Open Thread

by epi on July 9, 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.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

David July 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

We’re having a 50th Anniversary party for my parents and I just had someone emailed me saying they heard it was “no gifts” and wanted to confirm if that is true. Though we don’t expect anyone to bring gifts, after being married for 50 years, I think it’s ok. Also, my parents are planning a weekend trip to NYC where they had their honeymoon. If people contributed to that (money in a card) it would help them have an even better time since they don’t have a whole lot of money to spend. Of course, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to express that without it being completely tacky. Any ideas?

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Joanna July 9, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I don’t think you really can, especially if you’ve just said “no gifts”…what is a cash contribution toward their trip if not a gift?

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David July 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

We actually didn’t put “no gifts” on the invitations. Not sure who said that, but it wasn’t the party hosts. Does it just make the most sense to tell people “no gifts necessary”? That way, if they bring one, it’s fine…and if they don’t, that’s fine too?
Maybe I’m just overthinking it.

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Lilli July 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Where did they hear this from? If it wasn’t from a host or guest of honor then something weird is going on and in that case I’d laugh it off to people who ask and say “we hadn’t thought of it one way or the other – so do whatever you’re most comfortable and rest assured that your company is gift enough”

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David July 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Lilli,
That’s a great way to say it.
Thanks!

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Nancy July 11, 2014 at 1:19 am

I just got invited to a post wedding party. The bride planned a small wedding and invited very few people. But I have received an invite to the after party planned 3 months later and included on this invite post card was the registry. This registry has a breakdown of how they want to spend their honeymoon and how much money they will need. ( this breakdown shows how much they want in air fair, drinking money and trinket shopping etc… ( yes it really says that!)
Is this appropriate?

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Winifred Rosenburg July 11, 2014 at 11:48 am

No, it is definitely not appropriate. If it were me, I would respond “no” and not give a gift.

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Jody July 11, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Nancy, I don’t believe that’s appropriate. If a couple needs financial help to have a lavish honeymoon, they should scale down their plans and have a honeymoon they can afford — or save up and have the lavish honeymoon later. I’d say that you’re not obligated to go by the registry; if you want to give a gift, give only what you can afford.

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Vanna Keiler July 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Hi Nancy. I would guess it is not appropriate, or conventional, to hold this type of post-wedding reception. This feels more like a fundraiser than a celebration of life. If you’re not keen on contributing to the honeymoon costs, may I recommend sending a congratulations with a card (and gift, optionally) if not attending the after party, or just show up with a card/gift if you plan on attending? As others have pointed out on these threads previously, while it is not proper etiquette for us to correct other people’s flaws/errors, we need not go along with something presented to us which does not sit well or is inconvenient. We just can’t pass judgement, that’s all I suppose.

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Alicia July 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm

A post wedding reception is wonderful and allowed by etiquette.(I’m actually going to one this weekend) However, the mention of gifts on the invite is not nor is the cash registry.
Accept or decline promptly and graciously.

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Maddie West July 12, 2014 at 9:14 am

“As others have pointed out on these threads previously, while it is not proper etiquette for us to correct other people’s flaws/errors, we need not go along with something presented to us which does not sit well or is inconvenient. We just can’t pass judgement, that’s all I suppose.”

Then there is something I need suggestions for navigating. My in-laws have gatherings that are difficult for myself and a few others to attend… and then as hosts they complain and wonder why. FIL planned a surprise party for MIL, and commented in front of everyone that no one was eating the cheese-fruit-munchies. People then went over and began to partake, but it was very awkward because there were no plates or napkins or toothpicks! We were expected to use our bare hands. They know I have health issues and need a cooler climate, but didn’t cool down the house before I got there and I had to leave early because I was getting sick from the heat. (There are only so many clothes I can not wear?!) Another event had a beautiful day so the windows were open, and three other guests’ allergies flared uncontrollably, with no tissues in sight or no offer to close the windows. It’s always a feeling of ‘come rough it with us’ because they are notoriously frugal, and things like plates and napkins for munchies are seen as frivolous and pretentious. There are other little things that make these get-togethers and celebrations very – bumpy. I was taught that the comfort of my guests was the first thing. Their not being able to cool a house down for one day? If it’s not good etiquette to share this with them, what do I say when they wonder why I decline invites more and more often?

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Vanna Keiler July 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Hi Maddie. Yes, comfort of your guests is the first thing when entertaining people. But then, family are not just general people are they? Sometimes we are stuck tolerating their behavior for the sake of peace, which is what I would suggest in your situation. If you cannot stay very long due to nausea, etc. then leave after an hour or half an hour, and yes, visit less. And cite health issues as the reason. But do yourself a big favor and do not comment or criticize the host before, during or after the party. Tolerance in small doses may be the key for good family relations. :)

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Maddie West July 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

Thank you Maddie, but my difficulty with this is it flies in the face of how I was raised. ‘Be thankful you’re not the one who is infirm, and keep your mouth shut’. And then make sure they are made welcome and comfortable, because they don’t get to go out much. Is this an antiquated way of thinking? I guess I had it drummed into me.

Maddie West July 13, 2014 at 9:35 am

I just thought of another question in this same vein. A few years ago, I was talking on the phone with one of my in-laws, and mentioned I was thinking of having an open house for my husband’s birthday. With so many schedules to try to accommodate, my chronic health issues, not a lot of parking space, and in-laws that don’t get along with each other, I was going to have it catered with an array of small plate grazing foods, including the gluten/salt/sugar needs so people could come and go as they pleased. We have a small house but a larger yard, and weather depending it could have been very nice. There would have been things to do inside and out, and people could avoid each other if necessary. We rarely get to entertain and home doesn’t feel like home without a special occasion once in awhile. And we didn’t get to this time either, because after my idea my in-law said, ‘my family wouldn’t like that’. So I gave up and there was no celebrating my husband. No point if no one would come. Was my in-law correct here? If not criticizing a host is the thing to honor, doesn’t this count too?

Elizabeth July 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm

When dealing with in-laws, you actually can address things because you have a built-in middleman who can advocate for you and say things you cannot otherwise say: your husband. He could easily call his parents, explain your illness, and ask that they turn on the air for you. If I was asked to help myself to food with no serving utensil available, I might say “sure I’d love to, but do you have a fork or a napkin? I don’t want to put my hands all over the food.” In the case of the allergic person, did s/he come out and ask to shut the window? “I think the pollen just flared up and it’s really irritating my allergies, mind if we close the windows for a bit?” These are all reasonable requests.

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Maddie West July 13, 2014 at 7:40 am

Thank you Elizabeth. However, my husband won’t step in, he’s of the belief that the people having the conflict should handle it themselves. And on previous occasions, requests for ‘comfort’ were met with eye-rolling. Or, they were embarrassed that they didn’t know, then got bristly because it happened, they make it difficult to be discreet. Everyone’s business is everyone’s business, there is no privacy. It all just makes a special occasion feel less special somehow. But then, this is the group of people that when an etiquette question randomly was brought up by someone else, someone said I would know. I didn’t know but said I could look it up in one of my books. I was nearly laughed out of the room because I have etiquette books!

Vanna Keiler July 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Maddie, I think your idea of a birthday party sounded really nice. However, since you asked MIL her opinion, she gave it (right or wrong) and you chose, probably wisely, not to have the event. It sounds like with your health issues, the expectations on your part for a successful party would have been very high, since you would be going out of your way to make this party happen. Since your husband does not want to get involved with the family dynamics, you should just do what you are comfortable doing, and not expect others to change or follow any rules of etiquette. That way, you don’t build resentment over time. We cannot change others, much as we would like to and others would like to change us. Maybe next time scale down your party idea and just invite a friendly neighbor over for a cake-cutting?

lynn July 12, 2014 at 11:14 am

Do you need to tip a professional organizer post move?

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