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Discussion Forums

The Etiquette Queen Parties

Questions of Manners
See Other Categories

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

amy boyd asked:

I have a group of close girlfriends, two years ago one of the girls had a baby shower for her first baby. A fifty dollar gift was purchased for this event. One year later she married and as the story goes, a gift of money was given in the amount of fifty dollars. This same girlfriend is now having twins and a baby shower was given but I was unable to attend. I would still love to buy her a gift for her soon to be new set of twins, but I never received a thank you note for either of the two previous occasions. Etiquette Queen what would you do?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Depends how good a friend she is. If she is one that you would like to keep, forget the note and get the gift. Your other two options are do nothing and say nothing or tell her how you feel about the lack of a thank-you. This has to be your call.

quadeera asked:

I am planning a formal sweet sixteen and I don't quite know how it really goes. I don't want 15 girls only 5 of my closest friends to dance with me. as you can see I don't really know. help!!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

You can't decide who asks you to dance. You can only decide whether to dance with that person or not. Or you can ask the one you want to dance. There's no other way.

Cherie asked:

Wedding Shower: I was invited on Thursday evening for a wedding shower taken place on Sunday. The mother of the bride to be said it was a terrible oversight that I wasn't invited sooner. The shower is in the afternoon and is a 2.5 hour drive from my home. I've already made plans for Sunday morning. What would be an appropriate way to handle not going. I do want to acknowledge the bride. Do I send a gift (what?) money (how much?) What is appropriate? She is a 3rd cousin. I really don't see this side of the family very often. Occasionally at weddings and unfortunately funerals. The bride to be's mother and my mother were very close growing up. Please advise. Thank you.

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, tell them you already had plans that can't be broken so you're sorry you can't attend. Only send a present if you get an invitation to the wedding and want to send one. If your mom is so close, she will take care of her gift by herself. Don't emotionally blackmail yourself.

Colleen Davis asked:

My husband and I are invited to his cousins shower and wedding. They live in NY and we live in IN. We have met them once. During our meeting I was pregnant, they requested that we send them an announcement so they could send a gift. We never received a card or a gift for our baby. Should we send anything to either event? We wont' be able to attend them. Thanks. Colleen Davis

The Etiquette Queen says:

I would just send my congratulations and regrets.

Holly asked:

Help.. I have just one questions regarding sending of Thank you notes.... What is the time frame in which you should send them??? That is for any reason that you would want to send a Thanks you note... i.e.: Birthday presents, gifts, helping out etc.. Please e-mail me back... Thanks H

The Etiquette Queen says:

On all occasions, except wedding presents, any more time than a month to 6 weeks would be too long.

Becky asked:

I am throwing a bachelorette party. Can I ask people that are not in the wedding party to help share the expense of the limo????? If I can, how do I ask??

The Etiquette Queen says:

If they ride, they pay. it's simple, tell them

alisa asked:

We are having a party for my mom's 60th birthday. There will be about 100-125 people all from different groups, friends, etc. Is it ok to have name tags so the guests can meet each other easier? Or is that tacky?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Absolutely, just make them fit the theme or decorations. Wish other parties did the same!

Mary asked:

What is a "typical" 25th wedding anniversary party? Is it acceptable to renew vows in church followed by a reception at home or at a hall? How much it too much? We want to do something really special!

The Etiquette Queen says:

There is no "typical" in this case. Anything the couple or their friends want to do is fine. It's a perfect case of "no one is the boss of us"!

Tricia asked:

I am invited to a farewell party for someone entering the military. Is it expected that I bring a gift? If so, is money expected considering you really can't bring material items to boot camp?  T

The Etiquette Queen says:

You need to ask your host or hostess what they have in mind

Tricia asked:

I am invited to a farewell party for someone entering the military. Is it expected that I bring a gift? If so, is money expected considering you really can't bring material items to boot camp?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You need to ask the host or hostess what you should do.. Good luck

Kim asked:

I will be attending a formal dinner. My attire includes a formal length cream dress. Can I wear a dressy sandal that is slightly off in color? Do I need to wear stockings? I have a very dark tan.

The Etiquette Queen says:

A lot depends upon the time of the year. Now that it is getting warmer, lighter shoes can be worn. Sandals are very stylish right now but don't go with a slightly off color. You might want to go with a totally different color with matching purse or something in your hair. Stockings are always the thing for formal, no matter how tan you are.

Nicole asked:

All of the bridesmaids (including myself) are hosting a shower for my cousins. We would like to know is it necessary to also buy her a gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

This would be the appropriate time to give the bride her wedding present. You might also include a little something personal if you wish.

Nancy asked:

When is it appropriate to put BYOB on an invitation? We are having a 40th birthday party with about 40 guests. The invitations and dinner will be very informal. We will probably provide wine with dinner, but it would really help if people would bring their own beer and sodas. Is that at all rude?

The Etiquette Queen says:

In this case, it is quite appropriate. You don't want to deal with this issue when the guests call to RSVP.

bonnie asked:

I have two children, one in 1st grade, the other in 2nd. Both teachers are pregnant. For each class, the "classroom mother" requested that each child donate $5-8 per child for a class present (a high chair, stroller, etc). I think it is inappropriate for children to hold a shower and declined to participate (send in my money). If anything, a book of nursery rhymes from the class seems more appropriate. In my opinion, these mothers are mixing up their personal role with their class role. What is your opinion? I do like both teachers

The Etiquette Queen says:

I agree with you. A "child-like" gift would be appropriate after the teachers give birth and it could either come from each class as a whole or from individual students. It's always fun to have the kids create some kind of card.

Nancy asked:

I know there are several questions regarding 50th Wedding Anniversaries, but none were quite specific enough to answer my question. Is it generally customary for guests of a party of a 100 or more to pay for their own meals, or is this only done when finances are tight? Is it tacky? We're throwing our parents a 50th Wedding Anniversary party and we're confused as to what is the most tasteful way to go about planning this momentous occasion. We want to send them on a vacation AND give them the party, but I'm afraid we won't be able to do both, financially. Should we pay for the party and then tell the guests they're welcome to donate "Dot and Gene's Hawaiian Vacation"? Please help - we're stumped, but don't want to be tasteless. Thanks

The Etiquette Queen says:

Well, you have a few options. You could blow all the finances on a party, but I don't like that. You could have a scaled down dessert-type party with a travel theme and let all the guests know that you folks are taking this vacation, courtesy of you guys. Let them decide what, if anything, to bring. You could send them on the trip and when they return, have everyone over for coffee and cake and let your parents take center stage talking about their trip. Be sure to provide them with lots of film.

Carmen asked:

Me and my sister are both pregnant again together. We were wondering why some people at our work are planning a second baby shower for each of us. My mother had 6 children, and only had one baby shower. She said "You only have one baby shower". Are we missing something here?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If they want to give you a shower, let them. Sometimes it is good to make others happy, and this seems to do it for them. There is no limit on showers, whether bridal or baby. Enjoy

Lisa Tucker asked:

My parents are approaching their 50th wedding anniversary and my sister and I are planning a celebration. We live in a very small town handsome of their friends live out of town. We plan to send invitations but I need ideas for the reception itself. What is appropriate for 50-100 people? I would like something different but something traditional also. Can you give me ideas, I need help bad!!!!I need help in planning the food and everything! I want something nice and different other than just the cake, nuts, punch, mints. Any suggestion?? Please help me.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Do they have something favorite to do? Like travel, camping, etc. Make centerpieces to go with one of those themes and the invitations also. Instead of a formal party, plan games with a personal touch such as collecting baby pics of the guests, mounting on a board and let everyone guess who is who.

Nicole asked:

All of the bridesmaids (including myself) are hosting a shower for my cousins. We would like to know is it necessary to also buy her a gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Usually the answer is yes, but if you are giving separate wedding presents, it isn't necessary. Some hostesses give the wedding present at the shower. Think of doing that.

Shannon asked:

Comments = I'm 17 and pregnant with my first child. My mom decided to have a baby shower for family and some friends.. All in all about 30 people. The people that are attending are very diverse. The babies' fathers parents are completely against alcohol, some are 15 to 18,some are pregnant as well and others are just unopinionated about Alcohol. My mom invited three of her friends at work and they asked specifically that she provide alcoholic beverages. I feel this is inappropriate due to the age range and the fact that is a baby shower and will truly offend some of the guests attending. Is it appropriate to serve alcohol at a baby shower? This baby shower?  Thanks.

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, guests don't tell you what to serve except for their particular allergies. Second of all, you are mostly too young to legally drink. Most importantly, no drinking for pregnant ladies, no matter how old. If these "ladies" from work need to drink, they can have one before the party. Stick to your guns - you are on the right track!

Brian Burdette asked:

I and two friends have been invited to an engagement party. What sort of gift (if any) is appropriate to give the couple? They don't live together, so that rules out house wares for the most part I think.

The Etiquette Queen says:

I assume they will live together after the wedding. Find out where they are registered and ask that store for a printout. It will tell you what they like and the cost. Go from there.

Shannon asked:

I have been invited to a formal (after 6 p.m.) wedding to be held at an art museum. There is nothing on the invitation about dress. I was wondering if a black, "dressy" skirt and blouse would be OK. Is it OK to wear black to a wedding nowadays?  I have been invited to a formal (after 6 p.m.) wedding to be held at an art museum. There is nothing on the invitation about dress. I was wondering if a black, "dressy" skirt and blouse would be OK. Is it OK to wear black to a wedding nowadays?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Black is always appropriate, especially at weddings these days. I went to one last year where not only the wedding party wore black, but also most of the guests. After 6pm, feel free to wear separates (it's the new trend) as long as it's after-six looking. It might take jewelry or some accessory but go for it

C Thomas asked:

Do you RSVP for Barbeques? 

The Etiquette Queen says:

Did you get an invitation? Would you want an RSVP if you were giving a party, regardless of the type of party? Do you ever want to be invited again? Seriously, all invitations should be responded to, either yes or no.

Dana asked:

I am giving a couples' wedding shower in a very casual, patio-party, Mexican-themed setting. The invitations are hand-written. Is it OK to address them to each person's first names, i.e. John and Jane Doe, or should I always address them Mr. and Mrs. John Doe? I am also sending one to a couple where the wife is a Judge. What is the appropriate way to address this one? Lastly, is it OK to invite a friend of mine that is helping me with the party although she is neither a friend nor an acquaintance of the guests of honor?  I would appreciate a quick response as I am running out of time.  Thank you, Dana

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, if you normally call them by their first names and the party is as casual as you say, go right ahead and use first names on the invites. This goes for the judge (in the future, judges are always addressed as "the Honorable". As for your friend, would she feel out of place, have you made any promises of an invite? Better you should buy her a gift or take her to lunch or dinner if this would make her happier.

Pam asked:

Dr Queen.  URGENT! mother's 50th birthday is this weekend(!!) we're celebrating with dinner at a restaurant and then on to a blues club (which charges admission). It's a small group of 10 attendees, whom have all been invited verbally, Some by my mother, some by me. My aunt asked if guests were expected to pay their own checks, (affirmative). Now I am not sure how to delicately ensure everyone else knows (my mom says they do) and if I have committed a horrible etiquette sin already in not hosting it myself. (I already bought my mom a stereo as a present) Also, if so, are favors then appropriate for me to give to each guest? thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

To solve the check situation, ask your server on the side to give separate check to guests, indicating which you want to keep for yourself. If you can find cute, meaningful favors, within budget, they would be quite appropriate but don't break the budget. Remember, it's not the cost, it's the thought!

Patty asked:

I have seen it 2 different ways. Where is proper to place the napkin on a formal dinner table. On the left, under the fork, or on the right, under the knife and spoon?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Patty! The napkin always goes on the left unless that is the tradition of a foreign country--that I've never heard of (or you're looking in a mirror!)...

Marlene asked:

Is it a good idea to write a thank-you note after spending a weekend in a new friend's house, if you've already sent flowers as a thank-you?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If you have sent flowers, there is no need for a formal written thank you.

LGS asked:

If you are invited to a friend's card game, is it o.k. to invite a mutual friend to come with you if the party giver did not invite the mutual friend?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Only if you call first! There's food and drink to consider, etc. Remember, though, that by calling you really put your host on the spot: how can they say no? It depends on the level of your friendship whether or not you can get them to tell you if you are imposing. Or you can just not worry about it. But do call first so you are not embarrassed.

Betsy asked:

I'm attending a formal dinner party, at which I'll be wearing above-the-elbow length gloves. Do I take my gloves off for dinner, or is it appropriate to eat with them on?

The Etiquette Queen says:

It is appropriate to remove them for dinner. Place them in your lap or in your bag (if they will fit).

Krissy asked:

I recently had a baby shower and my husband did not attend. When I make out the Thank You cards do I sign his name also?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Absolutely. Even though as the mom-to-be you are the one who gets the party, the presents and the fun (just wait!)...he still is a beneficiary of this frivolity.

Monique asked:

What is required when you are chosen to be the godmother of a close friend's child? Please help.

The Etiquette Queen says:

First and foremost, show up at the christening; you probably want to get the child something significant (like a savings bond or something more personal but long-lasting). You are also probably going to be expected to be there for every birthday, every special event and every milestone in this child's life. Be supportive spiritually and otherwise. That's most of it.

Charlotte asked:

My siblings and I are planning a 50th wedding anniversary for our parents. Is it proper to serve only cake, nuts, mints, and punch or should we include more finger foods. It is planned for a Sunday afternoon, 2 to 4 p.m.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Between 2 and 4 in the afternoon is fine for a dessert type party. However, people still may expect some small appetizers, finger foods, tea sandwiches, etc. So, to keep everyone happy, you might want to include those in your menu. Otherwise, be clear on the invitation that it is a dessert celebration.

CJ asked:

I need to know what the proper use of eating utensils are, and what foods should be eaten with what utensil. We are arguing at work whether it is proper to eat corn and mashed potatoes with a spoon.

The Etiquette Queen says:

No, dearie, you should not. You should use a fork for your corn and your mashed potatoes.

kjh asked:

I asked for rsvps to my holiday buffet party by Monday. Wednesday, I get a message that an invited couple is rsvping, and bringing another guest. how do you tell them nicely that you are afraid you wouldn't have enough food? I don't want the guests to that RSVP on time to suffer.

The Etiquette Queen says:

There really isn't a nice way to tell them. And by the way, did you invite them with guest...or did they just decide on their own to bring someone??! You can always add to your food order but not "delete" when you've made a guarantee. If you want to stay friends with this couple, let it go and call the caterer.

Paul - Campus catering asked:

Someone has informed me that it is now proper to both serve and clear from the left. This seem logical since the server is less likely to disrupt wine or water glasses or dip their sleeve in the guest's coffee. Is this recommended or should we stick with the traditional serve left &clear right?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You are taking a chance since most people are used to being served the opposite way. On the other hand, if it makes sense for you, is more efficient for your servers, chances are after the few drinks they had during cocktail hour, they won't even notice. I say, go for the latter. Happy Thanksgiving.

adam lines asked:

Which way do you pass the food at the family dinner table for Thanksgiving? Is it to the left and that person grabs with their left and serves with their right? Help!!!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

People naturally pass to their right. Based on the fact that most people are right-handed, they would take the dish with both hands and serve themselves with their right hand. On the other hand (excuse the pun--well, that's not exactly a pun, is it?) long as people don't throw the food at each other, I wouldn't worry about it.

Gilles Roy asked:

When you are invited over for lunch and bring a bottle of wine, are the hosts supposed to open that bottler what are they suppose to do with it. Thanks.

The Etiquette Queen says:

They can if they want, but proper etiquette is to put that wine away, since it is a gift, and use it at a later time.

Kate asked:

My brother has just gotten engaged, my mother has never met my brother's fiancée's parents. Jenny's parent's live in Delaware and my mom lives in New Jersey; is it my moms place to invite her parents to New Jersey or is it the bride's parent's responsibility?

The Etiquette Queen says:

That's an interesting question, Kate. No matter how it is "written" in the etiquette books, if the bride's parents haven't invited your mother to visit, then she should step forward and invite them to visit with her. Or coordinate plan for a meeting halfway that might be fun for all. Your brother has enough going on, I am sure, that it would be nice not to bother him with what might later be a "sore point," if you know what I mean. So, my vote is that your mother step forward and be the "big" person in all this. And let's get that engagement off on smooth sailing...

Ed asked:

Comments = I have a china service with nut plates. Are there any special rules for using them ? i.e. Where do they go on the table ? What kind of nuts should be used ? etc...Second question. Should place card holders be used on formal table settings ? Someone told me that they should be folded and put directly on the table. What do you think? Thanks, ED According to my sources, nut plates go to the right and above of the dinner knife. What type of nuts? There are no rules on that, but I would assume you wouldn't want to serve anything in a shell, right? Fancy nuts will work; but I wouldn't worry too much, no one else knows either! As far as place cards and place card holders. There are now sterling silver formal place card holders for formal set tables, so whoever told you that needs to go back and take another course from Miss Manners! Using a place card holder that matches your place settings or using a formal card, folded double--works. Do as you will. And what makes you comfortable. Can I come?

The Etiquette Queen says:

According to my sources, nut plates go to the right and above of the dinner knife. What type of nuts? There are no rules on that, but I would assume you wouldn't want to serve anything in a shell, right? Fancy nuts will work; but I wouldn't worry too much, no one else knows either! As far as place cards and place card holders. There are now sterling silver formal place card holders for formal set tables, so whoever told you that needs to go back and take another course from Miss Manners! Using a place card holder that matches your place settings or using a formal card, folded double--works. Do as you will. And what makes you comfortable. Can I come?

Kathy asked:

Comments = I need to know how to set a formal table setting.

The Etiquette Queen says:

From Set a Table (Continued) Master the formal pacesetting. Generally, the more formal the occasion the more courses are served, which of course means more flatware. There should be a different set of utensils for each course: salad fork, dinner fork; dinner knife, bread knife; and so on. Some special dishes such as oysters have special utensils. These can be served at the presentation of the food, but generally are placed on the table in order of course. When oysters are served as an appetizer for example, set the oyster fork to the right of the spoon. Building from the basic set-up (see above), the following utensils may be added. On the left side of the plate put the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. On the right add a soup spoon to the outside of the dinner spoon if soup will be served. Place the soup bowl above the soup spoon and to the right. The bread plate goes to the left, about two inches above the fork. Place the butter knife across the bread plate at a diagonal, upper left to lower right. Small salad plates go to the left and a little lower from the bread plate. Dessert spoons, or in some cases knife and fork, are placed about an inch above the top of the plate with the handle(s) on the right side. The largest glass on the table is the water glass (see above for basic placement). It may be filled and iced when guests arriver left empty to be filled at each diner's request. If wine or some other beverage is served, set the appropriate glass to the right and a little lower from the water glass.

Marvan asked:

when setting a place setting of silver ware is all on one side of the plate, which side is it on and in what order go the knife, fork & spoon.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Marvan, I am sorry I missed your dinner. Salad fork, dinner fork, table knife, teaspoon and dessert spoon above the plate (and they'll really think you know your business).

Nora asked:

I am wondering who should give the toast to the 50th Anniversary couple? The eldest child, as we think? Thank you. Nora

The Etiquette Queen says:

Nora! The one who is the best speaker!

Dave Taylor asked:


The Etiquette Queen says:

Dave, If you are having a party, you need to send invitations to a "graduation party"...if you are having an open house (different than a party since people just stop by to congratulate the graduate) those announcements are fine!

smitty asked:

My girlfriend wants to invite friends to restaurant for dinner directly after the graduation ceremony. she will receive a master's degree. How do you tell guests that they will need to pay for own meals?

The Etiquette Queen says:

When you do the invitation, you should word it so that it is understood that everyone invited is "giving" the party, so to speak. "You are invited to share in a dinner honoring Ms. Graduate at The Restaurant...time, date, etc. Pre-arrange the menu choices and price with the restaurant and list them on the invitation response card...then no one misunderstands.

Terri asked:

Who traditionally should make speeches at a 21st birthday party?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Terri! There is no "tradition" so to speak about who makes toasts at a 21st birthday party. However, I do have some suggestions. Ask who wants to do it in advance so it doesn't go on and on forever (or you may be very very sorry). And ask those "toasting" to limits their comments to two minutes. Planning a "program" is always a good idea or it can get really out of hand. Have a good time.

Emily Kellerhals asked:

I'm having a graduation party after my graduation. I was wondering if it was okay to invite someone to my party if I didn't send them an invitation. Thanks a lot

The Etiquette Queen says:

Of course. Phone them and invite them personally. If they happen to know that you mailed invitations to other people, you have two choices.1. tell the truth--you forgot!2. lie and call to see why they haven't Rasp's! Happy graduating.

Jana asked:

What is the "proper" (American style, not European) way to eat food with a knife and fork? I've been told the rule has changed. I learned you should hold the fork in your left hand, cut with the knife in your right hand, set the knife down on your plate, switch the fork to your right hand and eat the cut morsel. My co-worker commented that it's NOW proper to keep the fork in your right hand at ALL times and cut the food with the knife in your left hand. Who's correct?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I'm not sure, but I think you are. Anyway, I don't know about you, but could never cut my food with my left hand. Old ways never go out of style. Stick with what you were taught. The Queen

Linda asked:

Our best friends 25th wedding anniversary will be coming up in June. According to etiquette, who is responsible for planning a party in their honor? Friends, family member, child?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Linda, If all were well with the world, a family member or child should be the person hosting an anniversary party. Nine times out of ten, it's the children (we just did a 50th this weekend for a very lovely couple). But, not everyone is thoughtful, and a lot of children and family members never think to celebrate something such as it because of budget constraints, just bad manners or who knows! If these are your best friends, and the children or another family member hasn't organized anything, why not approach them to help? If they look at you aghast, then do it yourself. Even if it's potluck, your friends will surely appreciate it. Go with your heart. Etiquette Queen

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