Open Thread

by epi on August 8, 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.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly August 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

I have looked all over online for an answer to my etiquette question and I can’t find anything! I would love some opinions on this.

My boyfriend and I are celebrating our 4 year anniversary next month. We are going to a nice restaurant to celebrate. Is it appropriate for me to bring his gift to the restaurant and let him open it at the table? It isn’t huge…it is about the size of a shoebox. If it is weird for an adult to open a present in public I don’t want to do it.
Thanks!!

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Alicia August 8, 2013 at 10:15 am

It is fine to open it in public assuming it is nothing embarrassing. So public or private based on your and his preference.

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Kathy August 8, 2013 at 10:46 am

People often tuck a check or cash into a sympathy card. Most are addressed to the family of the deceased and the cash goes to the family such as the surviving spouse. How should these contributions be handled if they are addressed to specific family members like the deceased’s child or parent?

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Elizabeth August 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

We just encountered this problem at my FIL’s funeral. Many checks were addressed to my MIL directly rather than the charity she specified. She is dealing with this by depositing all the checks and then making one big check out to the charity. She would also have been within her rights to keep it, though. So, the child or parent can either keep the money or they can pass it along to a charity of their choosing.

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Kathy August 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm

So you think it is ok for the deceased’s mother to keep whatever money came in cards addressed to her instead of giving it to the spouse to use for funeral expenses?

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Becky August 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

in that scenario (and not knowing the financial situation of either the mother or the widow(er)), perhaps a couple of suggestions. Mother can contact giver with thank you (in addition to written thank you ) and ask if they would like for her to get it to the widow(er) or special charity. they may have known the mother more and felt uncomfortable sending directly to the widow(er). Giver can then say yes or clarify that it was intended for the mother’s use. If it is known that the widow(er) is in a financial situation it would be most gracious to offer to them, or whoever may have a financial hardship/burden due to the death/funeral (including the mother). If that is not the case for either, personally I would have a hard time keeping it for myself – i wouldn’t be able to ‘enjoy’ it as if I was reaping ‘rewards’ from the loss. I would donate to a charity that my loved one or their spouse might appreciate.

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Elizabeth August 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Sorry, I didn’t quite understand the scenario. In that situation, it does make sense that the mother would give the funds to the surviving spouse, since that person would presumably be handling funeral expenses. My IL’s situation was different in that the spouse was given money directly when all donations were intended to go to charity.

It is possible, though, that money came to the deceased’s mother with a message similar to one that my MIL received: “Please use this money in whatever way you like to remember John’s memory.” In this case, they money is not specifically intended to offset funeral expenses (or intended to go to charity), but was given freely to the person. I mean, in all cases, the person who is gifted with the money ultimately has the right to decide what to do with it. The “right” thing to do would be to hand it over to the spouse, but it’s not something that would hold up in court.

Whether you are the mother or the spouse in this scenario, I would not make a big deal about the money unless you are really desperate for it and just concentrate on getting through your grief. You have my condolences. People do act a bit nutty during times like that, so I would encourage you to cut the other party slack and not worry too much about it.

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Syd August 9, 2013 at 8:09 am

I am stooped on what to do with this:

My best friend is pregnant and I want to host a gender reveal for her and her husband along with her close family members and friends. There will only be about 20 of us, and I have spoken with the mom-to-be and she wants to meet at a local restaurant in a side room area. I had planned on providing the desserts for everyone, however, I don’t want anyone to be thrown off when they have to pay for their own dinner. It would simply be too much for me.

Is this tacky/rude to invite people to a gender reveal (no gifts) where they have to pay for their own meal, but dessert will be provided? Also, how would I word this on the invitation?

The ideal situation would be everyone meets for dinner and socializing, then the happy couple cuts into a cake/something to reveal the sex of their child, and then everyone chows down on some yummy desserts and discusses the news.

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Just Laura August 9, 2013 at 9:30 am

Is this tacky/rude to invite people to a gender reveal (no gifts) where they have to pay for their own meal, but dessert will be provided?

Yes, although it sounds like you’re trying to be a nice friend.

Also, how would I word this on the invitation?

You won’t.

When a person hosts a party, the host(ess) assumes the cost of the party. Perhaps have this party during lunch, when food is cheaper, or work with the restaurant to have a prix fixe menu that is more modestly priced. Have you asked this restaurant if you are allowed to bring in outside dessert and serve it? Many times local health codes prevent this.

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Elizabeth August 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I would skip the restaurant and host the party at your home where you can control the costs and allow the guests to be guests.

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Becky August 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

to be blunt, i think it would be tacky/rude. Though it is nice to consider the honorees’ wishes (restaurant), you can only offer what you are able to host. For the honoree to do more than merely suggest ideas would be just as rude. Couple of options….ask a couple/several of the other of the 20 to see if they would be interested in co-hosting, and consider a venue that a variety of appetizers could be ordered to share rather than full meals. If you are doing it on your own…is there a venue that is dessert only, such as ice cream shop, cup cake shop? at that type of a location there may be little to no expectation of more than dessert. Or, do just don’t do it in a restaurant and do the kind of party you can afford, with a gentle explanation to your friend. “I’d love to be able to do it in a restaurant, but if I’m the host I would like to do it right, so this is what I am able to do right now….” If the honoree has a problem with that offer, they can simply decline and honestly, you will have better insight into the kind of ‘friend’ you have.

As a last thought and a different tact, perhaps you are not “hosting” a party, but organizing a gathering? Hosting is hosting and nothing but attendance is ever asked of a true guest. ‘Organizing a gathering’ on the other hand doesn’t give you the honor “title” of host, or the obligations, but probably achieves your goal without the faux pas of impersonating a “host”. That approach would be very informal and would not include printed invites (so no worries about invitation wording), perhaps group email or phone calls, “Hey, let’s all meet at….”

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Cyra August 9, 2013 at 11:29 am

Becky’s totally right. Hosting an event and arranging an event are two different things, and in this situation you could do either. Either host what is within your means or arrange a get-together with all of your friends–but mixing up the two ideas is always tacky.

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Aggie August 12, 2013 at 8:23 am

I recently went to a baby shower…The invitation said 1pm..I got there at 12:30pm to see the mother-to-be on her way out to get her nails done..I stayed there, helping her husband to finish the cooking for the guests…Finally I left at 3pm without a baby shower event…When I asked her why the baby shower wasn’t held at the designated time she said to me that she knew it would not be at 1pm because other people were still showing up…so don’t you think that if she already knew this that the time on the invitation should state a different time?

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Elizabeth August 12, 2013 at 10:35 am

Aggie, what a weird situation. Did you get the sense that the time had been changed, and everyone told but you?? Or is the family just “known” to be late, so a 1pm start time really means 3? All events should start at the posted time, and guests should be there on time so as to allow that to happen. I would distance myself from people like this!

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Aggie August 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Yeah I agree…this is not the first time it went this way…It just seems to be very rude…I have no idea what time the so called baby shower started but it’s just rude…Time for me to move on I guess…Thanks for responding to me Elizabeth…

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staycee August 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I did not even get the invitation till the day before. I did not go. But for the same family members I gave them a wedding gift and did not get a thank you not even a in general facebook thank you so I had no plan on going any way. Oh and they did not even have my last name on the invite……….. NO THANKS!!!! RUDE AS RUDE!!!!!

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Breana August 14, 2013 at 9:59 am

I have am currently having a dilema… I recently moved out of state and right after I did I found out that my husband and I are having a baby :-) . We are going back to California for Thanksgiving and our moms are planning a baby shower. My thing is as much as I would like a lot of baby gifts (this is our first and we need EVERYTHING)… I don’t want to have to ship them off to Texas. Nor have to take everything back to then buy here. Is ther a polite way to tell them on the invitation that we appreciate big presents be shipped or that they give gift cards?

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Alicia August 14, 2013 at 10:56 am

Congrats. No there is no way to say that. However people who will be there know where you live and will likely give smaller gifts gift cards and ship gifts and give you tokens that represent them. ( a group of friends of mine just gave a crib to a friend having a baby that lives across the country. At the actual shower we gave her dollhouse crib to signify the real crib that was getting delivered to their house in a week. ) People have sense and your moms can remind them of their good sense but that is about all you can do. Pack light for thanksgiving so have some room to take things home.

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Julia August 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

Q: I am part of a 10-person office. I just found out that everyone else except me and another coworker has been invited to our coworker’s baby shower this weekend where they will present a gift from the office. The shower is being hosted by a mutual coworker and the mom-to-be’s sister. Apparently the lack of invite was at the request of the mom-to-be, which totally surprised me because I thought we were on great terms, even going together to lunch as a group often (but she gets moody, so we never know how she’s going to act). My boss, assuming this was a company thing, started a collection and just emailed all of us to kick in $35 for the gift. I’m ambivalent. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not a little embarrassed/hurt at the slight, but now I’m sort of thinking that my money could be better spent elsewhere than on my coworker’s fourth child. Should I feel obligated to pitch in?

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Alicia August 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

No you do not need to pitch in. Actually technically a 4th child should not be getting a shower as the mom to be should be using stuff from first 3 kids.
However, you may want to get to the bottom of the slight just so you know what the issue is and how to mitigate it job wise.

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Elizabeth August 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm

If you are not invited to the shower, you are not on the hook for the shower gift. If your boss is not aware that you haven’t been invited, you should let him/her know. “Boss, it’s very nice that you’re organizing an office gift for CoWorker’s shower. However, I have not been invited to that shower, so it does not seem appropriate for me to contribute to the gift.” If your boss does know, then I would just ignore the email.

I understand your being hurt/embarrassed, but this really reflects poorly on the mom-to-be and not you. You did say that she is known for being moody and unpredictable, so this just confirms that she’s an unstable and apparently vindictive person. She is sowing the seeds of discord in your office, and that’s bad on her. I would not approach her and ask ‘what you did’. You may have not done anything. That would just be giving her the satisfaction of asserting her power in this little office dynamic. Hold your head up high, and just ignore the event.

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