Open Thread

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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.


  1. Jim

    Q. 7 yrs. ago I lost a very close cousin. His wife showered me with his wardrobe which included a tuxedo. Soon his only child is getting married and she stated that the wedding will be black-tie. I feel it would be proper to silently wear his tux. Sub consciencesly thinking that perhaps a small part of him will be there to watch his daughter marry. I would like feed back as to thoughts of this being proper or improper.

    • Becky

      Ditto Alicia. Just this Saturday, my Step-brother walked me down the aisle in my late father’s tux. I think if your cousin’s widow had issues with someone wearing his clothing, she certainly would not have given it to a close relative where she might see it again…including the tux. I think the fact that you would be ‘silently’ doing it is a very respectful and proper approach.

  2. Amanda

    My daughter is getting married with no bridal party. There will be a sit down dinner with guests seated at 3 long harvest style tables. Are you please able to let me know how should guests be seated (including the parents of the bride and groom)?

    • Alicia

      Bride and groom can either have their own table or sit with one of the tables. Given three long tables I would put the bride and groom at one table and have each set of parents host a table. Generally for a long table the host and hostess sit at the head and foot of the table with guests alternating male female down the sides. But given a wedding one may consider putting the bride and groom together in the middle of their table.

  3. Katherine

    I recently hosted an event (my husband’s 30th birthday) that children were not invited to. The invitation was done through evite and specifically said “adults only, please.” Two friends brought their children anyway. This made things awkward for me, because several other guests had arranged for sitters. I am hosting a Christmas party that I host every year. These same friends are invited. Is there a tactful way to let them know that I am not inviting children? I don’t think they will read the details of the evite and it doesn’t seem tactful to spell it out at the top of the evite.

    I love children and we often host parties where children are invited. However, I have several reasons for not including children at this event so I would prefer not to get into the back and forth of whether or not you personally think not inviting children is polite. Thank you in advance!

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Personally, I would consider not inviting these people since they apparently can’t follow simple instructions. It is rude to say “please don’t bring your children.” However, if they mention bringing their children you can say “actually it’s not going to be a child-friendly party so you should take the night off from parenting and get a sitter.” To be more pro-active, you can ask people who live near them for sitter recommendations and call them saying “I know it can be difficult to find a sitter. I heard of a great one in case you needed help finding one for the night of the party.”

    • Jody

      Katherine — From my reading of your original post, it seems like these friends just showed up with their kids rather than let you know ahead of time they’d be bringing the kids. I’d suggest you put “adults only” in the evite with details of the party as it seems you’re planning on doing. I’d also keep an eye on the response list and, if these same friends reply “yes,” send them a private message reminding them nicely that it’s adults only and you won’t be able to accommodate anybody’s children. If they just show up with the kids again, be prepared to say that unfortunately you can’t accommodate children at that function. If these friends are that clueless or pushy about it you unfortunately may need to be pushy in return.

    • Alicia

      If they show up with their kids basically tell them that you are really sorry but the invite was not for kids and they will have to take their kids home and if they can come back that would be lovely but you are not prepared to host kids.

      • Becky

        If you do invite (evite) them and they reply that they will attend, you can send them a quick note that you are so happy they could get make arrangements for the kids this time so they could join your party…. Passive aggressive? just a bit, but it is a way to get the point across without outright saying, don’t bring your kids.

  4. Kay

    My husband and I are visiting his family for Christmas for the first time since we became married. His family lives a few states away so we will be flying to visit. I am feeling a little confused about how to handle the gift-giving situation since my husband has 5 brothers and their wives as well as 2 sets of parents, making a minimum of 7 gifts even if we give ‘couple’ gifts. We are just starting out in our careers so can’t exactly afford to fly or ship large packages, and I don’t feel like gift cards are all that personal. I’m sure we can’t be the first ones to deal with long distance gift giving confusion, so I’m wondering what do others do? Any ideas on smaller but meaningful gifts that travel well?

    • Ruth Peltier

      I am sure that others will have excellent suggestions for gifts that pack well but I am going to tell you what I would do if I were in your place. I would buy gifts for them online and have then sent to the address where you will be having your celebration. Most companies will gift wrap them for you or you could address them to yourself and wrap them when you get there if you want fancier wrapping. That not only frees you to choose pretty much anything it also saves you the problem of packing and dealing with extra luggage at the airport. Your big problem though might be getting back home with the stuff they give you but that is a whole different issue.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Really it depends on your husband’s family. You might want to suggest doing a Secret Santa type exchange where each person is randomly assigned one person to get a gift for. You can set the price guideline higher than what you would normally spend on each person and still spend less than you otherwise would have because you’re buying fewer presents. That also means you’ll have fewer presents to transport.

    • Nina

      Hmm, well, if it were me, I would simply ask my husband what he typically gives his siblings and parents for Christmas, especially when he’s been far away from them. Some families aren’t big on gifts, others put huge amounts of time/thought/$ into them. Sometimes in big families, some people exchange gifts and some don’t. I would not start my own gift list but rather follow my husband’s lead.

      In my own family-in-law, the siblings draw names and only buy one present each, and gift cards are totally acceptable. That is not at all how things are done in my family, but if I went and bought gifts for all my siblings-in-law without a thought for their traditions, I think they would justifiably find that a bit pushy and odd.

    • Alicia

      First ask your husband about what his family does for gifts. If presents what I would and have done is order online and have it sent to someone local and then when local run by dollar store and buy gift wrap and tape and wrap at family members house. But only if his family does a gift exchange.

  5. Anon

    This is an unusual Q. My mother in law is visiting for the past 3 months. It has been hell. She visits from another country, so the tickets cannot be changed. She still has a month to go. She is a neat freak- likes to have clean looking living room etc. She hides whatever is outside in whatever empty spaces she can find them. I am a busy person and have tonnes of paperwork, office files as often I work from home. I do not clean instantly but keep things inside when I have dealt with them whenever I have time.
    However, when I come back home, I find a very clean house where I have no idea where everything that I was supposed to deal with, is. Mother-in-law has no idea either. She does not take any suggestion/ criticism at all. I am not a child – am 42 years old, have 2 kids and work in a high pressure job but I am going crazy. Husband walks on egg-shells around his mother.
    Please help!

    • Elizabeth

      Anon, this is your house and your MIL is a guest. If your husband is not willing or able, you may need to lay down some rules for her to follow. Explain nicely that the papers in one particular room are your work and that she is NOT to touch them, ever. You will have to be firm. If she gets upset or has a tantrum, let her. Stay calm, be kind. I can imagine that being a long-term guest can be nearly as uncomfortable as being a long-term host. She probably feels limited, somewhat house-bound and dependent on you, possibly isolated if she doesn’t speak the local language. Perhaps the cleaning is her way of imposing her will and some order on a place where she doesn’t have much control. I don’t suggest this to excuse her, but to encourage you to be kind, firm and loving while also setting boundaries.

      • Joanna

        Oh wow, do I feel your pain! My family, too, is originally from another country and we often have had “guests” over the years who typically stay for about 3 months. (The reason I use quotes is that after a week or two, I do not feel a person is really a guest any longer, but more of a short-term resident.) With each and every person, no matter the relationship or how lovely they may overall be, there have been similar problems. I don’t know if it’s simply because the person is bored during the day (obviously, no one can take 3 months off work to entertain them) or just a personality quirk, but similar experiences always happen. In each case, one family member tends to advocate toward “just smile and keep your mouth shut, they’ll leave soon enough,” but 3 months is not exactly “soon enough” in my book, you know? So I have always spoken with the individuals in question, nicely enough but firmly, and in each case there have always been nods and “I totally understand,” but underneath, it’s clear that there are hurt feelings festering. So, long story, but I honestly I have no real advice to give. I get the feeling that your situation is much like mine, so while theoretically you’d want to say something, sometimes that may actually make things *worse*…

  6. Tara

    I was married this past Saturday and, although the day went fairly smoothly, we had one hiccup that caused quite a bit of hurt.
    My husband’s parents, who have always been kind and supportive towards me, and supportive (if highly critical) of my husband, had some kind of major fight before the wedding. My father-in-law did not attend our wedding at all; he chose instead to “go out for a walk”. My mother-in-law did attend, but was so inebriated that she made a fool of herself in front of our guests.
    They did provide us with a monetary gift that is not an insignificant amount of money, although it certainly doesn’t replace the fact that one parent didn’t show up, one was drunk, my groom was embarrassed and incredibly upset, and his sister spent the night in tears because she feels like her family is falling apart. I have never seen my in-laws fight, let alone get to this point before, and would never have expected my father-in-law to let us down like this. It’s been three days and we haven’t heard a word of apology or anything from them.
    My question is, how do I write a thank-you card for their gift? Do I acknowledge their behaviour? Do I return their cheque? I don’t know what’s appropriate here. I could certainly play the gracious bride and write a simple concise thank you, but I don’t think it’s fair to my husband to downplay the hurt he felt on an important day in his life.

    • Elizabeth

      You have some time before you need to send the thank-you note, so you might just hold off doing so until things with your ILs become more resolved. Any note at this point might be taken as communicating some deeper message, and your husband should really be communicating with them directly (phone, face-to-face) instead of on stationary. I’m sorry that they made such a scene at your wedding. It sounds like the fight was not about you, but has to do with something between them. So hard as it is, I would try not to take it personally. I think they are probably embarrassed and full of regrets.

      • I agree with both Alicia and Elizabeth. Treat the gift as a separate issue, and thank them accordingly. Your new husband (best wishes, by the way!) may wish to sit down privately with his father and let him know how hurt he was.
        It doesn’t sound like any of their drama was about you, so please don’t worry too much about it.

    • Alicia

      Well your husband should be writing a bunch of the thank you’s and so I would have him write the letters. Also one does not mention bad behavior in a thank you simply write the thank you for what you are thankful for. So the thank you can be for the money. The hurt and the pain is not for the thank you it is for an actual conversation or a separate letter.

  7. Karen

    Is it appropriate to get a gift for an Eagle Scout Ceremony? The young man did his Eagle Scout project at a community cemetery and another woman and I are going to his ceremony.

    • Becky

      Certainly…or even just a card of congratulations. But it is not necessary. It is such a rare achievement these days for a young man to achieve Eagle, it is nice to commemorate the occasion, even with a modest gift gesture. ‘eagle’ themed items are popular and there is an official BSA website for scouting stuff.

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