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Founded in 1946 by Emily Post and her son Ned, The Emily Post Institute, Inc. (or EPI for short), promotes etiquette in America and around the world.  Spanning five generations, this family business maintains and evolves the standards of etiquette that Emily Post established with her seminal book Etiquette in 1922.  Manners change over time and vary depending on location and culture.  The Emily Post Institute studies this evolution and develops new manners guidelines based on core principles of honesty, respect, and consideration.

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{ 256 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy Hurley May 26, 2009 at 9:17 am

If a couple is not married and are expecting a baby, should a shower be thrown for the expectant mother?

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Daniel Post Senning May 26, 2009 at 2:16 pm

It is fine to throw a shower for a single woman or an unmarried couple.

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Nina Bailey June 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Is there a traditional or modern list of gifts for birthdays as there are for anniversaries? If not, would the anniversary list be appropriate to follow? What would be the general rule of thumb?

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Daniel Post Senning June 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm

There is not a list of traditional gifts for birthdays like there is for anniversaries, although one could use the one as a creative guild for the other. The following web address has a great chart for getting this information – http://www.happy-anniversary.com/year-of-marriage/index.html. I have also seen some very creative lists of ways to interpret various anniversary gifts so as not to break the bank when shopping for a loved one. One was a list of modern tech. gifts including things like the BlackBerry Pearl as a possible substitute for the 30th – pearls anniversary gift.

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Tracy H. November 23, 2009 at 7:25 am

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I will see many family members whom I haven’t seen in awhile. Due to health reasons, my mom will not be attending the Thanksgiving celebration. I am anticipating receiving questions about how she is doing. I really do not wish to discuss this topic. How do I politely and vaguely answer their questions and avoid this topic of conversation?

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Graceandhonor December 15, 2009 at 5:26 am

It would be gracious and kind of you to treat all three children equally, though I can understand your feelings. I hope, if you do, that they will quickly formalize their family arrangement and that your bond will grow and when it does, you and them become us. You sound like a wonderful, giving lady with more than enough love to go around.

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Carolyn B January 5, 2010 at 6:38 am

That’s where I’m really puzzled…I have opened my arms & heart wide to these children over the years and have a deep relationship with them.

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Graceandhonor January 5, 2010 at 8:48 am

Dear Carolyn,

I am sorry you have been hurt. It is up to your boyfriend to handle this situation with his mother and his family and their insensitivity to your comfort. While it is not unusual for ex-wives to be at family gatherings, your situation is different in that you had nothing to do with the break-up of his marriage and are being unfairly treated by his mother. However, his mother (and ex-wife) may have hoped for a reconciliation and when you arrived on the scene, that door closed, thus her hostility? Regardless of this, your boyfriend owes you allegience in the here and now. I would suggest opening the gifts, and be sure to write charming thank you notes for them. Maintain a pleasant demeanor with his family (and continue your positive relationship with his children), regardless of how they treat you; act like a lady throughout this and wait to see if your boyfriend rises to your defense; at a minimum, he needs to have a talk with his mother about being inclusive of you. If he doesn’t, it is time to consider your options to pursue well before the family Easter dinner arrives. You are in my thoughts today.

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Carolyn B January 5, 2010 at 9:12 am

Thank you for your encouraging words!

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Carolyn B January 5, 2010 at 6:32 am

I have a dilemma. A few days before Christmas my boyfriend of 5 years contacted me at work to inform me his mother invited his ex-wife & mother of his adult children to our annual Christmas celebration. I have never met this woman before, and due to the hostility in his divorce I felt it was a very inappropriate time to be introduced to her for the first time. I brought this to his mother’s attention and explained my feelings to her and now she isn’t speaking to me and has accused me of breaking up the marriage, though they were separated for over a year before I even met him. His mother has previously excluded me from parties & events that the ex-wife was attending also. This has hurt me and devastated me as I ended up spending Christmas at home alone while his family enjoyed themselves with holiday festivities. I do not know how to handle this. Additionally, they sent my boyfriend home with a couple Christmas gifts that evening to give me. They remain unopened and I don’t want them in light of the way I was mistreated and disrespected. Any advice on this one?

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Julia January 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Carolyn, I’m no expert, but I think it’s your boyfriend’s obligation here–they’re his parents. You should gently but firmly tell him how you feel, and more importantly, that it’s his obligation to make it clear to his parents that he’s with you now, by his choice, and that they should respect this and plan accordingly. Holiday plans get sticky especially when children are involved, which you seem to respect, but his parents are stuck in the past and are viciously criticizing you out of a problem your boyfriend could have ended long ago by being firm about his life now. As for last minute invitations by guests of yours, I think the only thing you can do is suck it up and think of some lively, neutral topics of conversation for the guest in question–then hope that the rest of the family will deflect any awkward situations. 5 years is not a fling, and I think you have some say in the matter, which your boyfriend should respect, and it would also help stem any other resentment that might grow in the future. Perhaps with a thank you note to your boyfriend’s parents (I’m afraid sending the gifts back without proper communication would make matters worse) you can kindly thank them for being supportive of their son’s choice to be with you, and that you will enjoy the gifts. Much luck in the coming new year!

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Elizabeth January 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I agree with Julia – your problem has totally to do with your boyfriend and no one else. Instead of calling you at work to “inform you” that his ex had been invited to your home for your holiday party (!), he should have cut off his mother in her tracks and informed her that she is not eligible to invite people since it wasn’t her party. He should have then insisted that his mother call back the ex and explain to her that she was actually not invited. As for the holiday parties you’re not invited to, well your boyfriend should let his family know that he is part of a couple now and will not be attending any social events without, end of story.

Stick to your guns, or they’ll walk all over you!

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Ruth Hinton March 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I want to have a 70th Birthday Roast for my husband. He has retired from being a chief pilot for a corporation. I want to invite the pilots & mechanics without their spouses. But the CFO will bring his wife, the retired chief mechanic will bring his wife, the admin girl will bring your spouse.

My husbands 2 daughters, 2 grand daughters, brother & wife, brother in law & wife.

This will be a dinner party, which my friends, which include both sexes, will be helping with the decorating, cooking, serving & cleaning up & participate in the roast too.

Because I have a large list, how do I handle the co workers spouses NOT being invited? I have already rented the room.

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Daniel Post Senning March 8, 2010 at 11:25 am

This is a difficult situation. As you seem to know, usually spouses are invited to social functions. It is problematic, for all of the reasons that you mention, to invite some spouses and not others. If you do not have the resources to host everybody he has worked with, you might decide to only invite those from work who your husband was particularly close to. You might also suggest or help plan some sort of smaller function centered around the workplace or a work-lunch-outing for those who have worked with your husband, but who don’t have family who know him as well, to deliver their own 70th roasty barbs.

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bonnshack April 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Met friends while traveling internationally. They are passing through our area and would like to meet us for dinner. We had a very good time with them when we were on vacation and agreed to meet them for dinner. We have purchased a few things to give them as gifts that are from the area in which we live. However, I would like to know if we should offer to pay for their dinner?

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Graceandhonor April 7, 2010 at 3:44 am

They are guests in your area, and it would be the gracious thing to do. Show them some American hospitality.

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Diana M May 3, 2010 at 7:15 am

I am a mother of the groom and because my future daughter in-law lives out of town there are going to be 3 bridal showers. One given by the bridal party, which I can not attend, a Jack and Jill which I will be there for and another which I will give.

Question?? I will be sending a gift to each of the showers, but I am not sure what to give at each. I purchased 8 place settings of the china – Do I give that at my shower and a smaller gifts at the others? Or should I give 4 place settings at my shower, the other 4 at the bridal party’s shower and something different at the Jack and Jill shower.

Uggh! The bridal pary’s shower is this weekend. I’m desperate for some advice!!

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Graceandhonor May 3, 2010 at 7:49 am

You do not need to send a gift to a shower you do not attend. If you do wish to send something anyway, perhaps a place setting of their everyday china or tableware. Your purchase of their fine china is substantial, and you may want to give that as your wedding gift to them. I’d suggest bed and bath linens for the shower you host; quality bed linens are expensive and they’ll use them for years. As for the J&J shower, give them something they’ll both derive use from, but focus it toward your son, i.e. a gas grill or lawn mower or season tickets to a sports team, etc. or something simpler such as barware or a decanter. Hope this helps, and hang in there, Mom!

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Diana M May 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

Thanks, it did help!

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Maddy T September 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

My wedding photographer offers the service of documenting the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner. I think this is a fantastic idea where he will be able to capture my closest friends and family members all together in a much more casual, intimate setting. My mother completely agrees, but she has now decided it is appropriate to ask my fiance’s parents to pay for the photographer being at the rehearsal. They will be funding the rehearsal dinner completely. My fiance’s parents are very frugal (not financially struggling at all) and I am uncomfortable asking them to cover an expense that I consider a luxury & something untraditional. It was difficult enough to request alcohol be served at the rehearsal dinner (a must in my family, his family does not drink). Is it appropriate for my mother to want his parents to pay for the photographer being at the rehearsal? How should I handle both my mother & his parents in this situation?

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Shirley September 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm

A few of us want to give a surprise birthday dinner for someone’s 60th birthday. None of us is able to host at our homes and want to do a surprise party for the honoree at a restaurant. However, none is us financially positioned to pay for everyone’s dinner. Is there a polite way to invite the honoree’s friends/family and let them know it’s “Dutch Treat”?

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Melissa September 26, 2010 at 2:08 am

5 days ago, I extended a long-promised invitation to another family to join us at our vacation home for a long weekend in a couple of weeks. The mentioned they had originally intended to go somewhere else that weekend but they would let us know. I don’t have an answer yet, despite the fact that I followed up the original invitation with a call 48 hours later. How long should I wait before calling them again? Should I give them an ultimatum (answer by Tuesday)? What if they still don’t RSVP? We have other friends we would like to invite if this family doesn’t want to accompany us.

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Graceandhonor September 27, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Give them one more call, saying, “I wanted to get back with you again to find out if you are coming next weekend.” If they still can’t affirm, say, “I really need to know by this afternoon, because if you aren’t coming, we want to invite someone else.” You shouldn’t feel held hostage by non-responsive potential guests.

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Julie October 12, 2010 at 2:50 am

I’ve been invited to a Bat Mitzvah of a cousin I have never met. Her grandmother is my first cousin, but I rarely see or talk to her. The invitation included a dinner/dance/celebration in the evening, as well as the morning Bat Mitzvah service.

I will not attend either event and want to know if etiquette requires that I send a gift. Thank you.

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Graceandhonor October 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

While your cousin’s Bat Mitzvah may not require a gift if you are not attending, wouldn’t it be thoughtful to send a small one anyway?

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Sheryl Poirier November 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Regarding etiquette when dining in someone’s home, is it okay to finish a bowl of say, mashed potatoes? Or would you leave a little in the bowl hoping the hostess will notice and refill it?

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Graceandhonor November 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Always leave some of the food in the bowl; one doesn’t want to appear greedy. If the hostess doesn’t refill the bowl, it is probably because there isn’t anymore.

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Sheryl Poirier November 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm

When picking up a place card at a business function, would you set it on the table with your name facing you or others at the table? I realize that sometimes the place card indicates your meal choice and then should face you, however when networking at a business function, would you turn the place card around so others can see your name? This is understanding that the name is not printed on both sides. Thank you.

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Graceandhonor November 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I cannot locate information on this particular use of place cards at business functions, Sheryl, but turning it for others at the table to see your name makes perfect sense.

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Sheryl Poirier November 4, 2010 at 5:59 pm

What do you do if you take a drink of wine and leave lipstick on the glass?

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Graceandhonor November 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Nothing, other than try to continue drinking from the same spot; otherwise, the glass might look unpleasant to others at the table by the time the drink is finished.

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Sheryl Poirier November 4, 2010 at 5:59 pm

What is the notch for on the butter knife?

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Graceandhonor November 5, 2010 at 2:49 pm

The notch serves a couple of purposes; it is where to rest it on the butter dish, thus keeping it from falling into the butter or on the table covering and making a mess. Sometimes they are simply decorative.

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Laura November 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Hello
My family and I are attending my cousin wedding in South America. My 2 daughters and 2 nieces will be flowers girls. Since my daughters were the first contacted I bought the dresses, cardigans and head pieces for all the girls and I thought it would be nice to give as a present to my nieces. My cousin offered to pay for all the dresses, but I do not want her to do it. I was thinking in telling her that outfitting the girls will be our wedding gift. Is that o.k? Or do you think it will make her uncomfortable?
I really do not want to get into “you owe me this or that” with my family members and I am fine with paying for the clothes, but there plane tickets to pay too…
Or should I give her a wedding gift anyway?

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Graceandhonor November 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

It is kind of you to pay for the wedding apparel for your daughters and nieces, and while there is no rule for this particular instance, I would encourage you to give your cousin a wedding gift, unless she states not to do so upon finding out you are buying the apparel. Safe travel and happy times to you and your family, Laura.

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Ginny Taylor November 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I have a question I hope someone can answer for me. My sister is having a 50th birthday party. She doesnt want gifts just gift cards. Can I put this on the invitation and how would I word it.

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Graceandhonor November 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

No mention of gifts should ever occur on an invitation. If someone asks, tell them, but otherwise, your sister should respond gratefully for whatever she is given.

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Brooke November 27, 2010 at 4:42 am

I am puzzled about some Christmas card etiquette. My ex (with whom I am still on good terms) recently got engaged. The couple is not living together, and I have never met the fiancée. Do I address the Christmas card to just him, or do I include her as well? Also, is it appropriate to continue sending his parents a Christmas card?

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Graceandhonor November 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Best you quietly back off and trim your list of your ex and his parents. If you run into your ex around town, wish him happy holidays then.

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Jacquie January 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Hello, I will be hosting a shared communion party for my daughter and niece. I wanted to know the proper way of sending out the invitations. Not all of the guests know each girl. We don’t want people to fell obligated to bring gifts for the individual that they don’t know. Do we need to send out three sets of invitations? One set to each side of the family and the other to family and friends that would have been invited if we had seperate parties. Thank you.

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epi February 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

The best way to communicate your desires about the way gifts will be handled at at a party is by word of mouth. Ask friends and family to spread the word exactly the way you have described the situation here. The only mention of gifts that should appear on an invitation would be a very discrete “No Gifts Please” request. I imagine that some people will want to bring gifts for both children regardless of who they know better. Good luck with the rest of your planning.

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Jennifer March 18, 2011 at 4:01 am

I am currently doing kitchen and bathroom renovations to my apartment and in the process I had to look for the usual suspects – contractor, plumber and electrician. I was able to find a contractor and plumber from recommendations and then needed to find an electrician. I work in a big company and I know and am friendly with my company’s electrician so I asked him if he knew any electricians or was able to recommend anyone. At the time one of the company’s contracted electricians was on premise doing work so our electrician brought me to speak with him to see if he would be able to help me out. The contracted electrician accepted the challenge and decided to help me with my home project. Since I live in a co-op I needed to have papers (license, insurance, permit) drafted and [minor-work] permit filed with the city. This guy now became “my electrician” and was committed to my project. When mentioning costs of the job he says “don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it”. A bit later we kept in touch about the project (since I was waiting for co-op approval) and I had emailed him again about the paperwork and also mentioned to him to provide me with an estimate for the work. He, who happens to be the owner (or the son of the owner?) of the electric company, answered my email about the permit, etc. but didn’t say anything about the cost of the work.
The renovation has since started and I have identified some fixtures I am thinking about (but have not committed to yet) so I’m thinking that I will broach the topic of ‘how much will all of this cost me?” again when I ask him how much all the fixtures will cost. No doubt I will be paying for fixtures but if he decides to not charge me for the labor costs, what do I do?
The electrician working on my job btw is one of his guys, and not him himself.
So, my question is what do I do if he decides to not charge me for the labor? It’s not exactly a small job (as far as I can tell) – need new outlets, run lines, under/over cabinet lights, etc.
Would cash or gift certificates be appropriate? or should I “demand” some sort of estimate? It makes me feel uneasy in a way to accept help from someone “we” work with but if there is a way to be gracious and respect both party’s wishes that would be best.
Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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Graceandhonor March 18, 2011 at 4:36 am

Jennifer, I do admire your positive outlook in concluding you need to know what to do when your electrician you barely know decides not to charge you for the labor of his employee! While this is primarily a business issue, there are some ethical implications as well. Having had a commercial design business for years and dealing with major contracts and tradesmen, I can tell you it is very unsound business practice to engage a contractor without a written agreement outlining the scope of work and what you will be charged. You should not have allowed the work to start until this was done, nor let it continue until this is done. I am afraid you are setting yourself up for a contentious conclusion. Simply call him tomorrow and state your discomfort over no written agreement will not allow you to let the work continue until you have that agreement and stand firm. If he states he is not going to charge you, that should alarm you, too, as unless he is the patron saint of electricity, he has incurred expenses on your behalf that you should not allow and wonder why he has taken such an interest in gifting you this way. If this is the case, get an estimate from another contractor (and pay for it) and write your guy a check for what they quote. A check or moolah, but no, not a gift certificate. Imo, it is poor business practice for him to conduct this job in this way and unethical for you not to pay him, particularly in view of his relationship as a contractor to your employer. I know of someone who lost his job as a V.P. of a major corporation over an identical scenario; your employer could view this as a kickback or unjust enrichment for you, so I encourage you to take care of this immediately.

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Pam April 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Is it okay not to invite my sister-in-law’s parents for Easter Dinner?
My sister-in-law’s parents are a well to do couple that have absolutely no tact. They fight or nag my sister-in-law continuously, while all other holiday guests try not to notice their offensive behavior and crude language.
Normally, my sister-in-law hosts Easter, but this year she has passed on hosting; now she wants to know where everyone is going for the holiday so she can let her parents know where to go.
The fighting is getting worse now that retirement allows them to attend more family events. The family has endured this for more than 15 years at least once a year. This year we may have to spend four or more holidays under these conditions. My mother-in-law has had a few conversations with my brother-in-law about the situation, but it has gotten worse instead of better. Very passive-aggressive toward the family. My sister-in-law now waits to see who is hosting a holiday meal before she declares her parents’ plans and then she automatically assumes they may join the family meal.
My husband and I like having holidays at our house because we do not mind extending an invitation to both sides of the family, but now my brother and sister will not attend any holiday event that must be shared with my sister-in-law and her family, which is most.

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Graceandhonor April 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

You have several options. 1. Declare dinner for your family only and no extended in-laws. 2. Tell their daughter she has to read the riot act to them and only then may they come. 3. Do as your group has always done and include them as usual, thus alienating your brother and sister. 4. Issue heartfelt invitations in the spirit of the season and convey to everyone your wishes that everyone will be gracious at your Easter dinner and that everyone will come. 5. Book the weekend in St. Bart’s.

I vote for #2 and #4.

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Grammie April 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Our daughter an son-in-law are due to have a son in a few months. Her husband is a junior, and his father is alive. The family differentiates between the two by calling the son by his middle name. My son-in-law and his father want to call the new son the “third”, and believe that means the child must be given their exact name. My daughter would like to use a different middle name (same initial). Would it be possible to still call a child the “third” if their name is not exactly the same as the previous generations’ shared name? It sure would offset a bit of a dispute.

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Graceandhonor April 11, 2011 at 10:48 pm

The Third (III) should only be used when he is indeed the third one to have the same name; otherwise it makes no sense. They could give the child a nickname or call him Trey.

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Erin April 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm

My husband and I are getting ready to have our first child. What is the appropriate way to send a thank you for baby gifts? Should stationery have the baby’s name or mine since the letter will actually be written by me? Should thank you’s ever be written from the Baby’s voice?

Thank you for your help!

Erin

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Graceandhonor April 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm

You should write the thank you as the mother of the baby using your own stationery.

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Alicia April 19, 2011 at 8:40 am

The thank you notes should be written in either of the parents handwritting and in their voice. You can say something like little baby emily just loves the soft blanket for her naps. Parents should continue to write thank you notes for children until the kids are old enough to write their own. A good 2-6 year old middle step is the kid making a thank you picture and the adults in teh kids life writting the thank you note. Then it goes to the kid signing their own name on the thank you note. Then the kid is writting and the adult proofreading then finally the kid is writting these notes all on his or her own.

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Lisa June 4, 2011 at 11:44 am

My family has been invited to a joint birthday party. We only know one of the two teenagers being honored. Should we take a birthday gift for both of them or is it alright to only take a gift for the one we know?

Thank you.

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Alicia June 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm

It is ok to take a gift only for the one you know if and only if you give it to the birthday honoree not in front of the other honoree.

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Susan June 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I am getting married on the beach (think sand, literally). What would be appropriate/proper as far as shoes are concerned? Is it inappropriate for the bride to walk down the “aisle” barefoot as well as the groom and all attendants?

Best, Susan

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Just Laura June 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm

As someone who lived on a beach, I can assure you that forcing your bridesmaids to negotiate the sand in heels is far more inappropriate. If you choose to walk sans shoes, I’m sure you’ll be lovely, and have better balance. :)
Watch out for shells.

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Susan June 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Thanks Laura. Heels were definitely out but what about flip flops or flats?

Best, Susan

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Just Laura June 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

There are some really cute bridal flip flops out there, including some with little embellishments and others that say “Just Married” on the bottom (they leave fun tracks in the sand). My only problem with closed-toe flats or peep-toes is that sand has a way of getting inside them and making your already sweating foot very uncomfortable (not to mention it will ruin the inside of the shoe). I say go for sandals/flops, or leave the footwear behind and just adorn your foot with a little toe ring.

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Alicia June 21, 2011 at 7:13 am

Barefoot is appropriate on a beach as are sandals or flats boat shoes like sperry topsiders would be another cute choice. However, please please do not tell your bridal party that just because you are comfortable going barefoot that they should. Barefoot on sand can be hot and burning to feet. Additionally although some folks find them very comfortable some find flip flops painful and alkward. Let the bridesmaids and groomsmen know that it is sand and that they will have a choice of whatever footwear or lack matches their outfits and they feel comfortable in.

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Ernesto P. Garcia July 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

To Whom It May Concern:
Recently I was invited to a dinner party at a friends home.
There were to be a married couple from New York, a retired attorney, myself and the host. As I arrived, I noticed my host was having a cocktail. He said, “I am serving champagne after everyone gets here”. Within 10 minutes, the retired attorney arrived and asked for a drink? The host replied the same thing about serving champagne. At that moment the retired attorney said, “When you go to my house, I offer you a drink or wine, regardless of the champagne”. I jumped into the conversation and said the same thing. He abruptly got up and started serving the champagne.
Last night, I was at the same friend’s house, a comment was made and he went ballistic about that night.
His comment was “It’s my house and I can do whatever I want. I will talk later about that issue, I got really pissed at you”.
Is he right or wrong? Anxiously awaiting your reply, I remain. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .

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Mrs. Czeisel July 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm

At a formal dinner party one should offer cocktails before dinner (champagne is for dessert). However, the greater offense here is that a good guest does not make requests and certainly not demands. I’m sure you were not dying of thirst waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive. It is not your responsibility to teach the host how to be a good host and attempting to do so is considered rude.

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Elizabeth July 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I agree that the situation was not handled well by the guests, but I would feel similarly annoyed if the host was enjoying a beverage but wasn’t offering the same to his guests. Normally people wait for everyone to arrive to serve food, but it is quite odd to make people wait for a drink. I think the issue here was no so much that anyone was dying of thirst, but expected the normal course of hospitality and a similar level as the host had been shown when he was a guest. Guests shouldn’t go around making demands, but a good host should accommodate a reasonable request. I am personally surprised that the host actually defended his actions instead of apologizing for making his guests wait for a beverage and drinking something in front of them that he didn’t intend to share.

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Just Laura July 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

So this gentleman opens his home to you, his guests, and you all ganged up on the poor man because he felt he should wait for others to arrive? Simply requesting some water for the interim should have sufficed. Mrs. Czeisel is correct that it was not your responsibility to instruct this host how to entertain in his own home. I do find it odd that he would enjoy a cocktail in front of empty-handed guests, but libations shouldn’t be demanded.

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Marc September 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

My wife and I were recently at a family event and walked upon on a conversation about an upcoming party. The host-to-be somewhat uncomfortably stated that if we didn’t have plans we were invited for their Labor Day party. I sent a short email after the event, saying it was nice to see them, thanking them for the Labor Day invite and saying we looked forward to seeing them. However, I received no response to the email and we never received any details as to the actual event (time, address, etc.) which turns out was on the Sunday before Labor Day. After not attending, my wife’s mother – who did receive all the details from the source and attended the party, criticized my wife for not calling and asking for the details. Is it really the invited party’s responsibility to call and essentially invite themselves to the party?

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Winifred Rosenburg September 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm

No, however since you specified that you were going to the party you should have called so they weren’t left unsure of how many guests there would be. You are right that it is the hosts responsibility to provide that information and you shouldn’t have had to ask for it, but in this case you did.

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Marc September 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Thank you very much for your reply. Given the awkward nature of the invite and the lack of any response to my email, etc, we felt as if we were in essence inviting ourselves to the event – i.e., if the event were actually firmed up, we would receive the invite info. But alas, it seems we failed our etiquette test.

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Just Laura September 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I wouldn’t call that a Fail. If I were inviting someone, I would give them details.

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Alicia September 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Are you sure you have the correct email? If you do not that could explain the lack of reply and lack of details. But since they never gave you details I agree you had no way to know how and when and where to show.

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Jane September 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

I was recently invited to my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding. The invitaton was sent to my boyfriend’s family and I was told that I was included on it as well. I know that his parents are going to buy a present for the bride and groom and his two siblings probably will not since they are in college and high school and will not be expected to. My boyfriend is in his first year of grad school and this is my first year working just out of college. Should I give a present? My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 6 yrs, and I have gone another one of his cousin’s weddings back when we were both in high school and did not give a present then. If I should give a gift this time, what is the proper value to give?

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Just Laura September 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm

If I were you, I would bring a present. The cost of the present, however, is up to you as you are the only one who knows how much you can comfortably afford.

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Alicia September 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

You and your boyfriend should give a gift together. You are going as his date and he is an adult. The value for all gifts should be based on your budgeet and closeness to the gift recipient/s. The parents gift is from them and their minor children.

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KIMBERLY September 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm

My daughter is turning 25, I can’t afford to give her a big birthday party at a restaurant, but want to have a nice family gathering and dinner at our house or her grandma’s house. I heard her boyfriend’s mother is organizing a big dinner at a fancy restaurant for her and will be inviting us I think as well as other family and her friends- I feel hurt by this, should I and is it appropriate for her to do this? My daughter always wanted a big restaurant affair, should I just quit being selfish and be glad she is having this thrown for her and attend with a smile? Her boyfriend doesn’t treat her very well which makes it worse-

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Just Laura September 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Kimberly, I feel for your situation, because this sounds like there is much more than a birthday party at play here. Have you sat down with your daughter lately and talked with her? Does she know how you feel about the party, and about everything else?

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Alicia September 30, 2011 at 8:19 am

Yes be happy and please for your daughter and attend with a smile. This however does not preclude doing a family dinner in addition.

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Terri October 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

I will retiring soon and was planning on inviting a group of good friends I have made during my 26 years with this organization out to dinner in an exclusive restaurant. I had savings set aside for this special occasion and special friends. Due to the economic situation (I for one prefer to stay and enjoy dinner at home – and a last-minute trip came up which I don’t want to miss the same day of my retirement) I decided that instead of the sit-down dinner, I would take the funds and divide them among my dear friends and on my behalf they could enjoy this gift in whatever they prefer. I have designed a beautiful card, thanking them and expresing what their friendship and support through the years have meant to me; and I plan to include in the card a check. Is this proper? This is what I deeply feel and I want to do. Will a check from my personal checking account (very nice checks) be proper or will it be better to get cashier’s checks/money orders? Nobody knows what I have been planning, i.e, the dinner and now the thank you $$$ gift. They are not expecting anything. Thank you very much for your input.
Terri

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Alicia October 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

A thank you dinner is lovely. A thank you check from a coworker well I’m not sure why that exactly sits wrong with me but it would make me very very very uncomfortable to the point of making the generous gift unpleasant. Why not do the thank you dinner on a different night? It does not have to be on the exact last night you work with them. A month before or a month or two later would be equally lovely. Failing that gracious cards sans money would not create the uncomfortable vibes a check from a coworker might.

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Terri October 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

Thank you very much for your advice. On the other side of the picture I see what you mean and I definitely do not wish to make them feel uncomfortable. Would it be in good taste to send the cards a few days ( 1 or 2 days) before I leave on my trip?
Terri

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Terri October 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm

P.S. ….send the cards (so long/friendship cards ‘only’ – nothing else) a few days (1 or 2 days) before I leave on my trip?

Terri

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Alicia October 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

That would be great or you could leave them on peoples desks/mailboxes at work the day you leave. I would make sure to include your contact info so that people know how to stay in touch with you. Sounds like you are a wonderful coworker.

Elizabeth October 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Terri,
It sounds like you very much want to do the right thing, but sometimes when you do not follow the rules of gift-giving (and there are very much rules for it!), you can make people uncomfortable.

First, when someone retires, it is usual and typical they they are treated with a special meal and given gifts. Your long service deserves recognition and you should allow people to recognize you that way. Has anyone mentioned wanting to throw you a party?

Second, I can understand that your desire to want to throw a particular kind of party for your retirement, so you chose a nice restaurant knowing that you could afford to treat people. That’s fine too – the invitees would likely give you a gift, and the balance of gift-giving would be maintained.

However, what you are suggesting now is strange – you deprive your friends/colleagues a chance to express what your service meant to them, they don’t get a chance to say thank you, and then you want to give them a gift? It is wholly unusual for a a retiree to give gifts and to not allow gifts to be given. You will create a kind of social imbalance amongst your friends, it will make them feel awkward and they will resent it.

It would be best for you to schedule your dinner (it was your idea, after all, so you must like something about the restaurant) for the week after you come back from your trip – there’s no law that says it has to be on your last day. Give your friends a proper chance to thank you, to wish you well in your new phase of life, and say goodbye (not forever, but from seeing you everyday).

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Terri October 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

Getting knowledgeable different opinions help in avoiding doing something that might create discomfort to the receivers. I haven’t heard anyone mentioning a party for me; however, usually these are kept as a surprise. Thank you for the advice. Upon my return, a few months later, I could schedule an informal gathering for good old times sake.
Terri

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Cindy October 22, 2011 at 5:53 am

My partner and I are in our 50′s and her daughter’s boyfriend inviteded my partner to Thanksgiving at his mother’s home to “meet the parents” (his mother and step-father, I have not ideal if there will be other family members.) and specified that I am not invited. I feel that it is inconsiderate to have a “meet the parents” for Thanksgiving that excludes the significant other. It isn’t like a “meet the parents” would require a quick drop in for a cup of coffee.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 22, 2011 at 11:45 pm

If you are living together, engaged, or married (legally recognized marriage or not) than you are right. It is rude to not invite both of you since you have established yourselves as a social unit. Even if that is not the case, it may still be rude if you have previously implied to the daughter or the boyfriend that you wish to be regarded as a social unit.

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Elizabeth October 23, 2011 at 2:22 am

It was inconsiderate. However, whatever the invitation, the really important thing is how your partner responded. If you are a unit, she should treat you that way and decline any invitations that don’t include her partner. How would she feel if the roles were reversed?

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Alicia October 24, 2011 at 7:51 am

I think if this is rude depends on how significant a partner you are. You refer to your partner as “her” and your name is Cindy so I am going to assume that you are a lesbian couple that is using partner to mean long term significant relationship similar to marriage. If this is the case your partner needs to decline the invite and explain to her daughter that you are in her mind the equivalent of a stepmother to her and it is hurtful to both of you to exclude you. Then after thanksgiving you and your partner should invite your stepdaughters boyfriend and his parents over for a lovely dinner at your home.

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susan October 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Hi
I want to know what is equitte for sending a holiday card with my future daughter in law and son. Do we still send the card with there names since they are engaged or let them send their own cards Please reply

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Winifred Rosenburg October 23, 2011 at 12:04 am

Let them send their own card. They’re adults and can speak for themselves.

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Alicia October 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

They are adults let them send their own cards. You should send cards from your household only.

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Gail Grogan October 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

My father is going to be celebrating his 90th birthday and I wanted to throw a surprise party. My step mother whom my sisters and I have a difficuklt relationship with was pleased when I suggested it and offered to split expenses. My youngest sister is thrilled with the idea but lives far and is unemployed so I will incur her share of the party expenses. But my older sister remains angry over his remarriage and thinks it is the sole financial responsibility of our stepmother to throw this small dinner party for 25. I told her I thought it was a rule of etiquette that thge children are the ones who should be throwing the celebration…our stepmother has only been married to our father for the last 8 years ,whereas we have “known” him 65,58,and 50 years. Am I right?

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Just Laura October 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I’ve never heard of a rule of etiquette stating that children should throw their parents’ birthday parties. Do you know where you read this?
If you want to throw a party for your father, that’s great! He’s a lucky dad. If you and your stepmother want to do it (and it was very nice of her to want to split expenses), then that is also great. If your sisters are unwilling or unable to put any money toward the party, then you and your stepmother are the hostesses, and I wish you both a wonderful party.
I don’t understand why your sister still harbors this resentment that your father, clearly an adult, wanted to remarry 8 years ago. I hope she will be able to move past that for the sake of giving your father a fun 90th birthday.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

There is no rule saying who has to pay for any party. It was very nice of you to offer to chip in, but you shouldn’t have spoken for your siblings. As you pointed out, there can be financial reasons for not wanting to contribute. It also isn’t required that you evenly split the costs. One person could, for example, say she can only afford to contribute $100 and that would be fine.

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Alicia October 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

Nobody is ever required to throw a party in anyone elses honor. Thus the kids are not required to hold their parents birthday parties. If you and your stepmother wish to throw a party for your father then that is lovely. That one of your sisters wishes to help is also lovely. The other sister who does not wish to help is under no requirement to do so she has only required to promptly RSVP to the invite.

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Caryn October 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Is there a proper etiquette for giving a personalized gift to a couple that lives together and are not married? I have always given the one that I know persoanlized gifts including his last intial either alone, or in a monogram. Now what do I do?

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Alicia October 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Well it sort of depends. Are we talking one gift per person or one gift for the couple? Also are we talking a couple that considers themself the equivalent of married or are we talking a couple that may be a couple but less serious then that.
If two items just do each persons monomgram on their item
If one item for a couple that considers themself the equivalent of married ask them what monogram they like
If one item for a couple not as serious as married skip monogramming the item

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Country Girl October 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I agree with Alicia.

I would also add that while monogramming a gift can be lovely, is a really inflexible decision. This will permanently eliminate the ability of the recipient to return or re-purpose the item in the event it doesn’t fit, isn’t their taste, they marry and her last name changes etc. Perhaps you could instead give your gift with the offering that, if the couple wishes, you would also be happy to monogram the item however they choose. I, personally am not a very big fan of displaying/wearing items with my name or initials imprinted on them, I would love to be given the option to choose.

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Geoff October 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Is it proper to purchase birthday gifts for your son-in-law’s siblings?

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Winifred Rosenburg October 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

If you would like to. If you’re asking if it’s required, no it’s not.

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Ken November 2, 2011 at 12:15 am

Taking a poll: is it appropriate to buy the same exact expensive gift for my partner turning 40- major birthday as well as for my young teen 12, for her birthday the same month?

Thank you

Ken

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Just Laura November 2, 2011 at 12:37 am

I’m going to say “no,” because it may appear you got a deal at the Apple store. But of course, it does depend on the gift. Personally, if I were your partner, I’d think you didn’t put much thought into it.

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Alicia November 2, 2011 at 7:52 am

Well is that the best most wonderful gift you can get each of them for that price? If the answer is that that same gift is the most thoughtful and wonderful thing you can get each for your budget then I think that you can go right ahead and get them both the same thing.

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Danette November 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I was wondering what the etiquette is on who to send Christmas cars to. IE…Landlord, Daycare, Doctors, etc

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Amy November 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

When I rented, I sent a card to my landlord. I still send cards to doctors and others, and if you know the daycare people and have a child there, it’s a lovely gesture which lets them know you appreciate them.

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Amy November 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

I am co-hosting a bridal shower for a friend, along with three other friends of ours. Due to limited financial resources, we had planned to hold the shower for about 20, all friends and relatives of the bride, and her mother had originally decided not to host a separate shower with her friends because she had already done a separate engagement party. We were going to host at one of our houses.
Last week, the mother of the bride called to tell us that her friends are coming after all, and she needs the date, time and location so she can tell her friends. This now doubles the number of attendees, and more than doubles the budget since we now have to host it at a venue, which is more expensive. We’re pretty upset, not just due to her lack of consideration but also because of the added financial burden – we’re worried about having to cut corners when all we wanted to do was give our friend a warm, wonderful and elegant shower. We’re torn as to whether we just suck it up or tell her mother that we will be doing a separate shower as planned because of finances. We don’t want to ask her mother to pitch in, because she’s paying for the wedding and feels that it entitles her to have final say over everything, and we know that will end up being the case with the shower as well.
I should also point out that this stunt of hers is the latest in a long line of etiquette violations which include adding items to the registry that the bride and groom don’t want or need, in the hope that someone will buy it for the couple and she will get to keep it instead.
Any idea how we should handle this?

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Just Laura November 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

“Due to space and timing, we will be unable to accommodate your request, but we look forward to seeing you there.”

Typically, the mother shouldn’t host a shower anyway as it appears like the family is gift-grabby. (I nearly had a fight with my mother over this very topic earlier this year.) From what you’ve mentioned about your friend’s mother, “gift-grabbiness” may be the case. If the mother persists (“but you just have to allow my friends!”), remind her that this is about the bride and her friends. Alternately, you could have the bride speak with her mother.

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Amy November 13, 2011 at 9:55 am

Thanks! I’m having a “summit” with the other three shower co-hosts today, and we’re going to discuss this topic (among many others)…

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Cathy November 14, 2011 at 1:04 am

My sister-in-law is currently living with: her two daughters, her boyfriend (who is the father one daughter), the boyfriends adult daughter, and the boyfriends grandchild. One of the boyfriends other children also visits their home regularly.

My sister-in-law sent us Christmas lists for all of the above. (She didn’t include his other adult children that do not live with them at all.) Where is the appropriate place to draw the line for gift giving?

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R. November 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Yikes is my first thought. I think it’d be tough to give certain people presents but not others because they don’t share family ties with you directly, as I can imagine it might get awkward when gifts are distributed and opened at Christmas (even if you aren’t there in person to see this happen).

What if you send something for each of your SIL’s daughters and something smaller for the grandchild? Then, you send something that everyone can enjoy/share together… ex: some food item, a GC to subsidize a meal out, a pass/ticket to a family attraction in their town. That way, you aren’t excluding anyone but you aren’t stuck giving an object to each person.

One factor that you didn’t mention is whether you’ve met all of these people or not. Are they invited as a family unit to family events (casual or formal ones)? How long has your SIL been living with her BF? Does your SIL consider the adult daughter her daughter, the grandchild as her grandchild? I think these questions might change how you approach the gift-giving. My approach to gift-giving is try to be inclusive but not everyone receives a gift of equal value.

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Lady Antipode November 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm

In this case, I would ignore the lists for anything other than inspiration. I suggest a ‘family’ gift, such as a board game, a plant or tree for their garden, decorations for their Christmas tree, or a hamper full of good things for all of them (including the granddaughter). Depending on your budget, a game console or games for a console might also be appropriate, which is where the lists will help (if there are no games or game-related things, it might not be something that interests them).

If you do wish to give a gift each, something small like a Christmas bauble could be fun, and keep with the family theme.

May I also suggest that the ‘boyfriend’ appears to be so well integrated into their family unit, that the appropriate title would be ‘partner’.

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Wanda November 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

What is the proper response to a formal out of town announcment regarding a relative achieving PhD of Philosophy? Of course, I will send a wonderful card of congratulations…. I am wondering if I should be also sending a gift ?

I am single & retired and on a limited amount of SS & small pension. Please advise. Thank you.

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Alicia November 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

A letter of congratulations where you you use for formal title Dr. Whomever. Even if someone who you would not normally use a formal title with.

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Colleen November 26, 2011 at 6:42 am

I recently got married to my husband. This parents invite his ex wife to their family functions/holidays because “she is their grandsons (who is 25) mother.” This upsets me and they continue to do this so it would be me WITH her and my husband. I’ve expained this to his parents and to my husband. He doesn’t mind it and his ex wife also knows that it highly bothers me however she keeps attending. Am I wrong for feeling the way I do? My husband and I have recently argued about this AGAIN to the point I won’t go. But she does and so does he. So I have spent the last 3 holidays alone.

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Renee December 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm

It seems as though everyone else gets along and instead of appreciating that, you are CHOOSING to be bothered by it. Requesting to approve your host’s guest list is rude. It would be bigger of you to be supportive and share the holidays with your new husband, instead of asking him to choose between you and his family. She’s HIS ex and you shouldn’t have issue with her just because of that.

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Alicia November 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

You are never wrong to feel how you feel. However, yes due to having given birth to their grandkids she is a permanent member of the family. Being always invited to the holidays so that the grandkids come to the holidays is part of that. Instead try and be glad that your husband picked you. Go to the holidays. Be gracious but mainly talk to others. Insisting that a host exclude others as you have learned does not work. Instead you are the only one you will make unhappy and you look petty and unaccepting. There will be many occasions in your stepkids lives where you must be able to be gracious in their moms presence so learn to do so by being gracious but mainly hanging with everyone else during the holidays. When you married your husband his kids mom became part of your life as well.

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K November 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I have been dating my boyfriend for 8 months. During this time he has introduced me to friends and we have gone out occasionally with these people. He was recently invited to an annual Christmas party by one of them. He has not mentioned to me that I am going with him. The party is in 2 weeks..should I say something or just wait and see what happens. It is really bugging me.

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Alicia November 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Perhaps you were not invited. Unless a couple is married, engaged, or living together there is no requirement to invite both parts of a dating couple. Also it is still two whole weeks away which is still a ton of time. Maybe you are invited and he will mention between now and then. However, the only polite option is to wait and see and if you are not invited to roll with it and do something special yourself that evening.

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Country Girl November 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Alicia is correct, since you and your boyfriend are not yet a “social unit” it is acceptable for friends to invite you to parties separately. However, there is no harm in asking your boyfriend if you have been invited, so long as you are ok with the answer being no. He will know if they invited you, did not invite you, or (since this may be a very casual gathering seeing as they didn’t send out formal invitations) perhaps there was the unspoken assumption that you’d be joining as well.

If they invited him only, then that is that. He can choose to attend without you or decline the invitation. While it is never polite to ask to bring an uninvited guest, if the friends were unclear about who they were inviting, it is acceptable for your boyfriend to ask them “I just wanted to check about the Christmas party and confirm that the invitation was for me alone.” At that point they can say “Yes.” or “Oh no, we assumed you’d be bringing K!”

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Elena December 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

My mother-in-law just passed would it be OK to decorate for Xmas, send cards, buy gifts and go to parties? I feel life goes on.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

Yes, one way of looking at it is when someone passes, you want to celebrate the lives of those still with you. You can do anything you’re feeling up to.

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Alicia December 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

What does your husband want to do it was his mom. I would go along with his vibe on this.

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Elizabeth December 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I agree with Alicia – her passing might not be such a big deal to you, but you have to be sensitive to those who are really affected by it. Perhaps this year you could agree with your husband to attend fewer parties or to attend some without him. Unfortunately the family gift-giving does not usually stop. He may want a pass from you for the shopping and gifts that he normally does himself. Maybe you could offer to help him out, pick out your own present, help him by buying gifts for his family, etc. But I agree that her passing does not require you to absent yourself from any and all joyous occasions. But you also can’t expect your husband to be a convivial host at your annual Xmas party either. Cut each other some slack.

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Christine December 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

My sister, her husband and their new baby just bought a house out of town, and down the street to some extended family. We all used to be closer when we were kids but don’t often see each other – mostly because we realized how rude and gossipy that side of the family would get.

Our immediate family is celebrating Christmas at my sister’s new home, and my cousin, his wife and their child asked what they are doing on Christmas Eve as they’d like to stop by.

My sister, along with basically everyone else attending Christmas Eve, don’t want them to come. As exhibited by their invite to previous parties, the child is free to destroy the place, make demands of everyone and is never held accountable by her parents. During my niece’s baptism luncheon, my cousin’s daughter threw pads of paper at other guests who told her to stop blocking the doorway (she said she was in charge of the door and wouldn’t let guests through). Her parents just say she’s a wild child but won’t ever get up to discipline her or stop her.

How can my sister tell them they are not welcome? She’s stressed out and asked me for help in dealing with this issue.

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Alicia December 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

All she has to say is “Oh we are having Christmas eve with our immediate family so that is an inconvenient time for a visit. Hopefully we can get together early next year at your place.”

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Bud December 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Got a photo xmas card with my son his live in and her two kids. We sent a card back to her and her two kids, and our usual special one to son. They are mad at us. Since not married, we thought this was apprpiate. Are we wrong?

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Elizabeth December 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

They are living together, they are a social unit, and they’ve demonstrated that through sending you a family Xmas card with all of them on it. Why draw attention to the fact that they’re not married? They all live together, why send them two different cards? I would apologize to your son for “inadvertently making it seem like you did not consider them as being “together.” Married or not, they are “together.”

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Jessica December 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm

My sister just got married in October and I’m getting married this June. I’m wondering what the etiquette is on inviting my brother in law’s parents to my wedding. Is it something that is sort of required? Or is it just a nice gesture?

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Elizabeth December 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm

My sister is getting married and faced with this very question – whether to invite my in-laws. I don’t think it’s “required.” It depends highly on the kind of relationship you have with them as well as the size of your wedding. Will you have to not invite close friends in order to invite the in-laws who you’ve met once? Then probably no. Or are you having a huge wedding and are these people who you’ve spent a number of holidays with? Then yes.

In my sister’s case, the question is whether to invite my parents-in-law and also whether to invite my BIL’s family. She is having a fairly large wedding and I think she may opt just to invite the parents.

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Renee December 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I recently had a small, casual dinner party and invited a girlfriend who showed up late without apology or explanation. The invitation was for cocktails at 6:30, followed by dinner at 7:00. She showed up at 7:30 as my other guests had just sat down to eat. (I held dinner as long as I could without ruining the meal.)
Several weeks prior to the dinner party, I invited the same friend to accompany me on a holiday home tour in an historic neighborhood in our community. She accepted my invitation so I purchased our tickets on-line in advance for the event. The day prior to the event, she called and asked if her sister could join us, thus making it a “girl’s day”. I had no issue with her sister joining us and replied that that would be fine with me. She stated that her sister would purchase her own ticket the day of the event when we picked up our tickets at the will-call location.
We had not determined a specific time to go to the home tour, as it was scheduled much as like an open house, over the course of 5 hours, so I called her the morning of the event to firm up our plans. She told me that she and her sister would be going holiday shopping and suggested we meet at her home at 5:00, thus I planned my day according to the plan we agreed upon.
At 4:15 that day, I received a call from my friend informing me that she and her sister had changed their shopping plans and would like to leave to go to the home tour immediately. I explained that was on the other side of town, as I hadn’t planned on being at her home until 5:00, as she suggested. She was quite short with me and replied that they were ready to go as soon as I could get there. I mentioned that I would arrive at her home as soon as I could to pick up her and her sister as we previously discussed. She then stated that we could meet at her home, but that she and her sister would be driving separately, as they had made other plans for after the home tour. The home tour was spread out over a large area, which is why we originally planned on driving together.
Her lateness for the dinner party was Friday and the home tour event was the following Sunday. I’m offended by her behavior and felt it was rude of her to change plans she and I had made at my invitation. I feel as though I should say something. I don’t want to damage our friendship, however, I feel as though her inconsiderate behavior has already taken a toll. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Just Laura December 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I must ask, Renee, why didn’t you say something right then? She changed your plans at the last moment, and expected you to be okay with it (she assumed that you had nothing of your own going on, I guess). You must make an important decision:
Does this person have other redeeming qualities that cause you to overlook the fact that she cares little about your valuable time?
If she does (maybe she’s a great listener, or kind on other occasions), then you may want to ignore this, and plan accordingly in the future. If, however, you can’t get past this (and I hardly blame you), then simply stop making plans with her. As you intimated, she is the one who damaged the friendship.

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Renee December 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I didn’t say anything at the time of the dinner party because I had other guests and didn’t want to embarrass anyone or make the situation any more awkward that it already was. The home tour was the first time I was meeting her sister and again, I didn’t want to bring a cloud over the situation, not knowing how much of the situation her sister was aware of. Had it just been she and I would have certainly said something immediately.
Our children are friends and play together regularly so it makes the situation more awkward.
I think perhaps you’re right and the the remedy is simply stop making plans with her.
Thank you for your feedback.

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Elizabeth December 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Each of these things in isolation wouldn’t be SO bad, but since they all happened within a relatively short amount of time, I can understand why you’d be miffed. Your friend sounds like a person who is first and foremost concerned about what is convenient for her and relatively unconcerned as to how her decisions and behavior affect other people. And the fact that she doesn’t apologize or own up to how these decisions will affect you is even more telling. The time to have said something was really in the moment, and now the time for something that could be kept low-level has passed. I’m guessing that if you bring her behavior up to her, she’ll just get defensive and will break off the friendship. You have to decide whether she has some redeeming qualities that would allow you to overlook these negative traits. Also, you can stop allowing her to call the shots by not holding dinner for her, insisting that you drive together and stick to the original plan, etc. You can easily say in the moment, “But Susie, it’s going to kind of suck for me to have to drive behind you and your sister while we go from house to house. I thought this was supposed to be a fun girl’s day, and this driving situation is going to make it not that fun for me. Why don’t we drop off a car at a convenient place from which you and Jane can continue on to your evening?” Or when she shows up at your house an hour late with no explanation: “Susie, are you alright? We were expecting you an hour ago, did anything bad happen??” If you address these stunts in the moment, they can be resolved without lingering resentment and she’ll get a clue that you don’t appreciate it and won’t stand to be treated like that.

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Country Girl December 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Excellent advice from Laura and Elizabeth. I would add that people need to SEE the negative results of their actions. Thus far, it seems you have been sort of allowing her to bulldog your plans. If you try to talk it our or tell her that her flakiness bothers you, then you open up the potential for her to make excuses or shift the blame.

The most surefire way to teach a self-involved friend to be more respectful of plans is by simply standing your ground. I’ve had to do this with flaky friends of mine. Start the meal without her. Don’t be afraid to say “Well if you aren’t able to make our scheduled tour time, then I’m afraid we just won’t be able to go together today. I had planned for 5pm, and won’t be ready until then.” Then find another friend to accompany you.

The embarrassment of showing up to a table full of guests half-way through a meal, or the shock and sadness of not being able to join you on the fun tour as planned should be enough to jolt her realization that there are unpleasant consequences of selfish behavior. And you can bet the next time she makes plans with you, she will try much harder to respect your time. It has worked for me. =) You will teach her that no the world does not revolve around you; you can either show up as planned for a great time, or you will just miss out!

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Gina December 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm

How do I graciously tell my husband’s family that I am really uncomfortable with giving a “Christmas list” of what I want for Christmas and then being expected to buy whatever they(they includes 3 aunts, his parents , his sister, her husband and their 2 children) in return demand in their “Christmas list” It is a really bizarre tradition in their family and it makes me very uncomfortable because I feel like gifts should be from the heart and not from a demanded list. We are not on a budget or anything but I have always enjoyed shopping for thoughtful gifts and I feel like this takes away from the point of giving gifts during the holidays. It has also become a bit of a issue between me and my husband because he doesn’t understand why it makes me uncomfortable. Can you help me?

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Just Laura December 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Gina,
First of all, I agree with you. I don’t like to be told what to buy for people, as I enjoy taking time to pick out a gift for my loved ones. And I really don’t like having to tell other what to buy me! It feels forced, and not very fun.
Second, you mention this is a family tradition; can you really think of an acceptable way to tell a dozen people that their long-time beloved family tradition is wrong?
Unfortunately, there are harmless traditions we may think are odd, but because we love the family, we participate. You should come up with a vague list for them (“Oh, I like books on historic houses as well as obscure black and white movies.”) When it comes to your family and friends, you should continue to buy presents the way you feel is best.

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Alicia December 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Well I come from a Dear Santa list family too. So I am speaking from the pro gift list point of view. Yes thoughtful gifts are wonderful and best but gifts for adults are hard when all of the needs are pretty much taken care of and you have no idea. I seriously would have about 3 of my 14 people done if I needed to come up with ideas for all of them. So write a list as vague or as specific as you would like but write a list soem of us have no ideas particularly for inlaws who you may not be as good at knowing what they do and do not own and do and do not like. Then your husband needs to be responsible for buying the christmas presents for his side of the family. He should be the one doing the thoughtful or list given gifts from the two of you. It is his family and his responsibility. If he needs help he can consult the lists they provide if not he can get them whatever he wants to get them. If he wants your help feel free to do whatever you think the recipeint may love be it on or off the list.
If one of my in laws told me that the dear Santa list tradition took the fun out of Christmas for them I would pretty much take that as their asking to be taken off my Christmas list and they would either get nothing or something so generic you could not go wrong ( like nice umbrella) but boring.

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Just Laura December 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm

“…write a list some of us have no ideas particularly for inlaws who you may not be as good at knowing what they do and do not own and do and do not like.”

Great point, which is another reason not to upset this family’s tradition.

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Heather December 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I enjoy reading your site, and I am trying to figure out a current situation (from a woman (me) to a man (my boyfriend). We are both 26 and have been dating for 5 months, we are flying to see his parents during the holidays (we paid separately for our flights), he is in law school and doesn’t have a job/his own money/parents provide spending money and he has loans for school, he pays when we go out at all times (we go to nice places but he is not wasteful of his parents money). I am wondering how to handle our gift exchange (Hanukah to be specific) given the info provided above and the fact that he hasn’t mentioned anything about exchanging gifts. Do I buy him something small (like $25-$50) just in case or do nothing at all? Please help, I have asked around and get a different answer from everyone (men and women). Thanks.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

You should give him a gift since you are spending the holidays with him. If he doesn’t give you a gift, tell him basically what you implied here that he shouldn’t feel bad about not giving you anything since he pays for your outings regularly. If you want to, you can even tell him ahead of time that you don’t want him to give you anything for those reasons and give him something like homemade cookies that are inexpensive and if he protests you can say you were making a batch anyway and just made him a few extra for him.

To create more of a balance in the relationship to prevent future problems like this, you should host him on dates sometimes, even if it’s just having him over your home for dinner. (By the way, this was how ladies of the past would repay a gentleman for a date before it was normal for women to occasionally pay restaurant bills.) Ideally, you should alternate, although it doesn’t have to be that formulaic. Whoever hosts chooses what to do and pays.

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Michelle December 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm

My partner and I do not celebrate Christmas, being Jewish and atheist. However, I enjoy sending cards to close friends and family members that match whatever holiday or season they happen to celebrate. My (Christian) father and brother, with whom we are on good terms, usually send us a Christmas card with a hand-written “Merry Christmas” inside even though they know that we do not celebrate Christmas, enjoying solstice and New Year’s festivities instead. How should I respond, if at all, when I receive these cards? I appreciate the sentiment behind Christmas greetings I receive from those who don’t know me well (although I’d prefer greetings that don’t assume I’m Christian), but I’d expect family members to respect our beliefs as we respect theirs. Do I simply thank them and keep offering gentle reminders?

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Alicia December 16, 2011 at 8:51 am

Go ahead and send Happy Holidays cards or Happy New years cards or there is even such a thing as Happy Solstice cards. But when you recieve a card that says Merry Christmas just put it with the other cards you recieve and be happy they thought of you a tiny but not very large amount. Cards do not require a thank you. There is no response needed nor any good response to say. Continue to wish them Happy Holidays and when in person they say “Merry Christmas ” just say back”Oh I thought you knew I do not celebrate Christmas, But I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Solstice!” Do that with a smile in your voice and it will slowly sink in.

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Isis December 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Undoubtedly, I confused regarding the situation I’m in, my partner’s ex- keeps a constant relationship with his ex- wife, and mind you there are no children from this marriage. Moreover, we been married for over 6yrs. in the past I have expressed my disapproval on this issue. However, it has gone on death ears, it seems like it stops for a little while, then it begins all over again. Furthermore, just recently my partner received a dinner certificate for $60.00 from her. In turn, I sent her a certificate for the same amount for an exclusive boutique where she resides. Unquestionably, this has been going on for several years, he keeps telling me that’s how she is & she doesn’t mean any harm. In addition, in one occasion we were going through our monthly bills, and I ask him why is he still paying her go-daddy account? he denied everything, and gave me a vague excuse. Needless to say, she’s married to a nice military man for over 3yrs. now. I feel the need to inform you that in the beginning he ask me to join him to a birthday party, which I found out that it was one of his ex-relative party, I resentfully attended. From there on, it became a habit we would go to their parties & vice versa, then I decided that I couldn’t continue with this charades; and I totally discontinued attending any events from his ex. My question to you is am I wrong to ask for this relation to stop?…
Sincerely yours
Isis~

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Country Girl December 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

This isn’t really a question about etiquette, but more a question of doing what you feel is right in your heart.

It doesn’t sound to me as though your partner has done anything malicious, rather that he has just ended his last marriage on a positive note and remained friends with his ex wife. If a little jealousy over their relationship is what you are feeling, I would urge you to try to see it from the point of he has chosen to be with you now. He is including you in his friendship with his ex and her family, so he at least seems to be taking your feelings into consideration.

If there is more to the story, and he is acting inconsiderately of your feelings or putting priority of his ex over you, then it may be time to ask him to stop his contact. Be aware that he could say no, and at that point you may have to choose if you can stay with him despite his friendship with his ex. He may also be angry, hurt, or confused as to why you don’t want him to maintain that friendship. Try to be calm and logical by saying “I really don’t feel comfortable when you pay a bill for something that ___ should be paying.” or “I don’t feel comfortable hanging out with your exwife’s family for obvious reasons. I would like it if we could go out and make new friends together as a couple.”

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Just the girlfriend December 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

My boyfriend divorced 2 years ago. We started dating a year ago. He has 3 children with his ex-wife. His ex has depression and bi-polar, doesn’t enjoy being a mother, is anti-social and still clings to my boyfriend by constantly texting him and changing the kids custody arrangements on a whim to mess with our plans. She recently talked by my boyfriend’s parents and complained that their boys, ages 11, 8 and 6 yrs, didn’t get her a birthday present and this made her sad. His parents bought her a Christmas present “from the boys” and sent it home with us to send with the boys to give to her. I was shocked. His parents come to the town she lives in quite often and I thought it was totally inappropriate first, for them to get her a Christmas present “from the boys” when she needs to learn to grow-up and not expect her young children to buy her a gift and secondly, for them to expect us to be the “mules” for a gift to a woman that seems to spend all her waking moments trying to make our and her chidrens lives miserable seems quite out of line. When my boyfriend’s parents told him their plan to get her a gift he told them he thought that was ridiculous because I had the boys make her birthday cards so they DID give her something and they’re just children so she shouldn’t expect a store-bought present from them! She lies constantly to people to get what she wants from them and acts like a pitifull victim and we’re sick of it and certainly didn’t feel like enabling her to continue this behavior. Am I wrong for feeling this was out of line for his parents? In my opinion they can get gifts for whomever they want but they shouldn’t have asked us to help deliver this one and probably shouldn’t have even told us their intentions.

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Alicia December 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm

As you say you are just the girlfriend. You are and your judgement of this kindness is a smidge harsh. The grandparents were bieng nice to their grandkids and you shoudl not view that as mean. Yes the father should be organizing so that the kids can give a gift to their mother at Christmas and the mother should organize a gift from the kids for the father. If the father is not organizing a gift for the kids to give their mother then yes the granparents are well within normal bounds to organize it on behalf of the kids. At 11,8,6 they are old enough to know that you typically get gifts for your parents and they do not have any money. So yes they should be giving gifts to each of their parents at the holidays.

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Elizabeth December 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I agree with Alicia. As much trouble as this woman makes for you, she is still the mother of the children, and she’ll be with you for a long time. When I was a kid, the elementary school set up a Xmas shop – children were given a certain sum of money and were able to buy their parents and siblings little gifts – maybe you’d spend $10 total. I don’t know if schools still do this, but it was a way to instill gift-giving into children (and to actually give them a way to do it) at a young age. You could help by taking the children shopping to buy gifts for their dad and mom. Love is not a zero-sum game, and you have a stake in helping them have a good relationship with their mom. If you’re in it for the long haul with this family, you have a chance to improve things, or at least be the bigger person.

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Just the girlfriend December 27, 2011 at 6:16 pm

In both my and my boyfriend’s family children have never given their parents a store bought gift. The kids make some gifts as school to give to their parents and I know she got a couple of these from her boys. Like I said, I had the boys make birthday cards for their mom … I realize love isn’t a zero-sum game. Maybe in other families young children give store bought gifts to their parents but that’s not the tradition in either of our families … young kids are encouraged to make something for their parents not buy something. I’m also a mother of two, 15 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter and many times my kids encourage by bf’s boys to make gifts for their mom but my kids know I don’t need money spend on me to prove they love me. I know none of the other kids in my boyfriend’s family (he has a number of nieces and nephews) give their parents purchased gifts AND he has a divorced sister and his parents didn’t purchase her ex-husband a gift from their children. I knew the boys were making things as school for their mom so I was happy the boys HAD something to give their mom. I always make sure the kids have a home-made card, “coupons” to help around the house or for hugs, etc to give their mom so I feel I am being the bigger person already and she’s just being ungrateful for what her children already gave her. My boyfriend’s parents were told the kids had made her gifts but they bought a gift anyway. Isn’t that teaching the kids that gifts from the heart aren’t as good as store boughts gifts? And if they want to encourage that sort of thinking why couldn’t they drop it off to her rather than us be their delivery service?

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Elizabeth December 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I don’t think that “store-bought” is superior to “hand-made,” and it sounds as if the kids did do something age-appropriate for their mom. That’s very nice. (I do think that the joys of gift-giving do have to be instilled in kids – when they do have jobs and spare cash, will you expect them to give you purchased gifts? I see a lot of posts here and elsewhere in which parents complain that their adult kids don’t give them gifts, only expect to receive them, they don’t reciprocate in taking them out to dinner, etc, and it’s because they didn’t teach them when they were young to do that kind of thing. They have to be trained to do that, but that’s another issue. )

It sounds like what you don’t like is being asked to deliver the gift. But if the kids were with you, weren’t they the ones taking the gift with them to give to their mom? I feel like this is all splitting hairs – you feel as though the grandparents were showing kindness to a woman that you personally don’t like and who is making things difficult. Unless they usually take the ex’s side over your husband’s, I would take this to be a (perhaps misguided) attempt at kindness and an attempt to ameliorate hurt feelings of the mom, however drama queeny they were. But it seems like a really small thing over which to have a resentment build up. I would let it go. But if you feel as though they are somehow not supportive of the kids’ dad and show favoritism to the ex, this is something your boyfriend should bring up to his own parents. Even if you were married to him, it’s best to stay out of your partner’s relationships with their parents. How does your boyfriend feel about all this? I would follow his lead – it’s his parents, his kids, and his ex after all. Don’t let this little thing mar your holiday, and try not to let the ex push your buttons. There’s a great episode of Mad Men when Betty (who was remarried, had the house, the kids, etc) realizes that she doesn’t have to be so punitive to her ex because she realized that she had everything and he had nothing. Meaning- you are in a relationship, you have a good relationship with the kids and the in-laws – this poor crazy woman probably spent Xmas alone. Try to see the big picture and be generous.

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Just the girlfriend December 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I might also add that the ex-wife didn’t purchase a gift for the kids to give their father and neither did my ex-husband or his girlfriend for my children to give to me. We were all content with homemade gifts or simply the “gift of giving” as we all believe the focus should be on the children for Christmas.

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Country Girl December 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I see your frustration. While I obviously don’t know the personalities of those involved, I might venture to guess that perhaps your boyfriend’s parents were simply trying to appease ex-wife’s complaining so that they didn’t have to hear about it from her any more? Perhaps they figured it was easier for them to give in and “make her happy” than it would be to continue to hear her whine and moan. Unfortunately, that is how many people deal with conflict. It is sad that she is dragging them into her sob story, but of course what matters is how you deal with it all.

At having been given this “pass-along” gift, I might have said something to boyfriends parents like “How unfortunate that ex-wife didn’t think the card and gifts the boys made for her weren’t good enough. I guess some people don’t appreciate the thought and the spirit of the season, but are instead more interested in monetary gifts. I’m sorry you are being dragged into this. I, of course, will pass your gift along her, however I honestly don’t feel comfortable giving it from the boys as I don’t want them to learn that store-bought gifts are more important than ones that come from their hearts.”

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milfeulle January 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

My uncle’s caregiver lives with us so that she could watch over him. The house is his own, yet we have to stay in the house so that her daughter can have someone to be with, because its just the two of them. His brother is the one that hired the caregiver and the one who gives her salary. Before, everything went good with the caregiver, but then there’s an incident between us and I was the one who took offense. I did say sorry to her, but I was a bit mad that time and it didn’t sound humble. And after that incident, every time she comes around, I hear her talk insulting stuff behind my back. My mom told me to just ignore her when she does it. But as time goes, it becomes irritating and I just want to confront her. What should I do? (sorry for my bad english)

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Alicia January 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

I am not sure I understand what is happening. Is this correct ?
1. You , your mom, your uncle, his caregiver, and the caregivers daughter all live in your uncles house
2.You did something to offend the caregiver.
3. you appologized halfheartedly
4. She has not really accepted the apology as she mumbles and speaks bad of you

Is this correct?
If so, sometime when you are both in good moods and relatively alone take her asside and say that you think that she is still made over what you did and that you are sorry and ask her what if anything you can do to make it us to her. Listen for a response. Do not yell do not get mad and do not try and respond right then. Tell her that you will try and then do try . At the end of the conversation say you hope the two of you will get along better now. Then do whatever she said and be extra nice to her no matter what for a while. Hopefully clearing the air will promote a better relationship. If not then just kleep being nice to her and she will look like the mean one.

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milfeulle January 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

oops, i mean “his daughter” – my uncle’s daughter. sorry.

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Catarina January 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I have been invited to a bat mitzvah. It happens to be for my boss’s granddaughter. I am unable to attend this affair. I would like to send a monetary gift but do not know how much would be an appropriate amount. My boss is the owner of a very high end jewelry business and is extremely successful. My husband said I do not need to send a gift at all but I don’t feel right about that. All of my co-workers who are not going either are asking the same question. Please help!! I would greatly appreciate what is proper etiquette in this type of a situation. PS. I could send a fun gift for a 13 yr old girl instead of giving money. Any suggestions would be great. Thank you.

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Winifred Rosenburg January 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Your husband is right that you do not have to send a gift. If you would like to, give an amount that’s a multiple of $18. Etiquette does not say how much you should give. If you are completely lost on how to choose a number, I can tell you that in my experience adults who attend bat mitzvah’s usually give around $100. I would imagine not going would lower the expectation.

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Elizabeth January 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm

It’s really lovely that you want the bat mitzvah girl to have a gift even though you can’t attend the party. However, it’s not like it’s a wedding, and there’s really no expectation that you would do so. It is a nice, gesture though. If you want to give money, the thing to do is to give it in multiples of 18, which is an especially auspicious number because its the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for ‘life’. So, you will appear to be very “in the know” if you give a multiple of 18 (like 36, 54, etc). For a bat mitzvah that you’re not even attending, I don’t know that I would give much more than $36, since it’s really a symbolic gift (to someone you don’t even know). Some of my best-loved gifts from my bat-mitzvah were actually pieces of jewelry, since the bat mitzvah signifies the child’s transition into a kind of adulthood and jewelry-wearing felt very grown-up. You could purchase a relatively inexpensive charm/pendant, with either a religious or non-religious connotation. I recently bought a bat mitzvah a Hamsa, which is a palm-shaped amulet popular with both Muslims and Jews thought to ward off the evil eye. (I just think they’re pretty!) You can find cute ones for $30 or $40.

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Alicia January 26, 2012 at 9:24 am

I would hesitate to give jewlery when your connection is through family that owns a jewlery buisness. I would also hesitate to give money since employed in her family. Since several of your coworkers are not going and asking the same questions how about getting together and collectively giving a nice gift something adult. Depending on the amount of people and thus money give a nice classic adult gift within your collected means. Perhaps a classic black leather purse or an adult jewlery chest.

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Erin January 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I attended a cousin’s wedding in 2010 and gave a cash gift. I left the card on the gift table in the pile of other cards. I never received a thank you note; however, my parents (with whom i was living at the time) and other cousins did. I rarely see the couple, am not that close with them, and therefore felt awkward bringing it up. Now, nearly two years have gone by, and although it is too late to address at this point, I would like to know for future reference what would be the best way to handle this situation?
I do still fear that they may never have received the gift.

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Winifred Rosenburg January 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm

There is nothing wrong with asking if they received the gift. It is a fair question of concern.

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Alicia January 31, 2012 at 8:59 am

Give a check. Because then you know that they got the money at least. When the thank you notes went out you shoudl have asked. But at this point I would let it go.

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Carolyn Ford February 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

My son is met and engaged a young lady after only two months and now has discovered that she is expecting. Prior to discovering this, however, they were planning a courthouse ceremony so that they could live together off base (he’s in the Air Force) after she finishes her master’s program this spring. Her family was going to help plan a summer wedding but now feel it should be moved up to save face with their family and friends. They are opposed to that and plan on doing a “wedding” next year after baby arrives and they’re settled in and the rest of our family are back from overseas. At least that’s how it currently stands.

We have yet to meet our new daughter-in-law but expect to do so soon. My question is: Is there any correct or incorrect way to reach out to her parents if there is not going to be a wedding planned by them? Is it even necessary for us to communicate with them as they are very religious and unhappy with the turn of events. Our son did ask for her hand from the father and was given permission only before the baby news came out. We understand that she is under great stress from her folks. I might add that these are not kids. She’s 25 and he’s 26. I haven’t been able to find and direction with regard to the relationship between sets of in-laws. Obviously I would like it to be an amicable one. We have a wonderful friendship with our other son’s in-laws who we met for the first time at their wedding (although much planning was done via phone). Your suggestions would be appreciated.

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Winifred Rosenburg February 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

Congratulations on your grandchild! It is probably best that you don’t interfere with an issue between your future daughter-in-law and her parents. In the course of wedding preparation, there will most likely be one or two occasions when you get a chance to talk to the in-laws in a not forced way (like the rehearsal dinner). You can take that opportunity to be friendly with them and establish a relationship. If you decide to host any events for the couple, like an engagement party, you can certainly invite the parents.

In the meantime, you should put your efforts to being supportive of your son and his bride in this stressful time in their lives. The problem with her parents will most likely work itself out at least shortly after the baby is born. They won’t want to give up the privelege of being grandparents and will make amends for that sake.

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Christina February 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm

My Fiance and I are getting married in the beginning of September and have somewhat of a family dilemma going on. My Fiance’s sister insists that she be in my wedding, when we don’t really get along and she has specifically said that she does not like me. My Fiance and her are not even that close any more as well. Out of respect and obligation, I asked her to be in my wedding and she is clearly not expressing any interest. My maid of honor has been sending emails and she has not responded. The kicker is, she got engaged in November, and is having her wedding in Hawaii-where she lives. She is not asking my Fiance to be in the wedding, and she planned her wedding LESS than a month after ours. Our wedding is in Colorado, and are shelling out a lot of money for our own wedding. I do not think we will have the means to attend hers. Plus, a lot of immediate family are not going to be able to attend both. What is the best way to go about asking her to not be in the wedding anymore, or do I have to suck it up and deal with her? We already said we will probably not make hers, but she kinds of needs to expect that when she planned her wedding so close to ours. I understand we all get our day, but I don’t want her putting a damper on my day, and I just don’t understand if she was having a destination wedding as well why it was so close to our date?

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Alicia February 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Well you already asked her to be in the wedding so you are stuck with her in the wedding. Simply do not expect anything of her except to show up in a dress and walk down the aisle.
You should not kick her out that is unkind as well as way more family drama then you need. Just have her show up and walk really makes little to no difference. No bridesmaid is ever obligated to do more then just show up in attire and walk and she is unlikely to do more that is probably for the best.

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Just Laura February 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I’m with Alicia in that you invited her to be a bridesmaid, and so she’s a bridesmaid. You’re right that many family members will be unable to make both weddings, but that shouldn’t be your concern. That said, if her behavior really gets to be too much (won’t try on a dress, refuses to wear what you picked out, etc.) then you may have to send a letter/email asking if the stress of her wedding is too much, also letting her know you won’t be upset if she must bow out of bridesmaid responsibilities.

Just so you know, she isn’t having a destination wedding. A destination wedding is where the bride and groom travel to a location usually far from their home. She lives in Hawaii, so she isn’t traveling far at all.

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Christina February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

She isn’t traveling at all, but all of our family and her fiance’s family. So what do you call that?

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Winifred Rosenburg February 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

A wedding far from her family and her fiance’s family. Sorry, there’s no special name for it. Destination wedding, however, implies that she just picked a spot that she liked but that neither she nor her fiance had ever lived near.

Just Laura February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

A wedding. She is very fortunate that she lives in Hawaii. My matron of honor had to fly from Hawaii to my wedding in Oklahoma. Many of my husband’s family is from St. Louis, and his father’s side is from England (they couldn’t make it). My wedding in Oklahoma was hardly a destination wedding, though it was quite a trek for them, and too far of a destination for others.

I will be the first to admit that she did not consider the difficulties that might be faced by her guests with this chosen location. Still, if you can’t make it, then you can’t make it. Focus on your own wedding. I’m sure it will be amazing.

Alicia February 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

A wedding in the Brides hometown or homestate.

kmentz February 11, 2012 at 12:06 am

Good day to everyone! I’m hoping I can get a straight answer to a question I have been discussing with my friends. I came across this site when I tried looking up the proper etiquette for baby showers.

If you already have a child, is it proper etiquette to have a baby shower for your second, third, forth child? I am aware that to many people it’s acceptable. I was raised that it’s one baby shower that is “proper,” it didn’t matter if your previous child was a difference sex or if you were on your third child. If you keep having kids you should be able to provide the things they need instead of getting new gifts every single time. I was raised to believe that you can celebrate their births without having gifts every time.

I would never skip a friend’s shower, no matter how many kids they had. I just want the official baby shower etiquette.

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Winifred Rosenburg February 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

You’re right. Baby showers are only for the first baby. The reason is the family should still have all the basics from its older child.

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Conservative Dad February 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

My hope is that this question seems as bizarre to all of the readers as it does to me. I’m a 45-year-old dad, very well educated, and have a great career. My soon to be 15-year-old daughter has a boyfriend a year older than her and they’ve been going out for about 9 months. We’ve been living in Texas for almost 3 years but will soon be leaving. My wife wants to invite him to visit us at our next home (800 miles away) or possibly to visit with us at Thanksgiving at my in-laws house in Florida (with their permission).

This just seems absolutely absurd to me given their ages. I think he’s an okay boy and I’ve been tolerant of them seeing each other mostly because she’s young and I don’t expect anything to come of it–she’s not even 15 yet! But I’m deeply disturbed by my wife’s efforts to extend the relationship. She’s an attractive, smart girl and as much as I want grandchildren one day, I want her to take her time and select a mate only after she’s old enough to figure out what she really wants.

Just in case it’s not already obvious, yes, I married too young. The boyfriend’s mom also married very young (now divoreced) and her oldest son is marrying very young. Not the kind of family I want my daughter to marry into at any age…

Is it reasonable for parents to invite an out-of-town high school boy to stay with them so he can visit their daughter?

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Winifred Rosenburg February 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’m sorry to break this to you, but parents have very little effect on when and to whom they get married. I imagine what your wife is trying to do is make a move, which is an upsetting thing for teenagers who will have to start over making new friends, less traumatic. It seems like a very thoughtful thing for your wife to do that will not in any way cause your daughter to get married any earlier. In the unlikely event that your daughter ends up marrying this boy, wouldn’t you rather they maintain a close relationship with you because you allowed him to visit her than she be bitter toward you for stopping her from seeing him for no good reason?

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Elizabeth February 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I agree with Winifred that your wife is likely bringing up this visit in order to soothe your daughter, who may be feeling conflicted about the move. However, once you do move, your wife should back off the issue and follow your daughter’s lead. It is super likely that she will make new friends, get a crush on a new boy and forget all about the old one. You should not try to discourage her if she tries to keep in contact with her old boyfriend. The most likely course of things is that she will gradually shift her attention to her new social milieu – after all, it sounds like she has at least a couple more years to go in high school and probably would not like to spend in mooning over someone she never gets to see.

But to answer your original question, I agree with you and do find it odd that your wife is actively encouraging the relationship. The best thing to do is stay neutral and let your daughter ASK to have him visit rather than you or your wife bringing it up.

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Alicia February 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

I was dating a boy when we moved when I was 14 and one of my other sisters was 15 we both had boyfriends. My parents said that we could stay in touch via phone calls and letters ( email did not exist commonly yet) and if a few months later we still wanted to organize a get together they would help us make it happen. By simply pushing the time to plan out 6 months what happened is that we and teh biys all moved on and naturally lost contact and had nothing in common any more. So yes agree to consider a visit in 6 months but that no plans are to be made for 3-4 months until settled. They will lose contact and have nothing in common.

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DeeDee February 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I just received a thank you card for a surprise birthday party held over a year ago. The husband of an acquaintance asked for help in planning his wife’s 50th birthday. The “help” he wanted was for me to plan the whole party, i.e. selecting and mailing out the invitations, completing the invitation list, working with the restaurant, buying decorations, etc. Then yesterday, I received a card in the mail (with an explanation on the back of the envelope that the Thank you card was found in a bag in her closet). I don’t know how to respond to this.

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Elizabeth February 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

No response is necessary. It sounds like these people are not good friends and that you have distanced yourself since. While you probably imagine that it would feel really good to give these people a piece of your mind, the polite thing to do would be to simply carry on with your life.

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Elaine February 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I had a friend recently write on my social networking page after finding out from mutual friends about my engagement. She wrote that she hopes she is invited to the wedding. Unfortunately, with the costs of a wedding and my budget, I had not considered her to be on the guest list prior to this incident. Should I just find the extra money to invite her to save myself any confrontational issues or should I simply let her know that as much as I would love to invite everyone I could to the wedding, I just can’t?

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Just Laura February 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm

This was very presumptuous of her, but I’m sure she only meant well by it. If I were you (I was in your situation less than a year ago), I would ignore it due to the very casual nature of her finding out, and then posting on your page (instead of a more personal phone call, private message or email). If she happens to contact you in a personal manner, I suggest the following reply, “We are so excited, but haven’t yet settled on a formal guest list. It will be a very intimate gathering” (you may say that the ceremony will be small or the gathering intimate even if you invite 300 people).

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Beth February 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm

If I had a baby shower for my first baby is it rude to have another baby shower or sprinkle for my second expected arrival? if it’s okay to throw a sprinkle- how do i differentiate the point is not for gift giving? Please advise. Thanks!

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Just Laura February 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Answered your question here.

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Tammy February 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Our oldest daughter married a man twenty years older then herself. This happened almost a year ago without our knowledge. She was married in a church which I was so thankful for, but with no family from her side and no reception. No professional pictures nothing at all that I had dreamed fro her. As the surprise has wore off I feel I need to do something I am not sure what is proper. And how or what kind of a reception do I plan for family, friends. I need help and direction. Please advise. Thanks!!!!!!

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Elizabeth February 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm

The person to ask is really your daughter and her husband. I would probably avoid calling this a wedding reception or anything related to her wedding, as that already happened quite some time ago. Alternatively you could throw a ‘welcome to the family’ party that could be at a fancy restaurant or as casual as a backyard bbq. This would be designed to introduce her husband to the rest of your family who presumably hasn’t gotten to know him yet. I’m sorry that you had to miss your daughter’s wedding, that must have been difficult.

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Alicia February 27, 2012 at 9:09 am

First the time has past for wedding reception that was a year ago. If your daughter and her husband made this choice it is unlikely that they wanted the big fuss event. Please talk to them. To host an anniversary party may be a good option if that is what the couple would like. But perhaps you need to just accept that this is what they made as a choice for their wedding and that as long as they are happy with it you should move on and not plan anytghing in their honor. If you want to get your friends and family together just do so.

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Irene February 29, 2012 at 2:19 am

I often go on trips with my boyfriend and his family and their close friends. On this trips, my boyfriend’s parents pay for everything and they don’t take my money when I offer. I feel very embarrassed and don’t know what is the proper way to thank them or repay them for all that they have spent on me. What is the proper way to go about this and how do I handle the same situation in the future should I go on trips with them again? Thanks.

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Just Laura February 29, 2012 at 10:28 am

Could you take them out to dinner once you return from these trips as a “thank you”?

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Winifred Rosenburg February 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

My parents are the same way so I understand their mentality. They likely won’t accept you taking them out to dinner. What you can do is 1) thank them each time they pay for something for you, 2) get them a gift either on the trip or sent to them after the trip, and 3) send them a thank-you note. If you get the opportunity, you can also have them over your home for dinner as that will make it more difficult for them to grab the check before you.

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Zakafury February 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I have some experience with visiting my boyfriend’s parents across the country and vacationing with them a bit closer to to home. I absolutely adore them and really enjoy the effort of shopping for holiday gifts whether I’m visiting or not, but I have no sent a thank you gift. I do make a point of sending a thank you note after staying with them.

If you’re up to the task, and the accommodations allow for it, you might offer to cook the group a meal. It’s much harder to decline an offer of effort than an offer of money.

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Elizabeth March 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I wanted to connect A good friend (who is English) with a neighbor (both their husbands were both architects). I mentioned this to my friend and she asked me to ask my neighbor to a casual dinner at her house with all of us invited.
I called the neighbor and extended the invite, from my friend, for us to all have dinner at my friend’s house. It made sense to me since my friend did not know the neighbor at all and might feel odd just calling her up out of the blue. So what did Miss petty neighbor do? She threw a verbal fit about how “innapropriate” it was for me to call her and invite her and not my friend, who didn’t know her at all. Instead of being grateful and happy that someone wanted to invite her and her husband to dinner, or that I wanted to connect her with these people, she acted like a petulant drama queen about her version of “etiquette.” That was the last time she was ever invited to anything!
People need to be thankful when someone is inviting them to anything, not immature and petty about “How” the invite was presented. What is your take on this?

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Winifred Rosenburg March 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

You’re right. That was very foolish of her to get upset when all you were trying to do was help her to make new friends, a very kind thing.

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Elizabeth March 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

I also found out she is on antidepressants which could be why she behaves the way she does, friendly one day, pretends not to see you the next.
What I would really like to know is if there is any sort of written etiquette about who can do the inviting in a situation like this. Was she just making this up about it being bad etiquette for me to have invited her instead of my friend calling her?

I know she comes from a working class background in West Virginia, so I would be surprised if she was actually up on standard etiquette. Perhaps she is overcompensating or is just a bit kooky.

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Isabella March 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I have a good friend who does something that I find rather insensitive and hurtful. She will tell me about luncheons or outings she is having with other friends, while not inviting me to these luncheons/outings which SHE herself has organized. It feels like, “by the way, here’s something fun you’re NOT invited to…” Should I say anything about how it makes me feel when she does this, or what would you suggest?

This same person also continues to go into detail about the life events of one of her acquaintances who she knows treated me very, very badly, even after I asked her not to discuss this person with me in the future.

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Winifred Rosenburg March 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm

This sounds like a very inconsiderate person. Because she already failed to honor one simple request you made, I can’t imagine what success you’ll have bringing up another. I would reconsider if I wanted to be friends with this person if I were you.

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Elaine April 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm

My niece is graduating from college and seating is limited, of course. The university will be broadcasting it via live feed in another location on campus. In addition, she and her family are not sending out graduation announcements nor hosting a gathering afterwards.

We have in the past attended all family graduations, so this could be a possible sticky situation. Should we be expected to attend if we will not have seating, only be able to visit with our niece briefly outside after leaving the alternate location, and have to pay for our meal on the way home?

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Alicia April 11, 2012 at 8:02 am

Sounds like your neice has not invited people to her graduation as she realizes that they are not allowing sufficent seating. You thus have no reason to think you need attend the graduation. ( actually she may even be skipping it- I skipped mine as it was a monstrosity like that ) As you are proud of and happy for her why not take her out to dionner some other time or do something to help her get her feet as an adult.
But you have no reason to go to the graduation if not invited and that huge and impresonal. Skip it have fun and do something nice for your neice at a slightly different time.

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DD April 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Are you expected to send a gift to a cousin that you have not spoke to or seen in years for their childs communion that is in a different state? Also how do you handle aquitances that send you invitations to baby showers, when you have not spoke to them or have not seen them in a few years?

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Winifred Rosenburg April 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

The communion gift is optional. RSVP “no” to the showers.

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Alicia April 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

RSVP promptly. Send a card or letter or congrats to the kid doing first communion

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DD April 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

Thank you for your input. I did not rsvp because I felt uncomfortable calling and saying no (the invitation did not offer an email or text). Thank you, next time I will be able to handle this situation better.

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Elizabeth April 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

I too have felt uncomfortable calling to RSVP – luckily I was in contact with the host via email, so I could do it that way. But in the future I will be sure to include a non-phone avenue for any large events I host. (of course, a card or letter in the mail would do just as well.)

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Alicia April 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Oh darn, the only obligation you have when you recieve an invite is to RSVP. There is nothing more obnoxious as a host then to invite people and not know if they are attending ( ie do i need food for 1, 10, or 100 people)
If you do not want to call RSVP in writing on your personal stationary is always nice.
But even if you purposefully call when you know you are going to get voicemail you really should RSVP quickly particularkly when not attending.

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DD May 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I have another question this time it is on my sisters behalf. My sisters son is graduating highschool in few weeks and the problem is our dad does not speak to his sisters that live in another state. ( Four years ago they (sisters and families) stayed at our parents house for a wedding and we know there was some sort of arguement, but we do not know the whole story or why). However, my sister would like to send his announcement to the family but when she asked our dad he told her he would rather she just send the announcement to his brother only. Some of the other cousins send our parents Christmas pictures and announcements etc. My sister is torn and does not feel it is fair to her and her son. What should she do?

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Winifred Rosenburg May 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I don’t see how your dad has anything to do with this. If she were inviting them to a party that your dad was attending, it would be different. An announcement doesn’t have to involve your dad in anyway. If your sister wants send them an announcement, that’s her decision. If I were her, I wouldn’t involve my dad in these types of decisions.

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Kelley Weaver June 25, 2012 at 11:48 am

My son is getting married next year and a question regarding what the extremely strong-willed father of the bride wants to wear has already become an issue. Against my son’s and future daughter’s-in-law wishes, he wants to wear the same attire as the groomsmen.

They are hoping there is a “rule” against the father of the bride matching the groomsmen.

Thanks.
Kelley

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Alicia June 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm

No there is no rule agaist the father of the bride matching the groomsmen actually quite commonly they purposefully match as the father of the bride is a man in the wedding in that he is walking the bride down the aisle ( often not always) I would actually say at most weddings I attend the father of the bride matches or is very similar attire to the groomsmen.

It is a year out seriously neither side should be getting so worked up over this . If he wants to wear the same thing let him wear the same thing it does not hurt anyone else and makes him feel special. Yes he should do whatever his daughter and soon to be son in law want in this respect but seriously this should not be a contentious issue a year out and both groups should be giving way. Also mens attire is very generic in terms of special occasions nobody will think twice about it either matching or not matching .

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Pam August 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I am going to fly across country to stay with my beloved 3 year old niece while my brother and sister-in-law go on their 10 year anniversary trip. We discussed this last year but they had to delay the trip until now. Since then I have been laid off my job. While I am on severence, it is coming to an end soon and my income status is unknown at this point. I absolutely want to go, this one-on-one time with my niece is precious to me. However, its going to cost me about $500 to go. I need to stretch my funds out right now. I’d like to ask them to split the cost of my travel. Is this reasonable if so, how do you suggest I handle this?

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Elizabeth August 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Well, you are doing your brother a BIG favor by providing child-care while they go on vacation. I would just explain that your financial situation has changed since you made the offer (you can explain as much or as little as you like), and while you are really looking forward to spending the time with your niece, you were wondering if they could help offset the travel costs. Be vague, see what they can offer. It’s possible that money is tight for them as well. If they ask what you want, be straightforward and suggest splitting the cost of the airfare. You should probably determine in advance how their response will affect your decision. If they can’t give you any money, will you still go? If they pony up, and you end up starting the new job very soon, will you pay them back?

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Pam August 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Thanks for the reply Elizabeth. You wouldn’t happen to be my sister-in-law Elizabeth would you? Now wouldn’t that be perfect?! :-)

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Elizabeth August 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Of course, my pleasure!
But unfortunately I am not : (
That would be awesome to find something like that out, though!

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Sarah Amutha September 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm

My friend is getting married, for the third time. Her first marriage was 4 years ago, the second was last year and she is finalising on her divorce. Now, she is getting married for the 3rd time (in due time) and I was wondering on whether “Do I still need to buy her wedding gifts?”. The gifts given previously were pretty expansive. What would be the acceptable thing to do?

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Elizabeth September 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Technically, you are not obligated to buy her a second (or third wedding gift). I can see how three weddings in 4 years for one person could be quite taxing to the pocketbook. However, I personally would not feel right going to a wedding without some token of my affection and good wishes. This could be something much less expensive – a “token” and not some big outlay. If she has a shower, you should simply decline to attend.

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Sarah Amutha September 5, 2012 at 4:27 am

Elizabeth, thank you for your reply. Yes, I too would not feel right for not bringing a token. As per your advice, I would however, depreciate the gift value (of course to have care as to not appear as being stingy). Thank you once again!

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Lauren October 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a year and a half and his sister invited me to spend Christmas with them in Utah (I live in CA). My boyfriend’s family from all over the country will be joining as well. I’ve met them all before in brevity. (There are 4 siblings, their respective spouses and children, and my boyfriends parents and their respective new spouses). My family does not generally exchange gifts for Christmas so I am at a loss of what the real etiquette of gift giving should be in my present circumstance. Please help?

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Oiliva November 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

What is the proper introduction when introducing your “boyfriend” (will not use) to others when we are both over 50 yrs old? Have been using friend and He doesnt like that either. He thinks it doesn’t come across that we are together.
thanks

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Elizabeth November 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

You could use the term ‘partner.’ It definitely gets the point across that you are together in a romantic relationship, but leaves aside what ‘level’ the relationship is at (dating, married, etc). If you want to be more tongue-in-cheek about it, you could introduce him as your ‘gentleman friend.’ : ) I assume you do not want to use ‘boyfriend’ because it seems to youngish, but it is actually the correct term for your relationship.

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Winifred Rosenburg November 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Unfortunately there really is no good term. Boyfriend sounds juvenile, friend is unclear, they all have drawbacks you you have to choose the one you dislike the least. Partner is another possibility as Elizabeth suggested but generally implies that you live together. Other choices include “significant other” and “companion.” If I were you, I would go with “beau.”

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Chocobo November 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I will add one more option: the traditional term for two adults who are dating is the demure “my good friend.” It implies to others that your relationship is somewhere greater than friends, but less than marriage. And honestly, isn’t that all they really need to know?

At any rate, your good friend may rest assured that everyone knows the level of your relationship when you always seem to arrive and leave together.

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Susie December 27, 2012 at 1:49 am

I had an odd experience this holiday and would like to hear your perspective on it.

I invited a couple to our home for Christmas and they accepted. When I called her about a week before to arrange the last details, she told me they had another invitation and the other couple really wanted them to come. I was surprised and, to be honest, a little hurt.

I ask her to let me know what their plans were. She said she would have to check if the other invitation was still open and she would let me know right away what their plans were. Three days later she left a voice mail saying they were going to the other couple’s house. She added that they would like to get together with us some other time. I called her back and left a message that I had gotten her voice mail and wouldn’t expect them for dinner.

She later called and wanted us to re-arrange our weekend plan so that we could get together and hinted that they would like a backup invitation to dinner in case they couldn’t make the trip to the other couples home. I declined to get together, explaining that we already had plans with our house guests. I didn’t extend a back-up invitation.

This incident left me feeling uneasy about continuing our friendship with this couple. What is your view of the situation?

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Jody December 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

Susie, that experience would leave me feeling uneasy as well. Good for you in not rearranging plans when this couple wanted a backup invitation. I would refrain from inviting them to occasions where the numbers do matter — such as a dinner for a specified number of people, or a get-together with just you and them. I wouldn’t hesitate to invite them to a group party, though, because if they decided not to show up it likely wouldn’t make that much of a difference to your arrangements.

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Aryastark January 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm

I was really unsure of how to address an issue with my inlaws. They haven’t had little children around for years, but I’m really concerned about them babysitting as they haven’t done anything to child-proof the house. I’m trying to give them an article about best child safety products but without coming across as hard-nosed. Any suggestions how to handle my dilemma?

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Alicia January 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

How about asking them to babysit at your house?

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Jennie Dodd January 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm

What should the father and step-father (since age of 3) of the groom wear to the wedding if neither one is the best man? This is a formal wedding at 7 p.m. and I (mother of the groom) will be wearing a long formal dress. So, of course, I’m concerned with my escort’s (my husband/step-father’s) attire :) My son’s father has also asked me what he should wear. I’ve asked the bride, but she said she didn’t know, so I don’t think it is an issue with her, but would like to do what is right.
I look forward to your advice!

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Alicia January 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Both of the gentlemen should dress in the formality of the wedding. This is a formal wedding at 7pm so tux or really nice suit. Ask the groom if he wants the fathers/stepfathers wearing the same tux as the wedding party or not. Either way is fine. If same tux as wedding party for fathers then that is the attire they should wear if not, then a nice fitting tux or very formal suit is appropriate for both of these gentlemen. If not matching the groomsmen then they may ( but are in no way required) decide to use their ties or accessories to coordinate with their lovely wives attire. I am certain that they can both look very daper.

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Winifred Rosenburg January 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

The fathers should all dress the same as the groom.

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Virginia Williams February 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm

My brother married a lovely woman two years ago with grown children from a previous marriage. I barely know her children. Yet, her son has friended me on facebook and now is referring to me as “auntie.” For some reason this makes more completely uncomfortable. He has done the same thing with my sister and he has made a pass at her! EWWWW. How do I tell him I don’t feel comfortable with him referring to me as his “auntie” and why does it bug me so much?

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Elizabeth February 18, 2013 at 8:31 am

Why don’t you just defriend him? It sounds like you don’t often see your SIL’s children, so they can’t really count properly as friends. This guy sounds like a creeper and should be avoided.

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Alicia February 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

Next time he refers to you as auntie just say you prefer to be called by your name instead. Stand by that. If you want you may defriend on facebook there is no requirement to be facebook friends.

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Emily April 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Hello, I’m looking for some advice. This is the situation:

My friend came in to a lot of money a few years ago. He moved to The Netherlands to work on a Ph.D, and is almost finished with school. We’ve maintained contact over the 4 years he’s been gone, and he recently told me he wants to buy me a plane ticket to Europe, so we can travel together. I’m very excited, and want to accept, because I do not have the money to fly to Europe right now. However, I feel bad accepting this plane ticket gift, and feel that if I do accept it, I’ll have to travel mostly where he wants to travel. First of all, should I accept the gift? Second of all, if I do accept it, can I pick some of the destinations? And, how can I repay him without actually repaying him for the ticket?

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CONFUSED July 31, 2013 at 8:39 am

My spouse is retiring and his co-workers from his department are planning a retirement party at a casual facility away from the office as is the tradition with his employer. His employer has thousands of employees so they send out an email bulletin as a way of announcing details, etc. and whoever wants to or can attend buys a ticket which includes light refreshments and finger foods as well as helps contribute to the gift.

Having never attended one of these functions I wonder if:

1. Since invitations are not sent out other than the email do I assume that I am invited. The same for our young adult children. I feel that as the spouse of many years that it would be natural to assume I would attend but some of the “etiquette” of this company makes me wonder, such as the idea that attendees are all expected to purchase a ticket in order to come. This seems inappropriate to me as it is like asking wedding guests to buy tickets to the wedding and reception! Yes, I know, it includes the gift but still not everyone who wants to come can afford $30.00 a ticket.

2. Assuming I/we go, should I/we also be expected to purchase a ticket/s !? Obviously we have already purchased our own gift and I don’t see us making a huge dent in the food and drink.

I feel very awkward about this situation because I’m not sure who to ask about it. The employees seem to forget that because they know the routine in these situations they forget that other people do not and don’t communicate well outside their own circle.

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Alicia July 31, 2013 at 9:07 am

Ask your husband. He has been with this company a long time and surely knows if spouses and children are invited or not. He also knows if he is given a few guest tickets or not. I would default to not invited and of I invited having to pay for tickets.

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Elizabeth July 31, 2013 at 11:00 am

I agree – ask him!
I would assume that you DO have to buy tickets if you attend. He clearly works at a place that can’t or doesn’t pay for retirement parties, so they have to be self-funded. It isn’t like a wedding. Hence, the tickets. It also sounds like a work party. If you want to have a retirement party with family and friends, you may have to throw a separate event.

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debbie francis July 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm

When a co-worker loses a relative, we send out a sympathy card. Depending on who sends it -sometimes everyone signs it and writes little comments, other times we send it from all of your friends from work . I would like to know what is the best way to sign a sympathy card from a group?

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Elizabeth July 31, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Either is fine, but I’m sure it is more meaningful for the person receiving it to get individual signatures and little messages. When it is sent from ‘friends at work’, I would take that to mean ‘from the office manager in charge of doing such things.’

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Jennifer October 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I have been dating a guy for 1.5 years, although we are not officially boyfriend/girlfriend, and a couple that I met through him just got married. Do we give a joint gift or separate gifts? The groom is a long-time friend of his and we all vacationed together last winter so I’m also friendly with them as well.

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Alicia October 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Joint or separate gifts has nothing to do with your relationship with your boyfriend. If you both want to give a gift together do so. If not then give separate gifts. Even friends sometimes get together for group gifts.

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Leslie October 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm

My father and stepmother do not like the gifts we choose and she recently sent out a note about how the types of presents we’ve selected in the past are no longer wanted, along with detailed instructions for future gifts. My father has not participated in gift-giving for birthdays or holidays for many years (my stepmother does all the shopping and wrapping and he’s often unaware what she’s even chosen, although we always give each of them gifts for birthdays and Christmas and Father’s Day — indeed my father expects them). I feel uncomfortable and hurt. Is there a way to respond politely?

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Winifred Rosenburg October 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm

“I’m sorry you didn’t like the gifts we carefully selected for you. In the future we won’t subject you to the burden of our gifts.”

If people don’t show gratitude for your generosity, you do not have to continue being generous.

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Lynne December 19, 2013 at 3:11 am

I know that the answer to this quandary, but I am aghast anyway.

My husband and I are hosting a small Holiday open house (20 people) . We sent out invitations with rsvp details. One invitee whose invitation included 2 parents and their 2 young adult sons responded saying that ” they will be 5 as one of the son’s girlfriend is visiting and will be attending as well” . The did not ask if it was ok with their hosts to bring an extra person but rather announced that they were. Though 1 person is not a big deal, I find this incredibly rude.

Perhaps even more so because this family, when having dinners or parties, does not hesitate to make a point to contact their invitees to tell them what to bring, or have them sign up to bring something on an e-vite. This is always surprising to me because they and other members of their family are very financially comfortable, well educated (private schools and universities ) (though obviously not that well) and come from families that should know better. Complicating matters is that they are relatives so we can’t disown them. They are thoughtful in other ways though – ie calling when someone is ill. We never ask people to bring something to our home when we are the hosts.

I want to say something, even in jest, but know I should not, I should be a bigger person.

Please help me bite my tongue !! Comments please – why are people so rude!

Thank you.

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Jane January 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm

My husband’s grown niece who is a single mother loves to invite him for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner but I don’t care to go because the two of them focus on each other throughout the evening, mostly giggling in the kitchen, while I sit squeezed among her noisy and rude children. I prefer not to go and this year I stepped aside and he went without me. I made a delicious turkey dinner at home. After taking his niece and her kids to the movies he came home for dinner with me and our kids. I’m trying to set a precedent here so it becomes an understanding that I am busy cooking at home and won’t be coming. Have I done the wrong thing?

Thank you.

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Elizabeth January 5, 2014 at 11:00 pm

You have broken no rules of etiquette. You are permitted to decline invitations. Since you and your husband have your own family to celebrate with, why not encourage him to spend time other than on major holidays with his niece? It sounds as though they have a nice bond, and it isn’t something to discourage. Perhaps you could invite her and her children to one of your family’s celebrations instead?

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Jan H February 11, 2014 at 11:34 am

My son’s in laws live three hours away. I didn’t invite them to our very casual Christmas party. Was I wrong?

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Elizabeth February 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm

There is no answer to whether or not you were “wrong.” If someone was upset about them not being invited, the best thing to do would be to apologize and invite them next year.

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CiCi February 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Is it appropriate to send out letters for my parents to go on a vacation for their 50th Wedding Anniversary instead of having a celebration because they said they would like to travel instead of using alot of money for a party.

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Alicia February 20, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I am not sure what sort of letters you are thinking of. If your parents would rather spend their money on a trip then hosting a party that is lovely and a fine choice. If you mean you wish to send them a letter of congrats to say their hotel on their vacation also lovely and wonderful. If you mean sending out letters to their friends and family asking for money to send them on this trip that would be greedy and tacky. So depends what sort of letters you are thinking about.

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Di February 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Help please! I’m devastated at recent events surrounding a surprise birthday party for my eldest daughter. Her partner contacted me, asking for help with logistics, in order that they could have 4 extra guests sleep at their flat. I live 100 miles south of my daughter and boyfriend. Her friends live 100 miles north, however I also offered to arrange transport and a distraction for my daughter (coffee and a snack after uni) whilst guests arrived at the venue. Rather embarrassingly I assumed that I was invited. My offer of transport and keeping my daughter entertained received no reply. I apologised and jokingly smoothed over my faux pas by commenting that I understood if this was a gig for under 25s, again no reply. My younger daughter has been invited and I now understand that this is not just a night out where my daughter will be surprised at the arrival of her sister and close friends. It would appear that the boyfriend’s family have booked a venue and his mother is preparing a buffet. I don’t understand why I have been snubbed in this way and the distress has made me feel quite ill. I really don’t know what to do about the party and future relations with my daughter’s boyfriend.

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Elizabeth February 24, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I can certainly sympathize with your feeling excluded. It sounds as though the boyfriend is still pretty immature – he is clearly planning a friends-only party, but can’t quite figure out how to tell you directly. The fact that his mom is making the food doesn’t mean that all of his family is invited. I would speak to your daughter who is invited – does she get the sense that this is a friends party, with lots of drinking and other activities that you wouldn’t want mom around for? If they are in their early 20s, I would give them a pass. Yes, they are not handling things well (by either inviting you or by clearly explaining the nature of the event), but you should try to plan something independently with your daughter to celebrate her birthday.

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Kelly March 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I’m getting married to a wonderful man. Everything I could wish for. I was with my ex for 14 years and his family were my family. We were so close. I’m also Godmother to his sister’s children and cards are always swapped as ‘daughter, mother, etc.) We have still kept in touch regularly, however, although I love them dearly, I keep putting off seeing them as it brings back past memories as my ex broke my heart. We would always laugh after our break up that they’d be at my happy wedding day with my new man. Now the time has come, do I invite them?! I’d rather not but can’t find the right thing to say.

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Stephanie March 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

My sister-in-law wants to have her baby shower four days before my wedding which we have been planning for months. Is she inconsiderate to want to have it so close to my wedding or I am being selfish?

I should mention that she says she is doing this because she has a lot of trips planned for the year and because she wants my mother-in-law who is flying from another state for our wedding to to in her baby shower as well. Kind of killing two birds with one stone kind of thing.

I usually just go along with everything to avoid problems and confrontations but I feel that she had her wedding day already and I should have mine too and so I ask her to change the date. She did but they are both giving me subtle and passive-aggressive messages that it is what is most convenient for everybody and that I kind of ruined their plans. What should I do? Please help. I feel awful!

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Alicia March 20, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Four days before your wedding is not your wedding and a baby shower will not take away from you or anything. Also you have no say in the date and time unless you are the hostess.
Don’t make a fuss about it unless you are the shower hostess accept or decline based on your own schedule.

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Stephanie March 21, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Thank You! I needed an opinion from someone outside the situation.

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val June 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

My husband and I are happily paying for our daughters wedding. Our issue is this; our daughter and her fiance want email invitations that state “together with their loved ones, bride and groom invite you….”. My husband and I would like traditional invites with our names as hosts listed at the top. Is that AM unreasonable request?

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Alicia June 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Both of you have reasonable requests. So daughter and soon to be son in law have a reasonable request and you and husband have a reasonable request. It could go either way but the thing to remember is what is the goal. Is the goal to make a point of your hosting? IS the goal to provide daughter with lovely wedding? Is the goal to be inclusive of family members and potentially deal with some sticky family relationships on the grooms side? To know why each of you wants the wording you want and to discuss it reasonably and determine as a group of adults what is the best option is the key. Perhaps a compromise? Paper invites with together with their families wording?

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David June 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

You must explain to your daughter that your paying for her wedding is conditional, and that you hold certain veto powers. Once that is understood, you should have few conflicts.

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Clarissa June 12, 2014 at 11:57 am

This weekend my fiance and I have plans – which we’ve had for a few weeks and tickets are already purchased. This past Friday my sister decided she wanted to throw a birthday celebration for her husband the same night as our plans. We don’t want to cancel our plans as we’ve been looking forward to this event since we planned it but we are getting a lot of flack from my sister and other family members for missing the birthday event. I should mention the “celebration” is a dinner a local mexican restaurant and we will see the whole family the next day for Father’s Day.

Should we cancel our plans for theirs?

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Alicia June 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm

No you should say” Thanks for the invite but we already have plans and can not attend.” If they are being immature about it that is not your problem. Repeat that same exact phrase without adding any more detail. If you let them force you to change plans it will just make it worse down the line. We train people how to treat us and in this case standing politely but firmly your ground trains your family to respect your time and you.

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Jody June 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Given the circumstances I agree with Alicia — no reason you should change your plans. If your sister was that concerned about everybody attending she should have cleared the date with the entire family before organizing the event.

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Elizabeth June 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

“The birthday dinner is Saturday? Oh, that’s too bad, we have concert tickets already purchased. I wish you would have checked with us earlier. Well, we’ll see you the following day for Father’s Day!”

If they keep pressing: “If you make plans without us, you make those plans WITHOUT US.”

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Amy Evans July 22, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I have a nephew getting married in September. He and his fiancé have decided to only invite cousins 21 and over. This means that I have one son invited who is 22 and another son not invited because he is 17. I have never heard of splitting siblings. I have a sister in the same position with her children. Unsure of how to handle this when the invitation arrives (save the dates have been sent with our younger sons name omitted also conversations with the mother of the groom and groom have confirmed that younger cousins are not included).

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Winifred Rosenburg July 23, 2014 at 11:31 am

It is possible they’re doing this for legal reasons to make sure no one under-age gets his or her hands on alcohol at their reception. Regardless, you should handle it the same way you handle any invitation, by responding that you will or will not be attending.

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Elizabeth July 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

It’s hard to say what the reasoning behind this is, but I’m sure brides and grooms have come up against this when they want to allow older children but not infants and toddlers, in that case also splitting up siblings. Whatever the reason, it is clear who is invited to this wedding. All you need do is RSVP in a timely manner. It does not sound like this was personal (that is, I’m sure it was not that they specifically wanted to exclude your younger son.) If you can make the wedding, you should still do so and not allow this to create a rift in your larger family, it’s just not worth it. Plus, I can imagine that a 17 year old can think of many other activities he’d rather be doing than attending a family wedding.

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