children (ages 1 or 2). I am currently a grad student and therefore on a very strict budget, and we don’t really have the money to buy birthday presents. Do I show up to the party empty-handed, with just a card, skip going altogether, or something else? I’d like to celebrate these milestones with my friends and their children, but feel weird showing up without a gift. What should I do?

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Pam April 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm

If you truly enjoy the parties, then you should attend. However, don’t feel obligated to attend every last one of them if you really are not into it. You could just say you are not able to make it and send a card. If you could manage just a very small gift…such as an inexpensive stuffed animal or a coloring book, those are nice little gifts for children who are probably receiving tons of things. It is all in the presentation, as well: a coloring book and crayons, wrapped with nice curling ribbon will look beautiful but may not set you back financially. Keep a lookout for really good sales at stores during the year and keep a little stash of things that you may have gotten for next to nothing, so that when these invitations roll around you are prepared. You could also offer, as they get a little older, a night of babysitting…which is a gift to both the child, who may like to spend time with you, and the parents. Although I am sure that you have a lot of schoolwork! Good luck!

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Winifred Rosenburg April 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

You can just bring a card and perhaps an inexpensive gift like something homemade if you are the craft-making type or something from a dollar store (lots of kids love stickers). Whether to go or not go is your choice but it doesn’t have to be based on what gift you can afford.

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Ll April 12, 2012 at 7:23 am

I guess it really depends on your friends, but personally as a mother of a two year old I dread all the huge elaborate gifts she gets for Christmas and her birthday. There just isn’t enough space. I would not be mad if someone did not bring a gift (I might even be thankful!). But if you are uncomfortable, you can always go to Kohls/Target and find a cute toddler outfit for $5 and under, and I’m sure the cost won’t be scorned. Skimp on the card.

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Alicia April 12, 2012 at 8:49 am

Skip the card. Bring nothing or something very inexpensive.I for exmple stock up on boxes of crayons when to school sales have them for 25 cents and then go to the dollar store for coloring books and give coloring books with crayons for this sort of event.
They mainly want you to come exclaim over what a nice kid they have and play a smidge with the kid.

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Ll April 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Alright ladies, I’m not second guessing myself on my answer, just want some backup from the etiquette department and honestly can’t find a similar post anywhere. My 2 year old is going to me in my cousin’s wedding this summer (my side of family). Recently my mother-in-law expressed how excited she was about the wedding (3 weddings this summer, 2 my side, 1 my husbands). When i mentioned her family’s she said no, your cousin’s. And asked if I would ask my cousin if she can come to the ceremony. Well etiquette gurus, what do you think?

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Jody April 12, 2012 at 8:22 am

Ll, I think that’s very forward of your MIL. Maybe you can say something like “oh I don’t like to ask another hostess to alter her guest list.” If you keep it light it should go over well. Hopefully your MIL will get the hint.

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Alicia April 12, 2012 at 8:57 am

No you should not ask your cousin to invite your mother in law! Asking to invite people to events puts the hosts in a tough spot when they now must say no to you.

Instead assure your mother in law that you will take lots of pictures maybe even video of your daughter in her cute dress in your cousins wedding and happily show them to her.

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Elizabeth April 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

I would dust off the old chestnut, “Oh, I know they have a limited budget and it’s going to be a relatively small wedding. I know they’re already not inviting people really close to them, so I’m sure they won’t be able to expand their guest list anymore. I’ll be sure to take some photos for you!”

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Winifred Rosenburg April 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm

If I am understanding this right, she just wants to come to the ceremony and not the reception? It depends on the ceremony location. My ceremony was at a large church. There were a few people there whom we didn’t invite and in fact I didn’t know at all but we weren’t bothered by it. When my sister was married, my mother-in-law asked if she could come to the ceremony. I asked my sister and she said “of course!” She came and left after the ceremony ended and had a great time. If the ceremony is in a public place (like a church) and there is no question of there being enough seating for the invited guests, there’s no harm in asking. Traditionally church weddings are considered to be open to the public and no invitation is required, unlike the reception. Since she will not be going to the reception it will cost the couple nothing. I say find out where the ceremony is. If it’s a public place, ask someone who would know how big the place is/if there is ample seating. If the answer is yes, ask if it’s okay for her to come!

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Vanna Keiler April 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I agree that it’s very forward for the MIL to request you ask to have her invited. Unfortunately, if you have not already declined to ask on her behalf, you may have to reinforce your position by bringing up the topic once more and tell her you are not comfortable asking for her, and leave it at that.

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Chocobo April 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Wedding ceremonies are traditionally public events which anyone can attend. I think this has been largely forgotten in the modern era, but it would not be inappropriate for people to attend the ceremony if it is held in a public space (a church, town hall, a park) and not attend the reception. I do not think it would be inappropriate to ask your cousin as a courtesy if your MIL could attend just the ceremony as she is so excited for the couple and feels like such a part of the family. Your MIL isn’t asking for an invitation or a place at the reception, so if you pass along the request to your cousin you would not be committing a faux-pas.

But if you are not comfortable with that, I think the advice of the others here is fine.

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Ll April 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Chuckabo, i think the issue to me is its not the couple she is excited for (she met them once), its the flower girl; you kind of touched on it. So to me it seems disrespectful and more of a moral issue. Also the church is rather small and its approximately a teo hour drive. I did end up saying no, i did feel inappropriate asking and have offered pictures and videos of the event.

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C April 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

My sister’s husband is obese. At a recent visit to my house he sat on my sofa and broke the springs in the frame (he was unaware that this happened). On another occasion he ruined the seat of another chair because of his weight. I love my sister and want her to visit, but I am ordering expensive furniture soon and I don’t want it ruined! Help!

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Ruth Peltier April 14, 2012 at 3:01 am

I am an obese woman and I am VERY careful where I sit when I visit anyone.

From my point of view, it would be a blessing to him, if you let him know what has happened and then provide a “special” chair you bring out when he comes. Trust me, it will be no surprise to him that he is obese, but he needs to realize what he is doing to furniture before it happens somewhere people will be much less understanding or he gets hurt when furniture breaks under him.

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