Returning Rules : What to do when someone asks for a gift back

Q.  I went out with a man for almost two years. During that time we became engaged (the ring was a family heirloom). I did everything for him- bought him clothes, food, did his laundry and cleaned. I’m a college student and we didn’t live together- I did all these things out of the goodness of my heart because I truly loved him. He was very controlling.

He decided he wanted to break up. During the course of our relationship he had given me many lovely gifts, all for my birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. Now, three months later, he wants the jewelry back. What do I do?

A. The woman returns the engagement ring to the man – it was not a gift but rather a symbol of the engagement.  However, the jewelry your former fiancé gave you for all other occasions were gifts and needn’t be returned.

You Got Mail! : Can you send thanks via e-mail?

Q.  I have been receiving email ‘thank you’ notes for gifts that I have sent for various reasons.

Are email thanks you’s acceptable for receiving a gift (housewarming, baby, birthday, etc) or should hand-written notes still be sent? Does this vary by age?

A. Handwritten notes should be sent rather than email greetings. However, given how many people don’t write their thanks at all, an email thank-you is better than none at all.

Party Presents : Do you bring a gift to an Open House party?

Q. Is it customary to take a gift to an Open House party?

A. This depends on your community. Very often people do take a hostess gift, as a thank-you. It can be a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, something you make, a jar of jam, a couple of sets of cocktail napkins, a small plant. . .a token of your appreciation, along with a signed note so your hostess, who ordinarily doesn’t open it when you arrive, knows it is from you.

Hall Pass : Do you bear to the right when walking?

Q. Our daughter just started student teaching in an Elementary school is there any set wall to wall during periods from one classroom to another my wife and I were under the assumption that all walkers should bear to the right, is this proper?

A. Yes, pedestrians, whether on the street or in a school hallway, stay to the right. You are correct.

Baby Shower Situation : Who should throw a baby shower?

Q. My daughter is expecting her second child in December. She has a few friends, some co-workers, and lots of family, but I don’t think any of them are in a position to throw a baby shower for her. Would it be indelicate or otherwise rude for me to throw the shower for my daughter?

A. At one time, moms, grandmothers and sisters of the mom-to-be did not give showers. The reason for this is that a shower is a required-gift event, and it isn’t considered polite to request gifts for one’s adult children. Showers were customarily given by a friend or a friend of the family, or a more distant relative than a mom, grandmother, or sister. However, by today’s standards, it is fine for a mother to do so if she chooses.