• Winifred Rosenburg

      It’s an invitee’s choice whether to accept or refuse any invitation and he or she does not have to give a reason. I’m wondering hpw you expect the host to make sure none of the other guests where perfume or cologne?

    • Jody

      I’m with Winifred and JustLaura here. The invitee could send a polite (and prompt) regret that he/she is unable to attend the function. If the host presses for a reason, the invitee could just say something like “because of my allergy to perfumes and colognes I find that I’m not able to attend group gatherings.” The host can request that guests arrive frangrance-free, but as JustLaura mentions, he can’t force guests to refrain from scents.

  1. Mystified

    I have a particular relative who will throw parties for her young kids, ie birthday or christening. The party will typically be held during lunch time. The invitation will include a slip of paper saying something like “Please bring some sandwich rolls”. I’m wondering if there is an etiquette issue here. I think since it is a party she/he is throwing for their own child, and in the most recent case wasn’t even aware ahead of the invitation that she was having it, that she should supply a basic meal (if it’s at a meal time – say sandwiches and a salad) AND then if people offer to bring something give a suggestion. In this instance, she depends on each person to bring something and doles out exactly what she wants you to bring. And then you have to buy a gift for the child. Am I out of line in thinking she should wait til people offer to bring something before ‘assigning’ you a food to bring to her child’s party??

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You are right. It’s inappropriate for a host to make demands that the guests supply the food. If it were a potluck event where she was acting as coordinator rather than host, that would be different.

    • Jerry

      You’re right that there is an etiquette issue in your relative asking her guests to provide refreshments. Unfortunately the rules of etiquette also state that you cannot correct your relative’s bad behavior unless (i) she is a person over whom you have jurisdiction (i.e., a minor child), or (ii) she asks for your input. Your only remedy is to refuse to attend the party. Of course, you may damage your relationship with this relative if you exercise that option.

    • Ashleigh

      Besides being flat-out rude, this is also semi-impractical. Say you are told to bring 50 sandwich rolls for all of those who are attending. The day of the event, you have to cancel due to some emergency. Now she is either stuck running out to buy rolls at the last second or guests are forced to eat breadless sandwiches. By spreading the main dish of the day out between several guests, there is huge room for failure.

    • Mystified

      Thanks to all. I’m not sure I’d say anything to her about it, however, I did feel as a host that she should provide the basics of the party and as I am usually traveling with two small children of my own 3 hours+ each way and spending a whole weekend away to attend, I felt really put upon. I also feel that her desire to be cheap has gone too far on these occasions when I think a very basic meal would be appreciated and enjoyed more by all.

  2. Good morning, friends,
    I need some polite advice! As I’ve mentioned before, my husband owns a business. As of late, he is becoming more and more frustrated with a few of his regular customers, but wants to always be polite to them (after all, they are customers). His problem is this: These customers take it upon themselves to criticize aspects of his business, but they frame these as “suggestions.” While suggestions are always welcome, they have been repetitive and expensive. For instance, “You should offer food.” (We would need to invest $65,000 for the hoods, sprinklers, ventilation, ovens, extra cold storage and secure the landlord’s approval.) Another example, “You need better acoustics and different speakers for music.” (We are in the process of that, but the sound deadening foam will cost thousands, not to mention the new speakers, running the wires, etc). They’ll tell us the lighting is too dark/too bright, or don’t like the wall color, we need more tables/fewer tables, etc. Yet for all the business’ perceived flaws, they keep coming back and bringing their friends! I don’t understand it – we don’t go to their place of work and critique them every week, so why would they feel this is acceptable? Additionally, why do they feel we should just toss out tens of thousands of dollars on what they want? My husband’s business is doing well right now, but he hasn’t taken a pay check since it opened (he wants to put money aside to buy the building). We certainly aren’t rolling in cash. I suggested he say, “That’s a great idea, and when we get extra money, we’ll look into it.” However, each week the same people will accuse him of ignoring their ideas since the ideas weren’t instantly implemented. He says that he can’t keep repeating my suggested phrase since it hasn’t shut them up. Does anyone else have another phrase that might work?

    • Jerry

      It sounds like these are friendly customers, as opposed to just customers. And you’re absolutely right that you want to have a respectful dialog with them so that they keep coming back and so they keep bringing their friends.

      What you’ve described is a situation where the customer does not feel heard. (Unfortunately, corporate America has co-opted the the phrase “we’ll look into it” and turned it into a polite way to say “shove off.” As a small business, you don’t want to tell any customers to shove off.) Consider giving the customer some more direct reasons you can’t implement his suggestion. For example, I never would have though it would take $65,000 to outfit a kitchen. (I would have guessed $25,000.) So when someone says “you should offer food in your bar,” your husband can respond, “I’d love to, but the [$65,000] necessary to renovate the kitchen isn’t in the budget.” Or, if you don’t want to discuss costs, use the phrase “You know, that’s in our [5] year plan after we firm up our core business . . .” When someone makes a suggestion that you’re already looking into, let them know that you are, in fact considering their suggestion. Make them feel good!

      Oh, why do people feel it’s acceptable to critique a bar? Because everyone (well, almost everyone) has dreamed of owning a restaurant or a bar at some point, and they feel that they can run the business at least as well as the business’s owner. While unsolicited customer advice may make you uncomfortable, I’d try not to let them get under my skin. Every job has it’s unpleasant parts — dealing with unsolicited advice may be one of the unpleasant parts of owning a bar.

      Bars are in the business — in part — of providing space for people to forget about their own jobs. If the customer feels comfortable enough to play “let’s pretend I own the bar,” while returning to patronize your business, consider it a sign that you’re doing very well.

      • No, we certainly don’t want to tell them to shove off! Many of our customers’ suggestions have been great (“hey, could you put this beer on tap?” or “adding security cameras will probably help with your insurance”). He does let each person know that he understands and appreciates their taking a moment to offer a suggestion. However, as you might imagine, there are the pushy ones (one girl went to Ireland once, 3 yrs ago, and told me she can’t understand why my husband won’t hire her as a consultant… we’ve tried to explain we aren’t an Irish pub… she keeps bringing it up, saying we should be).
        He has told them in the past that he is unable to make such expensive changes when he’s focusing on small improvements (a new safe, more seasonal beers, new cash registers). Still, without fail, every week they’ll ask the same questions.
        As far as our customers playing “let’s pretend I own the bar,” I hadn’t thought of it that way, Jerry, and appreciate your insight. I’ll tell my husband that he’s created a certain comfort level and should take it as a compliment.

        • Vanna Keiler

          For what it’s worth, I liked Jerry’s answer also. I think it applies to situations across the board in many small businesses. So, Bravo Jerry.

        • Jerry

          ROTFL the want-to-be-consultant who had been to Ireland once . . . I probably would have retorted “If you’re really interested in an Irish bar, I’d be happy to answer any of your questions about getting a liquor and other licenses. . . .”

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Laura,

      I think it’s also a product of ‘Yelp’ culture, or the obsession some people have with reviewing bars and restaurants. (An obsession I sadly share…) People make a great hobby out of reviewing, suggesting, etc. At any rate, I would not take it personally. I think they like the place, see its potential, and want to help (in whatever misguided way they can, in some cases).

      It seems like the lighting and sound suggestions are easily dispatched with – you can easily mention the high cost, say that you are planning to improve the place over time, etc.

      The food entreaties are different. People who drink like to have food available. I know of some bars around these parts that have agreements with the pizza place next door so that people can get some kind of food while they’re in the place. You might also consider cold snacks, like a cheese plate – something that wouldn’t require a full kitchen. I knew of one brew pup that was getting cold salads from a nearby deli and set up a couple of george foremans for burgers!

      If all else fails, I guess you can ask these people if they want to become investors. Starting buy-in goes for $65,000. That would get them to zip it in a hurry!

      • We already have a partnership with the food-serving place next door, and any customer is welcome to bring in their own food (we get a lot of crock-pots on game days!) For holidays we provide free food (like what you suggested). Our food partnership is very popular, much to the delight of that establishment, but still people want us to start creating our own.

        • Elizabeth

          Sounds good, then. It sounds like you have a great place.
          It sounds too like your advice givers love the place and just want you to be more successful. I’m sure the repetition is annoying, but I guess you just have to try and remember that they are well-intentioned!

          Maybe you can use the time-honored adage: “It’s a nice idea, but we try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

          • I am not familiar with that saying, but like it very much. Thanks for sharing. :)
            I appreciate everyone’s taking a moment to chime in. Most of the suggestions really are kindly meant and have been very helpful, but there are some folks who get a bit hostile when they think we’re ignoring their nuggets of wisdom (“No, as the only non-smoking pub in the area, I don’t think we want to start allowing smoking… but thanks for suggesting it.”)

            I do sincerely appreciate all your opinions, though. 😀

    • Chocobo

      You might consider putting some distance in your standard phrase. Instead of saying “when we get extra money” — which customers could interpret as happening faster than reality permits — perhaps try something with a longer timeline. Maybe something like: “Thanks, Bob, I’ll definitely consider that in the future. Unfortunately, it’s not really in the cards for us any time soon, though. But let me know if you think of something else.” It shows you want to be responsive, and are receptive to ideas, but that these things take time — more time than they might think.That might help with the week-after-week “why hasn’t this happened yet?” reprises.

      I’m not sure I would discuss financial specifics like Jerry said: i.e. $65,000, because that opens you up to critique in the future of why you haven’t invested that $65,000, which you surely should have saved up by now. It also locks you in and makes it seem like it is something you will do when you get the cash, which isn’t necessarily true.

      I do agree that it is a good thing the customers feel so invested in his business.

  3. FLA-Girl

    I need a little advice about invitation wording. My husband and I are planning a renewal of our vows in a few months. As we eloped the first and were married by a Justice of the Peace, this will be our first “formal” event. We plan to send invitations. I would like to now how we print our names(bride with maiden name, married name, or both?)and how to word the invitation. Right now it’s “to a renewal of their vows” but I’m not sure if that’s right or if it should be “re-dedication”. Some help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Renewal of vows sounds fine to me. To give you another option, I believe “reaffirmation of vows” is a traditional wording.

    • Elizabeth

      I concur with Winifred, and would only add that you should print your names as you use them now. If you took your husband’s name and are known socially by his name, then a reaffirmation of the vows of John and Jane Smith is exactly what is in order. It would not make sense to use your maiden name, and it would appear as if you are trying to have a do-over, which is not what this event will be.

    • Alicia

      On a wedding invite in traditional wording the brides last name is not used only her first and middle. If you print a last name however use your real last name that is your married name now if you changed your name.

  4. Carla

    I have searched high and low for an answer to this question and am hoping to get some input.
    I am happily expecting a baby girl this coming January. We just found out what we are having and of course “Baby Shower” keeps coming up. This is our 3rd child, we have two boys ages 7 and 5 and our newest blessing will be a girl. We live several states away from our parents, close relatives and nearly all of our friends. To try to plan a shower, between the distance and the timing (right after the holidays) just feels maddening, and I am not expecting people to lose their minds to put a shower together for me. However, when we mention the possibility of not having a shower, the news is met with disappointment. Is there an appropriate way to have people send well-wishes or gifts without the party?
    Please help!

    • Elizabeth

      Showers are not as expected for second or third children, as it is assumed that you will still have a lot of the big equipment – stroller, highchair, car seat. All of the stuff that you would want new (since your newest will be a girl) is largely clothes and the like are relatively inexpensive. People send these things all the time out of the goodness of their hearts, and oftentimes do so when they receive the birth announcement. Or, if you will be “very pregnant” during the holidays, some people may give you baby gifts then.

      If your family/friends want to throw you a shower, but other issues are getting in the way of it, you just graciously thank them for the offer and explain to the disappointed that schedule-wise it just didn’t work out. Just remember – the shower isn’t in your control – its’ a party that others throw for you, but it’s an offer you are just unable to take them up on because of X, Y, and Z reasons. However, you will be sure to send a birth announcement with photos, and you can’t wait for them to meet your new daughter in the new year/at the next family reunion/for Easter. There is no way for your family or friends who would have sent a shower to send a shower non-invitation to ask people to send you gifts.

    • Chocobo

      Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy. I concur with Elizabeth completely: Showers are not in your control, and are not expected after the first child, so there is really nothing you can do. If someone still wants to throw you one, that is on them to make it work. If by your question you mean is there an appropriate way to tell people to send well-wishes or gifts in absence of a shower, the answer is no. They have to do that themselves (and from the sounds of it, probably will anyway), out of the kindness of their hearts.

    • Alicia

      If you do not want a shower and the potential hostess says something just decline and hopegfully they will respect your wishes.

  5. Jenna

    My apologies in advance if this posts in the wrong place… I just don’t know where else to ask!

    I was left a little taken back yesterday… I got an invitation from a friend (Mom A) to attend a playdate at another friend’s house (Mom B).

    The two moms who are getting together know eachother mutually through me and don’t normally get together. I have been in touch with both quite frequently this week and Mom B has never once mentioned a playdate at her house to me.

    I guess I’m fine with these two moms getting together, I just found the invitation (or lack of) hurtful. Not to mention, I have hosted numerous playdates or have initiated outings with Mom A and she never returns the favor, but now she’s inviting me to someone else’s house.

    I haven’t responded to the invite from Mom A because I don’t know what ot say.
    I come from a family where these kind of invites are viewed as rude. I am pregnant, so maybe I’m a little touchy, but still… want to know what others think.


    • Winifred Rosenburg

      There is, in fact, a rule that if you are introduced to someone the first time you invite them to something you must also invite the person who introduced you. There is also a rule that if someone plays host for you, you should play host for them. It’s possible in the latter problem that the person doesn’t have people over her home as often and you are too quick with your invitations for her.

      I agree that being invited by someone other than the actual host puts you in an awkward position. I suggest calling Mom B and telling her “Mom A told me I should come over… I wanted to check with you that it’s okay.” It’s possible she told Mom A to ask you. If not, hopefully she’ll be able to think on her feet and come up with an excuse.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with Winifred on all counts. It sounds as if you are in contact with these women a lot, so it’s probably best to to force a confrontation, but rather scale back your own expectations and availability based on their behavior. I would check with Mom B, and I would go and see how things are. Their behavior could be chalked up to flakiness or never having been taught good manners, but if you do sense a burgeoning friendship between them that does not include you at the same intensity, I think that just means you scale back how frequently you contact them, how often you invite them, the extent of your hospitality, etc. There are likely other moms who would love to be friends with you without the whiff of exclusion.

      • Jenna

        Thank you very much, Winifred and Elizabeth. I am glad to know that these are rules and not just my own opinion or sensitivity getting in the way.

        I had been struggling with what to do and wasn’t sure how to handle it on either side, but I feel more confident now with your suggestion to reach out to Mom B. Depending on the reaction, I may or may not be “available,” and I will definitely scale back my invitations in the future.

      • Jenna

        So it turns out, I may have been a little sensitive, but I feel better now having cleared things up. I addressed the matter the way Winifred suggested and got a response that my friend had been too busy but asked the other friend to extend an invite. They are getting together for professional reasons and also having a play date. Now I don’t feel so bad on the matter of invitation. Thank you so much!!

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