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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Dear Miss Manners,

Please help me determine which is the bigger breach of etiquette.

A) Family member throwing a baby shower for her second baby in 18 months.
B) Family member hosting an "open house/house warming" in her home that she did not purchase, does not pay rent on, and has lived in for 5 years.
C) Either of above events so people can bring "baby gifts or house gifts or whatever else they want to give her".
D) Non-family member glad she told me about the event I had heard nothing about so now I can rush some gifts for the occasion.

Sister "with money" who is told nothing but should send random gifts every week just in case there's a gift-giving non-event

P.S. If one felt inspired, what would be the proper gift in this situation?


Shirley said...

You should give a pack of Charmin...

C. Beth said...

So, the 2nd-child-baby-shower thing is interesting. It seems like it varies a ton from region to region. In my area, baby showers for 2nd children are common. (I've even been to a baby shower for a 3rd child, and one for a 4th, but the 4th was the first girl in the family.) But I know from being on mommy message boards that in other areas of the country, it is a TOTALLY rude thing to have a baby shower for any baby except the first.


The housewarming is totally bizarre.

Anyway again--

A Target gift card is easy to send and can be used for baby stuff OR house stuff, so I'd say that's always a winner.

TMC said...

B is the worst.

If you're bullied at all into buying a gift for any of these situations, do it for the baby in A. And make it a savings bond or something else that's worthless to the parent, like a star, a tree planted in the child's honour, or sponsor an orphaned chimp.

Charis said...

I'd say a really nice card.
For the baby shower, a bottle stuffed full of pacifiers, or onesies, with a bow on it.

For the house warming, a candle. Or two. :)

Jessica said...

Flaming bag of dog poo left on porch. Bow optional.

jabblog said...

We don't really have these events in UK. Housewarming parties are sometimes held and guests might bring a bottle of wine or flowers or a pot plant but that's really it.
Seems strange to have a baby shower for a second baby. Sure, babies are (usually) cause for joy and celebration but haven't these people considered recycling (ie: handing down) baby clothes if they're non-gender specific?

blognut said...


A) Send a small baby gift after the baby is born. 'Cause you probably would have anyway.
B) Address labels with the name of the home's actual owner/rent payer listed on them.
D) Whichever of these events you weren't told about? Don't send anything.

q said...

Perhaps a lovely coffee table book on the Etiquette of gift giving and receiving?

AND, on the subject of manners, what would you do with a houseguest who rearranged all your kitchen cupboards and told you that for the duration of her stay, if you wanted anything from HER kitchen, you would have to ask for it?

Matty said...

B...hands down.

Melinda said...

My personal opinion would be get the new baby an outfit (no need to break the bank.) A new baby deserves new things, but not the basics as the mommy should have those already, barring an unfortunately event like a fire or something. As for the "housewarming" I would simply take a hostess gift (maybe a bottle of hard cider or a seasonal candle to celebrate the season) if I bothered to attend at all.

-KA- said...

I'd send a swift kick in the ass. But that's just me.

Margaret said...

I have no idea but I wouldn't send or bring anything.

Nessa said...

Oh, darn, some one beat me to the etiquette book idea.

Wordless Wednesday

Just say Julie said...

I'm thinking I'd go with the "anything else one might want to give her" and it would be a piece of my mind. That's totally free.

Tortuga said...

I, personally, wouldn't send a darn thing. If you didn't receive an invitation (written or verbal) from the host/hostess then you are under no obligation to gift. Yes, you are aware of the event, you're also aware of every engagement in town if you pick up a paper, but it doesn't mean you have to send something. If someone hosts a party and doesn't send an invitation, that person cannot expect a gift, period.

Rena said...

Was that an actual quote? "anything else to give her"-- WHAT? What's worse than being slightly socially obligated to give a gift is that she's openly asking and expecting them. I'd say give a gift to a charity in her name. Helps the charity, but from the way she sounds it will totally piss her off. Win win. :)

Oh My Goddess said...

A copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Sassy Britches said...

I'm first with Tortuga. Then TMC. Then kind of along the lines of Oh My Goddess, but instead don't send her that book, send her nothing, and buy YOURSELF "Dealing with People You Can't Stand."

Kaylen said...

Dear Sister...
Proper etiquette for all above situations would call upon you to reevaluate your genealogy chart and determine which of your relatives in which part of your tree actually grew up running wild with wolves.

The baby shower is acceptable, though for the second child in less than two years, you must assume that they do not need much of the traditional gifts. Gift suggestions would include: very small diapers or cutesy diaper covers; simple baby onesies that you have decorated yourself with sayings such as: I'm the baby now! or It's my turn to cry! or Mommy needs birth control.

Best of luck with the rest of the family,
Miss Manners

Call Me Cate said...

I'll be responding to comments via email, as usual. But I have to say how much I just <3 some of your responses.

Thanks for letting me vent. I mean, it's my blog so you didn't have a choice. But thanks for humoring me.

That corgi :) said...

B in my opinion. I love babies so I usually give a gift, even if it is the third shower, LOL. Of course my mom always said it was a bit tacky for family members to throw showers.

house warming/open house should be within 1 month (in my opinion) of moving in. Otherwise, just greed.

seems like non-family member also wanted to guilt you to gift others

sad situation all in all


silver star said...

The only thing I could come up with is trojans.

The Bad Yogi said...

Ok, Silver Star totally wins.

The Official Yogi suggestion (which never fails, guaranteed*): hit the Dollar store for 26 odds and ends. Random stuff like pencils, paper towels, all that kind of stuff. Resist the weirder things (save for non-family mooches, er members). Wrap up in packages of 2-4 objects, and stick in cupboard/closet. Attach a tag that says, "thinking of you, love me".

Now, every month or 2, send over a package. People love this stuff.


*to get some kind of response, what else? Like I say, some people make others happy by their presence, others by their absence.

chickadee51 said...

Well, you weren't invited so you're off the hook. I say a gift is something given by choice not by obligation. If you feel obligated to give something, then it's a payment, not a gift. What are you paying for? Hmmmm food for thought.