Congradulations : How to announce a graduation but not ask for gifts

Q. I would like to send out college graduation announcement expressing that a gift is not necessary. how would you say ‘congratulations but no gift’ in the proper way?

A. A graduation announcement does not obligate the recipient to send you a gift – it is simply a great way to share your huge accomplishment and wonderful news. Some may send a gift, others will send a card, and still others will do nothing at all, but no recipient is required to send a gift.

Therefore, do not say ‘no gifts’ on your announcement. You may use the word of mouth method to let family and close friends know that you really do not want gifts. However, if you do receive them, accept them graciously and send a note in reply.

What’s the Deal With Meals? : Is it appropriate to order for your date?

Q. When I take my significant other out to dinner at a restaurant, I believe it is proper for her to tell me her choice from the menu and for me to order for her when the waiter arrives. She believes I am a controlling, sexist Neanderthal. Who is correct?

A. According to the Post Survey, three out of five women do not want men to order a meal for them at a restaurant. So you need to be absolutely sure how the person you are with feels about this issue before going ahead and ordering for her. Yours is the case where the rule itself matters not at all. What really matters is the confidence and courtesy you show by knowing how the other person wishes to be treated, and treating her accordingly.

The Plus One Problem : How to let someone know they can’t bring a guest

Q. My girlfriend invited a couple only to her daughters batmitzvah. They RSVP’d including their child. (who was not invited) How should she reply? Should she make a phone call and say I’m sorry only the two of you are invited, or should she send something in writing? I thought it was a good question, so I told her I would ask you.

A. It is understood that only those names appearing on the invitation/envelope are those invited to a party. Should someone say their children are coming, you should feel comfortable calling them to say that although their child (children) is/are adorable and you would love to include him/her/them, space just doesn’t permit and to make an exception for one family and not others would only cause hurt feelings ? but you hope she and her husband/date/fiance will be able to come even though the children can’t be included. That is pretty direct and clear, without being offensive.

Caterer Commission : How much do you tip a caterer?

Q. We are throwing a baby shower that we are having catered. What is the proper amount to tip the caterer?

A. You tip about 18 to 20% of the cost to be divided among the wait staff, if you are having the caterer serve. You are not expected to tip the caterer or business owner, although you may if you wish. In this case, you don’t use a percentage but consider his efforts, cooperation, creativity, etc. and your satisfaction and tip him accordingly, anywhere from $25 to $50, making it clear that that is for him. You can also give him the tip money for the staff and ask him to disperse it rather than trying to find all the workers and tip them individually.

Last Minute Mishap : What to do when people cancel plans

Q. A few weeks ago, I invited my cousin and her soon-to-be husband to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. They accepted immediately and we began discussions on logistics such as their accommodations and timing of the actual dinner.

The two were just married and, as we were saying our good-byes to them at their wedding, we told them we were looking forward to seeing them for Thanksgiving. My cousin informed me that she had since been invited out of town with another couple and would not be joining us.

It is my understanding that this was very rude – to accept an invitation and then decline for a better/different offer. My husband and I are very hurt/insulted and don’t know how to handle this without coming off as bitter or resentful. Any advice would be appreciated!

A. You are correct. It was rude of them to throw you over after your nice invitation. However, there may be circumstances she didn’t explain, such as a commitment her husband had already made. In that case, she would be hesitant to “blame” him and instead would leave it in rather an awkward place. Therefore, rather than remain hurt or insulted, or be bitter or resentful, let it go and give them another chance to be together another time.