Open Thread

by epi on April 3, 2014

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.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily April 3, 2014 at 6:53 am

Two questions about the implicit rules about behaviour at a restaurant/cafeteria. This conundrum is increasingly frequent given the fluctuating weather. For this reason, I tend to dress in layers and am faced with the need to increase or decrease the number of layers at the table.
So, is it okay to put on/take off a cardigan/blazer at the table? Or should I ask my meal companion for permission/ excuse myself to the loo each time?

Secondly, I usually take my blazer/outdoor coat off at the table. But I have noticed that some don’t. I cannot, of course, dictate someone else’s behaviour, but what is the acceptable norm?

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Elizabeth April 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with removing a sweater or blazer at the table. In a very crowded restaurant it may be awkward, but I can’t see anything wrong with making yourself comfortable in the environment in which you find yourself.

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Jody April 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Lily — I see nothing improper about wearing a blazer/cardigan at the table, or taking it off/putting it on (as long as you’re not flailing your arms about). Not everybody in a room will be comfortable with the room’s temperature; some will wear blazers/cardigans and some won’t.

As for the outdoor coat, I do think it should be removed when at the table, especially in a more formal setting. If it’s a very casual place (thinking fast food), though, I often see people wearing outdoor coats at the table and don’t think it out of place.

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Lily April 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Thank you for your thoughts, Elizabeth & Jody!

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Chava April 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

We recently had a birthday party at the local science center for our child. At the end of the party, my mother was holding the birthday child and my mother in law approached them. My mother said to the child, “Tell grandma thank you for coming to your party.” My mother in law was offended by this. She felt like it was condescending for my mother to thank her for coming to her own grandchild’s party, and that it meant she wasn’t part of the family if someone had to thank her for coming (in other words, of course she wouldn’t miss her grandchild’s party). I also found out that, at the birthday party two years ago at my house, my mother also said “thank you for coming” to my mother-in-law and it offended her at that time as well. I’m totally shocked that something as simple as “thank you” offended her so much. Is it inappropriate to thank “family” for coming to a party? Have I been saying “thank you” too much all these years?

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Elizabeth April 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Well, it sounds like your mother assumed the position of “host” when she thanked your MIL for attending. Do you think it would have been weird for your MIL to respond, “thank you for attending as well!” I don’t think it would have been strange for YOU to thank her for coming, since it is your child and you are hosting the party. However, for your mother to do it is another story. It is truly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but your mother was sort of implying that she was closer to your family and a “host” of the party while your MIL was just a guest. I can see why she wouldn’t like it.

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red April 8, 2014 at 2:48 am

When in laws and daughters and grandchildren are involved, it helps to know a bit of history. Some very seemingly innocent situations can be emotionally charged, and depending on past history, and tone, one may take offense. However, it seems like your mother might have just been teaching your child common manners, such as, “thank your guest for coming to your party.” Best to tread lightly.

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