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. Debbie

    I gave my niece a table that belonged to my parents for her graduation from law school when she got a job and bought a home in Washington. She did not go to law school and the house was purchased by someone else. She lost the house and the table is in storage. Would I be wrong to ask for it back? It had great sentimental value to me, not value in terms of money,

    • Elizabeth

      Debbie, I’m slightly confused by the way you’ve worded it – you gave her the table for her graduation from law school, but she in fact did not go? And you only found out later?? I suppose the details surrounding the gift are anecdotal. Usually a gift is given for good, unless you said something to her when you gave it. Some people do give heirlooms with the caveat that if the person ever decides to get rid of it, they should return it to the giver. However, it is not clear whether your niece no longer wants the table, or simply no longer has a dining room to put it in. It sounds like this is is a relatively traumatic or unsure moment in her life, and she may not appreciate your request. You might broach the subject by saying just that, if she were ever going to get rid of it, you’d like it back. Or, you mention you’ve been thinking about the table, and that you might be able to help her out with some cash in exchange for it – sweeten the pot, so to speak.

  2. David

    Your niece seems to have enough on her plate right now. Surely she’s upset with her situation and to deprive her of yet something else could be hurtful, to say the least. She obviously values the table enough to store it, with hopes, I assume, of soon having a rightful place for it and herself. I think you might be adding to her misery if you even mention the table. I think you should have let it go when you gave it as a gift, not a reward.

  3. Denny

    The size of the church our son and his fiance are to be married in isn’t large enough to seat all the people that are planned to be invited to the wedding and reception. Is it rude to not have enough seating at the wedding for all invited guests? The reception hall is able to accommodate everyone just fine.

      • David

        Inviting fewer people is best, unless alternate seating could be arranged, such as folding chairs to dot the pews or create another row in the back. You wouldn’t invite more people to ride in a car than could fit.
        If an elderly or disabled person arrived with no seat available, it would be off-putting and an embarrassment. They could rightly think the reception would be equally chaotic and not attend.

  4. John

    During the WWII, my mother attended an etiquette class offered to the women at her college. She was taught to cut a piece of butter and lay it on the butter plate before passing the plate to the next person. Was this (or is this) a polite way of assisting the person to whom the butter plate is passed? Or might this be (as the family has always thought) possibly a wartime way of suggesting to the next person the amount of butter that he or she should take? Just curious – at her house even now, everyone in the family cuts the butter before passing the plate!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *