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. Jen Rice

    I have had ongoing disputes with my grandfathers wife about thank-you cards. I consider a heartfelt thanks over the phone to be more of a personal connection and more valuable than a written thank-you note, and was told by my grandfather that this was acceptable, but have been frequently criticized by his wife as being ungrateful for doing so, and she continues to demand a formal thank you note for every occasion. By now I feel that there would be less harm to the relationship if I were to not receive a gift at all–I appreciate being remembered and enjoy seeing a card, but feel that getting a cash gift is an occasion to express resentment rather than give a true gift. I know that a written thank you card is considered the best situation of all, but am I completely out of line in feeling that continuing to be harassed about this after making my preferences known is unfair?

    • Elizabeth

      You prefer to express your thanks over the phone, while your grandfather’s wife prefers them written in a card. Since a card is the gold standard of thanks (and, after all, they send your gift in a card), it seems like the best thing to do would be to thank the people who gave you a gift in the terms that they appreciate the most. Your preferences do not take precedence here, though I agree a call is a perfectly warm way to thank people. If you continue this battle, the gifts will most likely stop coming. Your grandfather may begin to resent you for causing friction with his wife.

      I should not, though, that a thank you note is NOT required for gifts given in person.

  2. Pamela

    A family member invited to my Christmas party declined, but sent gifts for some of those who did attend and some who did not. I was not one of those who received a gift from this person. Was this not incredibly rude?

    • Elizabeth

      Not necessarily. If this isn’t a family member that you normally exchange gifts with, then it wouldn’t make sense to expect one this year. How did this person send the gifts? With another guest, or via mail? Clearly, they felt the desire or obligation to purchase gifts for some people but not others. I can understand being hurt if you thought that you were exchanging gifts this year, and you had one for this person. But they don’t owe you a hostess gift for a party they didn’t attend.

  3. Julie

    My mother doesn’t like my holiday card because it has a picture of my self my husband, our married daughter (her husband) our grand baby and I our grown son. Mom says our daughter and her family should not be included in our card. Is this wrong?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      It’s fine to include a picture with them, but you should only sign your own name and your husband’s. If they want to express the holiday spirit, they can send their own cards.

    • Elizabeth

      I fail to see how it is any of your mother’s business who you include in your cards. People include all manner of photos and information in their holiday missives, from photos of animals to whole letters describing the goings-on of their families. I can see how it might be slightly uncommon, given that cards are normally sent from ‘households’ and your daughter and her family are not a part of your household. However, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ about including them, and your mother should MYOB.

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