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Discussion Forums

The Etiquette Queen Parties

Questions About Gifts
See Other Categories

Ask your questions of the Etiquette Queen now.
You may even see your question and answer posted in the space below.

Leila asked:

What type of thank you gift should I give to 3 people that are giving me a baby shower?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You don't need to give them anything but a wonderful note and your verbal thanks. If you really feel the need to buy something, a nice bottle of wine or a box of candy would do.

Jeffery Woodlee asked:

I have been invited to a friends cocktail party on Saturday, July 24, 1999 and am wondering if etiquette dictates I should bring or offer an appropriate gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

There is no reason to bring or offer to bring a gift. A party is just a party unless there is a special reason such as a housewarming, birthday, etc.

Joan asked:

Should we take a gift to a dinner party? This party has 5 couple's invited and is hosted by the Pastor of our church. Is it customary to take a gift and what kind of gift should be taken to small dinner parties?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Usually the only gift to such an evening is a bottle of wine.

Katherine Mask asked:

My husband and I are planning a 30th anniversary party for my parents. Is it rude to ask the guests to bring gifts? If not, what is the best way to let them know they are expected to bring a gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If you are giving a party, you CANNOT expect guests to bring a gift. Most will, but some won't. There's no polite way to ask or tell anyone to bring a gift. If you are just having a party for the presents, don't bother. If you want their company, invite who you want and let the chips fall where they may.

Mary asked:

I am hosting a bridal shower for a friend of mine's daughter. Should I purchase a shower gift also, or is the shower considered a gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You really should get some sort of gift. Don't break the bank but temper the price to what you can really afford.

Melina asked:

1) Is it tacky to not have party favors at my wedding? I've had 6 weeks to plan an in-home wedding for 50 people (the wedding is next weekend!), and I don't have much time or money left. If it is tacky, can you suggest some elegant but inexpensive favors?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I've never heard of having party favors at a wedding. Just little cake boxes to take home a piece of wedding cake. Calm down, have a great wedding.

Ann asked:

what do you buy a sweet 16 girl

The Etiquette Queen says:

The easy answer is "A sixteen year old boy". But seriously, find out her interests, musically, sports, reading, travel, makeup to help you narrow it down. I don't know how much you plan on spending or your relationship to the girl so specific advice is hard.

Cheryl L .Burton asked:

What is an appropriate amount to spend on a shower gift? Is there a certain percentage of what you intend to spend on the wedding gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Unless it's a personal shower or a specific type of shower, most people give the wedding gift at the shower. The bride and groom will recognize that is what you are doing. It's better than splitting the cost between 2 so-so presents. The amount you spend on the wedding gift is up to you. Decide how much you want to spend and then find out where they are registered and go shopping.

utk asked:

Is it proper etiquette to register for a 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration? Please respond ASAP, because the celebration is next weekend. Thank you. 

The Etiquette Queen says:

You can register for any occasion. Not everyone pays attention though so don't be disappointed.

LTD asked:

Is it true that if the mother-to-be is having another boy, you do not give a baby shower? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

No it isn't. Just because the sex is the same, doesn't mean it's the same baby.

Impressive asked:

I am planning my grandparents 50th Anniversary Party. The have collected so much over the years, they really do not want gifts to clutter their small home. However, they are open to people giving money or gift certificates. I do not think there is a way to etiquettely state this, what is your opinion? They were thinking of having a Money Tree Available at the party, She we state this on the invitation?  Confused in Louisiana 

The Etiquette Queen says:

As a person not familiar with the tradition of a money tree, I cannot tell you how to express this. But here's an idea. Why not have everyone contribute money and make a donation in your grandparents name to their favorite charity.

Vanessa asked:

I previously had a graduation party. My guests gave me money. Now that it is time to send out thank you cards I don't know the proper way to say thank you for the money! Could you please HELP ASAP. Thank you Vanessa 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Use 3 sentences. l. thank you for your generous graduation gift. 2. I will certainly put it to good use when the time comes. 3. Thank you again for thinking of me.

Elise C. McWilliams asked:

What is the proper etiquette for returning wedding gifts is a wedding has been canceled or postponed? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Two different answers. If cancelled, just return the gift to the sender/s with a note of explanation. If the postponement is only a short one, like a month or so, call the giver and explain it. If the postponement is going to be longer, return it with a note.

R. D. W. asked:

I am planning a surprise party for my mother's 55th birthday next month. I am sending out the invitations this week and would like to know how to handle the gift issue. I don't want people to feel obligated to bring gifts. The party is just for everyone to get together and have a good time. Should I write something on the invitation? How do I handle this issue? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Don't mention gifts. Some will naturally bring them and some won't and you can't control it. Just have a place to put them to be opened after the party.

Theresa asked:

I was wondering if a Anniversary Clock is a acceptable gift for a 50th wedding anniversary. Thank you. 

The Etiquette Queen says:

I really don't know what an anniversary clock is. But I always feel that anything given with thought and love is not just acceptable but desired.

AMY SALVA asked:


The Etiquette Queen says:

A lot of time, the gown is handed down through generations of a family so that would be a good thing to know first. If not, consult the mom and dad as to whether it is ok and what they would like. As a godparent, I have given something in engraved sterling silver like a rattle or a frame.

Doris Foster asked:

Looking for the proper way to make or handle a money tree for parents 50th. anniversary party. How do we set it up so we will know who gave so that we may send thank you notes.  Thanks

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could provide small envelopes for those who don't have one and plenty of pens. Put a little sign for your guests to know to use the envelopes and to put their names on them.

Peggy asked:


The Etiquette Queen says:

I don't believe so but if you feel something is necessary, you could make a donation in his name to some charity dealing with children.

Melissa Costanzo asked:

My parents 30th wedding anniversary is just around the corner. For their 25th my brother and I threw them a party. We have decided to in together on a gift for them for the 30th as well. What is appropriate and sentimental for the parents who have everything? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Why don't you gather a lot of pictures from relatives and friends, have those same people write a short memory or an amusing story and put them in an album. Put their picture on top, could be their wedding picture next to one of them today. Then arrange for a dinner for two at their favorite restaurant or have it catered for them in their home with candles, champagne, the works.

maid of honor asked:

Is there any particularly traditional engagement gift for the maid of honor to give for a wedding gift or more specifically engagement party gift?  thanks! 

The Etiquette Queen says:

There is no tradition at all. Just go with what you would like to give as a gift to a person who chose you on her special day.

Amy asked:

My son is graduating from high school. What is expected for him to bring to parties of his friends? They might be going from party to party. 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Nothing is expected. Since they are all graduates, they would go broke is they bought presents for all. On his own, if there are any friends he wants to gift, he can do so privately.

Connie asked:

My daughter is graduating after 4 years in college--her father wants to throw her a big party, even inviting my daughter's great aunt and uncles. I think this is just a plot to get $ and or presents. What type of party or celebration is proper for a college graduation? Also, is there any etiquette tips for a gift? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

A lot of this depends upon each family. If it is a tradition in yours to have parties to celebrate events, follow tradition. If it isn't and you want a party, start a tradition. Usually, those people who want to get the graduate a present and those that don't won't. As to the type of party, ask the graduate and consider how much you want to spend. Would you rather give her the money to start out her new life or pay rent for a few months on an apartment or something practical? Think about those things. As far as other people's gifts, they will give what they want and if asked, tell them honestly what she would like or what she would need, within reason.

Undine Hunt-Roberts asked:

Hello, My husband and I just purchased our first home. My sister in-law is planning our housewarming party for us. Is it improper for us to register for gifts? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

I am asked this more and more. In the old days, no such registration was done. People just gave something if they felt like it. But it seems to have all changed. I guess it wouldn't hurt to register. Just don't be disappointed if people don't check it or don't give you something.

Linda asked:

My son is getting married and they have been living together for some time, my family would like to give them a shower but they do not need household items. Need ideas on how we can do a money shower and word the invitation to use the money tree without seeming rude. 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Simply state the facts. Since the trend today seems to have a money tree, it can be no surprise to the guests. And the guests are aware of their living conditions. Some will still give a gift so be sure to have them register at a few places.

Keith asked:

My daughter is planning on giving my wife and I a 25th anniversary party. Is it proper to register for gifts? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

I don't think I ever heard of an anniversary registry. Usually people get together and get one big gift but check around. Maybe I'm behind the times.

Nancy asked:

Our son is graduating from high school the end of the month and we're having an informal party (outside-we've rented a tent, tables, chairs, etc.) for about 50 people. I'm clueless about the proper etiquette for cards and gifts. Should I have a gift table and should he open them all at once in the presence of everyone? What about card only gifts? Assuming they contain money, does he open them immediately in the presence of the giver only, or in private and when? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Unless you are giving a party expressly for giving of gifts (i.e. a shower) you should not open or display gifts at the party. If the party is outside, have a place inside, usually by the front door to put everything given and open them after the party.

stephanie asked:

could you please send me info. on the etiquette of sending thank-yous and invitations it is for a school project thank you very much 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Invitations should be sent about 6 weeks prior to the event. Thank-yous differ. Wedding present upon receipt of gift, even before the ceremony. That way you don't have too many after the wedding. Those should be sent ASAP but definitely within the first year. Thank-yous for all other presents should be sent as soon as possible. Put yourself in the position of the giver. How would you feel?

Kecia asked:

A friend just asked what would be proper in the following situation.  If one is asked to two different baby showers and brings a gift to each, as well as hosts another shower bearing the expense of the shower and gives a gift at that shower, and has been invited to the christening of the baby (actually in this instance - twins), would one be obligated to bring a gift to the Christening? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Only if you are a millionaire. You certainly have contributed more than your fair share, even for twins.

Mary Bryant asked:

In honor of National Secretaries Day, our company would like to give gift certificates to employees. In an effort to make it simple, it has been suggested to give to all women employees who are not "owners" of the company, however, all women in our company are not secretaries. Is this appropriate? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Whether called secretaries, administrative assistants or gofers, they all do the same job. If a female or male assists someone, they should be honored the same. Calling it secretary's day is a misnomer today.

Janice asked:

I am throwing my mother a housewarming party to celebrate her new "home". Would it be rude to have her register? Maybe let it be word of mouth and not publish it on the invitation 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Since you mom is probably getting rid of stuff and not accumulating it, why not think of one or two really great gifts and get those for her. Also include IOUs for help organizing her new place.

Roxanne asked:

My sister is having a baby girl. I am planning her baby shower and my sister doesn't like the color pink. She would like to have on the invitations that she prefers purple, yellow and green to pink. Is that alright to put on the invitations or is it tacky? How could we word that she doesn't like pink so no one is offended? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Just say so but cleverly. How about a poem like: I have a sister who's having a girl We all know she'll be our own little pearl My sister's appreciative but just has one kink She really detests the color pink. etc.

Tracy Casey asked:

I am going to an Engagement Party, what is a proper gift to bring? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Today, many people bring their wedding gifts to shower and engagement parties. Find out what the other guests are doing. I, personally, do not find it necessary to bring anything but a smile on my face.

alex asked:

What would be an proper gift for our babysitter's daughter's Bat mitzvah? We are not Jewish and we have been with her for about 10 months. Thanks!

The Etiquette Queen says:

The going rate for a bar mitzvah is $25-$50 and the kids love cash. Or a CD gift certificate or something like that works just as well (...hmmm...well, the kids might not agree). But if you stay within that range, you'll do okay.

Jean asked:

If I give a really nice bridal shower gift, is it necessary to also bring a gift to the wedding?

The Etiquette Queen says:

No longer is it necessary to buy two gifts. It is appropriate to get a fancier/larger/more expensive shower gift that works for both the shower and the wedding. Depending on how close you are to the bride and/or groom, you may want to do both...but again--it's not necessary if you buy something nice the first time around.

Andrea asked:

An acquaintance is having a baby shower. I will not be able to make it. What do I do? Send a gift anyway or wait until the baby is born and send a gift then?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Either is appropriate. I would send the gift after the baby is born. It's a little easier, you'll know if it's a boy or girl; you'll have a better handle on what she needs, etc.

Anna asked:

Hi there, Etiquette Queen! I'm appealing to you for your opinion on how to react to a chain of events. The story goes like this: My friend Tori and I were married to our respective husbands a year and a half ago. We were brides maids in one another's weddings. She was married 2 weeks before me at which point I gave her a very beautiful and expensive gift from her list of registered items. Last week she arrived at my Valentines Day party with our wedding gift. The gift was a bowl from a store in her home town of Watertown, N.Y. (a 9 hour drive from Boston, where I live). The package was crudely wrapped in a box filled with crumpled newspapers. There was no card for us, but inside the package I found a tiny gift card at the bottom of the box, which had been addressed to Tori and her husband. I feel extremely disappointed by her lack of effort to give us something useful (we moved into a new home a year ago and I had registered for gifts) and her lack of thoughtfulness (we don't need another bowl and it would be difficult to return this to Watertown, N.Y.) My feelings are hurt and I'm not sure how to react. Do I send a thank you card? Should I ask her if I can return it? Please help me out with some guidance if you can. Thank you, Anna

The Etiquette Queen says:

She is thoughtless, bottom line. I am sorry this happened. It sounds like until now your friendship was pretty "tight." So, the decision you have to make is whether or not it's worth destroying what you have built. You can tell her you are upset, or you can let it go and harbor those feelings toward her (chances are, your friendship won't be the same anyway). I would let it go and chalk it up to experience. But know you are definitely in the right.

Casey asked:

Do you have a traditional anniversary gift list that you could e-mail to me? I am celebrating my first anniversary and I think the traditional gift is supposed to be paper. I would like to see the complete list and have it for future reference. Can you help me?

The Etiquette Queen says: Go to that address on party411 and everything is listed for you! If you need further advice, let me know!

dee asked:

I'm throwing my fiancÚ a surprise 30th birthday party at a restaurant for his friends. Do I need flowers for the tables? Also, any suggestions for possible gifts?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Do flowers go with your fiancÚ? Probably not. I would do a centerpiece that is more appropriate and more about him (for example, check out our caricatures at We can have it made or I am sure you can find someone in your area to do it. Include his interests, etc., and set it up center table with some pens. Then the guests can use it as a sign-in board. In terms of gifts, from you or the guests? From you, something romantic of course (a weekend night away, a carriage ride). From his friends, that's up to them!

Diane asked:

Is it proper etiquette or expected to give a Thank You gift to Godparents for Baptizing your child If so, can you give any gift suggestions.

The Etiquette Queen says:

I'm not sure that it's listed in the etiquette books, but it is always nice to acknowledge an act of kindness. Thus, it would be proper.

Jean asked:

I am giving a surprise birthday party for my 90-year old mother-in-law and her twin sister. I know people will want to bring gifts. Since both women are very hard to buy for, I would like to have a money tree set up at the party for contributions. How can I word this on the invitation without insulting anyone? Thanks for your help.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Interesting question. Situations such as these are always touchy. I think you should insert a separate card that says, "Many people have asked us about gifts, and since we can't come up with many ideas (it seems as if they have everything at this point), we have decided to set up a money tree at the party for name and name." Something soft that makes it seem like you are doing the guest a favor. Get it?

Elysse asked:

Having a 50th Anniversary Party for my parents next weekend. What type of gifts are appropriate for 50 year anniversaries?

The Etiquette Queen says:

On the list of what is proper to give for a 50th, gold is listed. On the other hand, I think people enjoy restaurant gift certificates, tickets to plays and get-away weekends far more.

DAWN asked:


The Etiquette Queen says:

there's no set rule on that; however, I would bring either a fine wine or may want to get a gift basket filled with wine and gourmet crackers (for the cheese) or for your host/hostess to enjoy on her own!

Kari asked:

I need to get a gift for my soon to be 11 friend I have no clue what to get she has almost everything Hope you can help

The Etiquette Queen says:

You know what, Kari, I'd stick to music. And if you don't know what she likes, get her a gift certificate to your local music store. Put it in an empty CD box (your parents probably have an empty one around) or you can buy one at your local computer store for $1 each.

Tykeria asked:

I'm having a Sweet 16 Party and I would like to put gift ideas on the invitation but I do not want it to seem aggressive. How would I incorporate this?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Well, Tykeria, it's just not done! Unfortunately it's kind of tacky to list gift ideas on an invitation (unless you are asking people to donate money to your favorite charity). What you can do is appoint your closest closest friend and tell her what to say when people ask her what to get you. Other than're out of luck! However, wouldn't it be nice if you could register for birthdays like you do for weddings? I'd be first in line.

Juanita Brannan asked:

Should a husband of 2 yrs give his wife fake pearls for a Christmas Gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

That's a hard one. If he can afford real pearls, then I would say no. If he can't, it's the thought that counts. If he's just being cheap, you have a right to be upset.

Leslie McDonnell asked:

I am planning a 65th birthday brunch for women only for my mom's birthday at my home. It will be two weeks after a huge Christmas party at my house. would it be tacky to leave up most of the decorations. Also any ideas regarding gifts?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Certainly you can leave up the decorations. It will still be holiday time, and everyone will enjoy the festivity. As far as gifts go...if your mom doesn't need anything, it might be nice to have your guests donate in her honor to one of her favorite charities. If not, you will have to leave it to your guests.

Lisa Jones asked:

I'm planning a 50th b'day party for my mother. Is it appropriate for her to open her gifts at the party, or does she do that privately?

The Etiquette Queen says: depends on the number of people attending. If it is a small, informal group, by all means, open the presents (as long as those who didn't think to bring one aren't embarrassed). On the other hand, if it is a larger group, it takes too much time and tends to stop the party. However, if people are bringing gag gifts and not "real" gifts--and the opening of the presents will turn into it! No matter how many people are there!

Karen asked:

We are planning a 10th anniversary party, since we live out of town now it's really just an excuse to get together with friends and family. So, we really, really don't want people to bring gifts. Is there any really great way to handle that besides saying "no gifts please" on the invitation??

The Etiquette Queen says:

I know. I know. People never listen. What I suggest to my clients is that they put "no gifts, please" on the invitation and insert a card that says something like: " If you insist on doing something for us, which we appreciate but is definitely not necessary, you may make a donation if you wish to [your charity of choice; address]. Fondly, Jack & Jill Get it? Got it? Good!

C.Ray Gould asked:

What is the traditional gift i.e. gold silver wood ???for the 30th marriage anniversary? Thanks

The Etiquette Queen says:

Hey Ray! Thanks for asking. There are two these days. Traditional: pearls Modern: diamonds And if it's for your wife, both pearls and diamonds! The Queen speaks.

terry gonzales asked:


The Etiquette Queen says:

Well, Terry, it could be anything. The average gift cost today ranges anywhere from $25 - $50. I always give money. For several reasons:1. You know the child will like it.2. You know that even if someone else gave him the same thing, he'll still be happy. and 3. He/she won't take it back. Smart? Smart. Mazel Tov

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