Open Thread

by epi on October 4, 2012

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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.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamey October 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm

For a while a situation has been bothering me but until recently I was unsure if it was rude or not.

I have a friends called Annabelle and Jessica who are married to brothers. Between them they have 5 children and 4 of those children celebrate birthdays in late summer, early fall. After 3 yrs of dating their brother-in-law became engaged to a young lady named Tiffany. In the 2 years that I have known Tiffany, she leaves every party/event that the family has included her in early (an hour and a half to two hours into the function). I realize she is very socially active, so I’ve been mum on the behavior. However the last event I attended, I arrived to hear Tiffany complaining to the hostess that when her family has parties, they begin eating when the party starts, not two hours later. If that wasn’t inappropriate enough, an hour and a half into the party Tiffany leaves, announcing that she was going shopping for her honeymoon because she did not finish the day before. Mind you this was a child’s party and Tiffany left before the hostess had served the meal, the child had opened his presents and without speaking to the birthday child directly to say goodbye. I’m not even the child’s mother or the hostess but I was offended by her actions. Is this bad etiquette and should she be confronted?

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Alicia October 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

No. Telling others that they are rude is rude itself. As you are not the parent, spouse, host, or anything other then another guest you should say nothing. I would however keep it in the back of my mind in case ever tempted to host this person.

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Jamey October 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Oh no Alicia, I think you misunderstood. I know that it’s not my place to say to her she’s rude. But my friend Annabelle and I have talked about this situation and she is offended. I’ve encouraged her say something to Tiffany.

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Alicia October 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

She really should not. Or at the most she should say that she is always so sad that Tiffany has to leave early for ever event because they enjoy her company so much. Ie the oblique it is obnoxious comment . Guests are not prisoners and can leave if they wish.

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Just Laura October 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I was about to say, how could you confront her and still maintain dignity? You can’t force her to stay. You can’t get angry with her as that would lead to an awkward setting for the duration of the party. As Alicia mentioned, stating that you regret her early departure should make a point that everyone in the room will hear.

In her defense, that sounds like an awful lot of children having birthday parties, and this isn’t even Tiffany’s blood-related family. Perhaps there are many children on her side too, and much of her spare time is taken up by kids’ parties that last hours. I’d probably want to edge toward the door as well! Besides, I’m sure the child’s day wasn’t ruined by one adult’s departure.
That said, when Tiffany lets you all know that shopping is more important than your company, that is in poor taste. She could have at least fibbed about having a headache/doctor’s appointment/prior engagement with her own family.

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Clara October 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Just to play devil’s advocate, I think it sounds like Tiffany is at least trying to be a part of her fiance’s family’s events (and it sounds like it is A LOT of children’s birthday parties–unless they are doing combined parties) whereas I know people who can’t get their significant other to attend their family’s events at all. However, it is rude that she is leaving very early ALL the time and very rude that she commented on how long the party goes on before the meal starts. That being said, it may be hard for Annabelle to give any weight to what Tiffany said b/c it was done in a rude way, but now that she has the knowledge, she may want to think about how long she waits to put out the meal. I have to be honest and say that I always appreciate it when a family member throws a party and serves the meal on the earlier side rather than 1.5-2hours in. I would never verbalize this to any of my family members, but when a party is thrown at the family member’s home where she waits hours to put out the food, I can’t help but think “oh gosh, that’s right, this is the house where she waits so long to put out food.”

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Clara October 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Just to clarify, it’s not due to hunger that I wish people would put food out a little earlier, but that the party starts to go into a bit of a drag or lull after 2 hours–although 2 hours is a long time and people actually could begin to get hungry if they did not eat beforehand, expecting to eat at the party.

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Chocobo October 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Definitely your friend should not say anything to Tiffany directly about her behavior. She can be offended, but reprimanding a future member of her family is a terrible, terrible idea. As you can see, it has caused such a rift for Tiffany to rebuke Annabelle as she did. How could it possibly fix anything to return the favor?

That said, waiting for hours to eat at a party where one expects to be fed is not fun. Traditionally, the arrival time is synonymous with about the time food is served, and not everyone likes to attend parties that never seem to end, held hostage for hours until they can eat and get on with the actual festivities. I cannot blame Tiffany for leaving before the hostess has served food when the hostess is detaining everyone for that long. But one does not ever question or criticize one’s hosts. Since Tiffany cannot exactly decline the events as she might with other acquaintances, what she should have done is come prepared: made sure she’s eaten beforehand, and simply left when she needed to without comment, or with a good predetermined excuse, e.g. “Oh this has been lovely, I must be going (‘I have an appointment’, etc.), thank you so much for having me!”

Tiffany was very rude, but please do not encourage your friends to make it worse by being rude in return.

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Learning October 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I’m surprised that children’s birthday parties regularly last much more than 2 hours. (If a meal is served at the 2 hour point, I’m guessing the parties last 4 hours or even longer.) In my family the “party” portion of a gathering (where everyone is expected to be present) is only an hour or two. Typically some people are arriving early, leaving late or both depending on individual time and inclination. But no one need be there more than a couple of hours unless they choose. Perhaps Tiffany’s family of origin has a similar culture and she hasn’t realized that the culture of her boyfriend’s family is different. If that’s the case, more explicit invitations might help clarify for her. (Join us for Junior’s birthday celebration 11 am – 4pm. We’ll have lunch about 1pm.)

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