Open Thread

by epi on March 1, 2013

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.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth March 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm

If a family member throws a surprise birthday party at a restaurant and gifts are brought in, is the Hostess suppose to pick up the bill or do we pay individually? I feel like if you are being invited to a dinner regardless of where its held at, that it should be paid for.

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Winifred Rosenburg March 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm

It depends. If someone is the official hostess, that person should pay for dinner. If this person is a coordinator not a host, she does not have to pay. The difference between the two is sometimes subtle. If you got a written invitation (not an email), it’s usually safe to assume someone is hosting. If you got a call saying “want to go out with us for Bob’s birthday? We’re meeting at XYZ.” she’s probably a coordinator.

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Rachel March 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I know that etiquette says you should only invite people to a reception who were at the wedding, but I also know there are exceptions (ie: LDS Temple weddings). I am in the very early stages of planning a wedding that needs to be tiny (<10 people) to accommodate my fiance's parent's social anxiety. Parent wouldn't attend the reception. Would it be tacky/poor manners to have a low key reception with a larger guest list? Guest list would be family and close friends, but that tops 100 very quickly – I have a very large family. It'll be my 2nd wedding, his 1st, if that makes any difference. Thanks!

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Kelly March 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm

It seems like people are more outspoken these days with little regard for others and their feelings. It is also a new era where wit is believed to be rude, snide behavior. How does one combat snide or indirect insulting remarks from people they interact with on a regular basis?

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Kelly, 2 March 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I am tagging onto Kelly’s question because I struggle with the same. In about 2 months I will have to move back in with my parents for a month and a half due to financial reasons connected to my move to another state. My parents are extremely negative people that readily offend others and I am dreading staying there. What is the proper way to respond when someone is rude? For example, my parents often badmouth the neighbors. I usually don’t respond at all, and then they ask me: “Are you mad at us or something?” And if I do respond and say something like, “I’m sure Candace doesn’t feel good about making that mistake, and us talking about it won’t make her feel any better,” then they descend on me like vultures and for hours will tell each other (and anyone else who comes) – in front of me, of course, so I could hear – that I don’t know what people are like, that people say bad things about me all the time, right down to calling me stupid. They are my parents and I respect them, but I am really nervous about having to spend this prolonged time in their house and keeping my sanity. How should I respond when they are rude?

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Sorry to add March 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Sorry, I just wanted to add that also they sometimes respond by being exceptionally sorry about whatever rude thing they said and then they overapologize and make me feel really guilty… Thanks for any advice you can share!

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Elizabeth March 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

It sounds as though you’ll be moving into what I would consider a pretty bad situation – they call you stupid when you don’t agree?? One retort to the specific example you gave (people are saying bad things about you – most likely not true!) is to say, “Well, I’d rather not stoop down to their level. Just because they may be rude doesn’t mean that I want to be rude.”

But in general, I would just leave the room and retreat to your own space (or leave the house) when you’re being verbally abused. (That’s what it is, unfortunately.) Personally, if you could avoid living with your parents or minimizing the time there, you should do it!

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Jody March 1, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Kelly, I agree. If I speak up, I often get the remark “oh, you’re too sensitive.” One way to counter this tone is to ignore the tone and proceed with the project/conversation/whatever as if it had never occurred. In other words, as hard as it is, don’t feed the fire. If somebody makes snide remarks sometimes just giving the person a blank stare and silence works or at least gets the other person to back off until the project/conversation/meeting can be finished. I don’t know if there’s a “one size fits all” solution. I do try to not get drawn into it, because that brings me down to the other person’s level.

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Barbara March 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Kelly, This does not sound like a healthy situation but I would not retreat unless it is a topic you choose not to discuss. I would choose my battles carefully. If you do want to make a statement, I would quietly and clearly state your message. If confronted, let them know that it is ok to agree to disagree on certain topics. That you are an adult and should be allowed to share your thoughts with out fear of persecution. And if necessity calls for it I would gently remind them that not calling people names is on the list of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

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Back to Square One March 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I recently broke off my engagement just a few days before our shower. I am now receiving gifts from the registry that were purchased before this happened. I do/did not personally know many of the people he invited. Does he return the gifts or do I?

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Jody March 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Square One, are you still in contact with your ex-fiance for any reason? If so you could sort something out with him, and agree who returns which gifts. If not, and you have the giver’s information from the store, it would be gracious of you to return the gifts. There’s no reason to go into details, just say that you appreciate the person’s thoughtfulness, but the wedding will not be taking place so you are returning the gift they were so kind to give you both.

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Barbara March 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm

We went on a trip to an all-inclusive resort with friends. We sat together at the same table to eat after getting our meals from the buffet. One person was still getting his food and waiting in line for something special he requested. Where it was a buffet, my husband and I began to eat but we were soon scolded and told we were being rude not waiting for the other person to join us. Were we? I thought that it was only rude at a formal dinner, not a buffet.

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Joanna March 6, 2013 at 11:06 am

Certainly, it’s polite to wait til everyone’s returned to the table in order to start eating…however, if someone has opted for something special, that means he or she is single-handedly delaying the entire group because of that order. Really, you could look at it that he or she is the one being rude for that reason. So, I don’t think it’s a problem to just start when everyone else is back to the table…most likely, it’ll only be a matter of minutes anyways.

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Elizabeth March 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I agree with Joanna, and I do not think you were rude, Barbara, to start eating. I think a buffet is very different than a regular restaurant. At a restaurant, you are at the mercy of a server and a kitchen. At a buffet, everyone is free to get up and serve themselves. So, the awkwardness of sitting at a table where three of four people have been served, and the poor fourth person is starving but still waiting on his food, just doesn’t happen. People get up at buffets and spend as much time as they like perusing and choosing the food. Similarly, some may get up for seconds, and they may do so at different times. Some people like to start with salad and eat traditional courses (getting up to serve themselves each one), while others go right to their favorite dishes. There’s no way to ensure that everyone eats the same things at the same times at a buffet. I think the friends were rude to chastise you. No one is done any good by letting their food get cold.

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Brockwest March 3, 2013 at 3:07 am

Resort buffet: Yes, there was certainly an etiquette crime committed. The person who scolded you was in severe breach of etiquette. Scolding for perceived faux pas is much more serious than the actual faux pas.
In this case, you are at a buffet, at a resort, on vacation, in the heat, with flies and birds flying around. You eat you buffet as soon as you sit, and do not let your food get cold, old, or insected while someone is getting a special order.
If people can’t let down their hair at a resort buffet, then someone’s string is wound a tad too tight.
You did nothing wrong.

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