Open Thread

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.


  1. Maria Aloy

    I recently received two monetary gifts from a family friend, one for the birth of my son and a second very generous gift for our Anniversary. Unfortunately, our anniversary is still several months away. My husband and I have differing opinions about what to do in this situation. I’ve read that returning monetary gifts can be considered offensive, but this situation seems different. What do I do with the monetary gift and how do I respond to the family friend in a note?

    • Alicia

      Look at your whole outfit. Is there any way whatsoever someone could think it looks bridal? If yes pick new outfit. If no you are fine.

    • Lilli

      I’d just avoid it regardless of whether it looks “bridal” because these days it’s hard to tell what might be a wedding dress. Maybe she’s wearing a short white lace dress instead of a formal gown. I was at a wedding recently where at least 3 other ladies (ranging from teenagers to significantly older) all wore white outfits (again ranging from short dresses to a lacy sparkly pant-suit thing) and EVERYONE had a comment to make about their outfits and none of them nice. At a wedding it’s almost the default comment to make to people you don’t know well after discussing the weather and how happy the couple looks.

  2. Sally

    Is it common & proper etiquette & protocol to refer to someone who is the past of former holder of an important office of an organization or entity as “former” or “past” (secretary general of ______, or president of ______, or vice president of ________? Is it ever improper?

    • Hi Sally,

      When referring to political officers, people retain their title if it’s a title that more than one person holds at a time anyway. For example, Senator Smith will always be Senator Smith, even when her term is over. If the title is only ever held by one person at a time, then they do not retain that title, but can revert to any title they held previously. So when President Obama’s term is up, he would properly be Senator Obama once again, but there would be nothing wrong with introducing him then as “Senator Obama, former President of the United States.”

      For organizations, I would assume the protocol would stay the same.

      Hope that answers your question!

  3. Jack Brisbon

    At a recent birthday gathering for my uncle his sister (my aunt) asked who would like cake. I asked what kind it was, where upon my uncles wife said, “That is so rude! You never ask what kind of cake it is.” Is that right? I have never heard of that. What if someone was allergic to one of the ingredients. My wife says that the responsibility would be on my aunt who should have said,”We have such and such kind of cake. Who would like a piece” What is the proper thing?

    • Elizabeth

      There is nothing wrong with asking, though it would be easier for her to have announced it. You did nothing wrong.

    • I think in this case, as in so many, it depends on how you asked what kind of cake it was. If you aunt offered cake and you replied, “Uh, what kind is it?” That could be rude. If you said, “The cake looks great! What kind is it?” then you were fine. Tone is important (and easily misinterpreted)!

      • Joanna

        Or, if it’s truly just a possible allergic reaction someone is trying to avoid, just ask, “Are there any nuts/strawberries/etc? I’m allergic.” I really can’t imagine what kind of person would find rudeness in someone trying to avoid being seriously ill!

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