Invitation Inquiry : Is it appropriate to invite yourself over?

Q. I was brought up to never invite myself to someone’s home for any reason.
(I’m 55 years of age) Is this still considered good manners? Also, is it still good manners never to interrupt someone else’s conversation?

I ask these questions, because I notice these behaviors seem to be common
place these days.

A. Both your questions have the same answer – yes, both are still considered good manners. You might call a close friend or family member to ask if you can stop by for the length of a cup of coffee to say hi, but otherwise you don’t issue invitations to yourself. One never interrupts. This is very self-centered behavior and is no more correct now than it was at any time before.

Tips on Tipping : How much to tip movers

Q. We will be moving to a new home 45 minutes away from our current home. The moving will be completed in 1 day (about 7 or 8 hours). How much do we tip the moving men? There will be 2 or 3 of them doing the job.

A. Movers are tipped at the completion of their service. The head mover is tipped from $25 to $50 and the crew members from $15 to $20 each depending on the amount they have moved, the difficulty of the move and the care they have taken with your possessions. If they also have packed your belongings for moving, tips increase accordingly.

Dodging Debates : How to politely change the subject

Q. How do I gracefully get out of a political discussion. Things get pretty heated when discussing politics. I rarely bring up politics, but what should I do when someone starts a political conversation and I want to politely avoid it. I find discussing politics often brings up bad feelings and is very divisive. Thank you.

A. Say just that. “Whoa, I really am interested in your opinions, but I’ve been in too many discussions that became arguments lately when it came to politics, so if it’s okay with you, I’d rather hear your opinion about . . . . whatever is less sensitive a topic. Or, if this doesn’t seem appropriate, excuse yourself from the group and go to the bathroom, or make a telephone call, or whatever is diversionary. If the conversation is still going on with the group, join another, or just remain silent when you return. If the conversation is with just one person, simply say, “I respect your opinion and will have to think about it. In the meantime, what do you think about. . . “

Funeral Formalities: Should Ex spouses be in attendance?

Q: I have been researching whether or not it is appropriate for my new husband to attend his ex wife’s funeral. They have an adult daughter that will be there and a lot of family from the ex wife’s side. She had been sick ever since they were married. He wants to support his daughter but feels it will be disrespectful to the ex wife. Please give us some advice.

A: Generally, a divorced spouse stays in the background. A note of sympathy is usually called for. An offer of help may be included, but only if you know it will be welcome. A donation to the deceased’s designated charity may be preferable to sending flowers. It’s usually best not to attend the visitation. A divorced spouse can attend the funeral as long as his presence won’t cause discomfort for the family. A divorced spouse does not sit with the family unless asked to. If graveside services are limited to family, a former spouse should not attend unless specifically invited.

First Child: Sending Birth Announcements

Q: I will be having my first child in a few weeks and I was wondering to whom I should send birth announcements? Also do I send them to all of the people who attended my baby shower or just a select few? I have no information on the proper way to send out birth announcements.

A: Birth announcements can be sent to family and friends but are rarely sent to business associates or casual acquaintances. Assuming those who attended the shower are family and friends, you may send them the announcement. If it’s too great a number, you may limit sending announcements to immediate family, close friends, and/or those who do not live locally. The recipient of a birth announcement is not expected to give a gift.