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. Jody

    Here’s another tipping question from me. I’m having furniture delivered this weekend — I didn’t think it was appropriate to tip the deliverymen but I thought I’d check first. If it makes a difference, it’s not a case of huge items that they need to fight with in order to get them into my apartment, it’s a few flat boxes from a “you assemble it” place. I’m also on the ground floor so there are two small steps and not several staircases to negotiate.

    • Elizabeth

      Unless the delivery person went above and beyond (walking up 5 flights of stairs, or assembling a complex piece of furniture), you are under no obligation to tip. You paid for the delivery, and this kind of worker is not dependent on tips for their livelihood like a waiter would be.

    • David

      I think you should tip the delivery person,
      just as you would someone who delivered flowers or a pizza, regardless of how easy it is to access your home from the street. Of course you’re not obligated, but it has become a more common courtesy. I think $5 would be fine and greatly appreciated. These are often contracted (unskilled?) workers working on tight schedules and battling traffic, and, they’re doing manual labor in all weather. Be nice. : )

  2. Ann

    We just received a thank you note that didn’t actually acknowledge our gift, travel, presence, or anything else. It was personally written, but instead thanked us for ” advice”. I am unsure if the bride received our gift, or I wonder if she was unhappy with it. I was careful to check with recent brides that I work with to be sure to give an appropriate monetary gift. It was a lavish wedding.
    I am not sure how to handle this, including how to check if our check was received.

      • Ann

        The check was immediately deposited. The note was so curt that I wondered if the check had been stolen. It was for an amount in the hundreds of dollars, which may have been attractive to someone. I realize this is unlikely. I suspect that the bride was unhappy with the amount of the gift, which is so disappointing.

        • Elizabeth

          I can’t imagine anyone would be dissatisfied with a gift in the hundreds, no matter at what level of society or how lavish the wedding. I would contact the bride or groom by phone, whoever you know better, and say that you received the thank you note and just wanted to make sure they got your check. The wording about ‘advice’ is too weird. There has to be some misunderstanding.

  3. Penelope

    What is the appropriate response for a bridal shower that is to be held almost 1 year before the wedding? My mother and I feel this is inappropriate, but is this a new custom?
    The bride to be is marrying my cousin; they reside several states away (in a home they’ve purchased almost a year ago) and both families are in our state. The reason given for the early showers is that this is apparently the only time she’s able to get up before the wedding.
    Thank you,

    • Elizabeth

      One year in advance is not typical, but I’m not sure that it’s rude. Given the distance they have to travel, and the likelihood that they have other restrictions from their job, elder or child care, or simply availability of vacation time, I would guess that they’ve just chosen a convenient date. It would be churlish to refuse to celebrate just because of slightly unorthodox timing. I recommend that you attend and welcome this girl into your family.

      • Penelope

        Thank you. the bride is great and we love her. We do plan on going, but do wish the timing was better for the budget. It was planned for a week after another relatives baby shower, so there will be much overlap of family guests for both parties.

  4. Colleen

    How do you gracefully decline a dinner invitation to someone’s house. Initially I accepted but after seeing their house I don’t want to eat there. Their house is very unclean and frankly I’m afraid I’ll get sick from eating what they’ve fixed. I have a suppressed immune system due to medications that I take and don’t want to end up deathly sick or hospitalized because they don’t clean things well enough to accommodate my health issues.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Generally a person cannot change his or her RSVP once he or she has accepted an invitation. The only exceptions are for emergencies and illness. In this case I believe you can play the illness card. Please do not tell them it is because of their lack of cleanliness. Be as vague as possible to avoid hurting feelings while also avoiding dishonesty. If it isn’t too much of a stretch, it would be nice for you to let them know ahead of time that you won’t be able to make, like by saying that your illness has been flaring up and you don’t think you’ll be feeling better in time.

      I don’t know the nature of your illness, but if possible you should try to come up with a tactful way of explaining your needs before accepting invitations so you don’t end up in this situation again.

    • Elizabeth

      Colleen, if a home is so dirty that you fear foodborne illness, then it does not matter if you are immuno-compromised or not. No one would want to eat food prepared in a filthy place, and you do not have “special needs” for wanting to skip the planned meal. A basic level of cleanliness is not a requirement for the ill, it’s a requirement for decent people. I would not mention your illness at all, nor should you mention the real reason you no longer want to come. It would be insulting to say “Your house is dirty and I don’t trust the food you will prepare,” even if it is true.

      You should give a vague but plausible excuse as far in advance as you can manage it. A late meeting is now scheduled at work, and you can no longer make it. You’ve developed a migraine, come down with a sinus infection, you’ve had a flare-up of your actual illness – these are all plausible excuses that will not offend your host. Perhaps you’ve had a family emergency, or some minor calamity like a flat tire. Perhaps you have a family member coming in from out of town unexpectedly. The babysitter has cancelled on you, and you can’t find a replacement. Etc, etc. All you need do is politely back out, and it would be good to give your hosts as much notice as possible so they don’t buy food that will go to waste or what-have-you.

      Then, going forward, you just have to be unfortunately busy if and when they invite you again. Or, you can redirect by inviting them over to your house, or out to a restaurant. I think it would be much more awkward to try and bring your own food to their home. If you can’t think of a plausible excuse, just say, “I’m sorry, something has come up and I’m no longer able to make dinner on Friday. We’ll have to reschedule!” And then just never do.

    • Vanna Keiler

      Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go. And AVOID restaurants completely if you can, because food-borne illness can happen in the most upscale restaurants due to the amount of traffic coming and going through them, like a hospital. Some server or hostess or diner could be sick while in the restaurant. To decline the dinner, I would be very frank about your condition and tell them you were excited and not thinking clearly and realize you can’t actually dine out much due to your illness, that you monitor your food very closely and eat at home. If they get offended, it is regretful, but it may help them take a look at their home with new eyes and realize a little more “elbow grease” is in order, which could save their health! :)

  5. David

    I don’t like commenting on another contributors response, as a rule, but in this case I must say I agree entirely with Winifred (especially the last paragraph).
    If you would really like accept their invitation and are close enough to appear a bit quirky, you could say your doctor has you temporarily on such a restricted diet, consisting of exactly measured proteins, carbs, certain vitamin-rich substances and other odd things, that you’d like to attend bringing this “prescribed meal” in a take-out tray. Bring plastic utensils, bottled water and paper napkins, too. I’m just brainstorming and it may be a totally ridiculous suggestion, but there you are. Make it appeared precisely portioned and somewhat unusual. This may even provide a segue for a not too detailed discussion of your immuno-compromised condition and give them food for thought, as it were, for tidying up a bit for future invitations.

  6. colleen Buskirk

    That is exactly what happened Vanna. I haven’t visited or eaten at another persons house in 8 years due to all my health problems…weakened immune system, multiple chemical sensitivity, etc. I have not been able to be around other people much at all so I was excited to be invited by people that I talk to and that walk a lot on my street . It’s hard to get use to not visiting/eating at other’s houses because of all of my restrictions, allergies, etc. I’ve been social all of my life for 42 of my years and I’ve been pretty isolated for the last 8 due to my health problems so that is quit a change for me to be this disabled at 50. I have memory problems due to low blood sugar and migraines and at times this can affect my brain for days up to a week and my mind isn’t normally what it should be and that I have so many health issues that it’s hard to keep up with all of them. Winifred as far as your last paragraph…I do try to do this. I just want to explain how this happened. This is the first time that I’ve had to deal with this issue, made a mistake and responded as I would have before all of my illnesses and how I would have for the first 42 years that I have lived. Then I remember that I can’t do such and such now. I thank you for all for taking the time to help and for all of your tactful responses. It’s great to bounce things off of other people to get a variety of responses in order to decide how to handle this situation.

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