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Discussion Forums

The Etiquette Queen Parties

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

Peggy asked:

I sent someone a rather expensive thank-you gift a month ago. It was in a card that was handed to them personally, with a gift certificate inside. They did not open it in my presence; I gave it to them during a kids' sports awards banquet, so it was a little chaotic and that's why they didn't open it at that time. I know they received it, but they never called or wrote to acknowledge my gift. I was worried that in the chaos of the sports banquet, it got lost. Do I follow up with them or just let it go? If it weren't for the large gift certificate ($50) I wouldn't care. However I would hate to think it got lost. I keep thinking that if it were me that received the $50 gift certificate, I'd call the person to say thanks for their generosity. Is it improper to expect a "thank you" for a thank you gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

It is entirely proper to expect a thank-you note for any gift, the price is not the issue. Either they are rude, too busy during the holidays, mailed it and it got lost in holiday mail, or it got lost in the chaos. There's nothing you can do about the first option, you can hope they catch up if it's the second option, and as for the last two, you can either write it off or inquire the next time you see or talk to them.

Jeff asked:

Jeff again, re the Olive Pitt- I know to "remove it from my mouth " but.. there has been ongoing controversy about the proper way to do so. Does put it onto a spoon, then to the plate, use ones fingers, or use a napkin to do so? I'm sorry I was so general last time. Thanks

The Etiquette Queen says:

Using a spoon is not the way. Neither is your napkin. I usually bite the outside off and put the pit on my plate.

Houston asked:

How do a address the Ambassador of Croatia when speaking to him? How do I address his wife?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I would call him sir and her ma'am if you are much younger. If you are contemporaries call him Mr. Ambassador and her Mrs. (Smith).

Jeff asked:

-What do I do with the olive pit? -Do you have a regular site, if so what is the address? I would be interested in all general etiquette advice and updates. It's nice to see that someone is still invested in etiquette.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Remove the pit from your mouth and put it on the side of the plate. This is the only place you can find me, but you can find me here all the time. I will answer any questions you have. Love doing it.

Steve asked:

I am a high school sophomore looking for information on cell phone etiquette for a persuasive speech. I'm wondering where cell phone's should and shouldn't be used

The Etiquette Queen says:

1. Driving and talking on a cell at the same time is dangerous. If you need to make a call, stop somewhere before dialing. 2. Theaters and other public venues where a performance is going on such as a movie, concert, play, etc. 3. Restaurants - no other diner needs to be annoyed by your conversations. No one realizes that they talk louder with a cell than with an ordinary phone. 4. Use the vibration option instead of the ringer and go to the lobby or some other private place to answer or return the call. 5. With today's unlimited minutes, people seem to abuse the cell. Most people just use it in public to impress others.

Caryl asked:

When serving a sit-down dinner from which side do you give the plate and which order do you take them away (i.e. women first)?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Remember, serve on the left and remove on the right. You remove the plates according to who is finished. It is not a gender thing.

EMF asked:

I have a friend who's fiancÚ was invited to a wedding and she was not. However, she and her fiancÚ introduced the couple getting married to each other. Is it inappropriate that she was not invited to the wedding?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I don't understand how you can invite an engaged person and not their fiancÚ. It's not important whether she was one of the people who introduced the couple, good manners dictate that you invite both just like a married couple.

Judy asked:

I am going to a High Tea at Harrod's in London in April. What is the proper dress and manners?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I have been to High Tea at Harrod's. A nice sweater set and either skirt or pants would be fine. Manners - no spilling, no yelling, seriously. Nothing special. Just enjoy a time-worn custom.

J and B asked:

We are going to a holiday potluck "Yankee auction" party hosted by friends. We were asked to bring a main course dish. We're bringing a ham. It's very expensive. Do we get to bring home the left over or is that bad manners? Thanks!

The Etiquette Queen says:

Yes you can bring it home as long as you offer to leave some of it with the hostess.

Dave asked:

Do you need to RSVP even if not specifically asked to do so?

The Etiquette Queen says:

No, but it would be a polite gesture and a way of thanking your host/hostess in advance.

bebe asked:

What is the correct form of address to use to political figures such as a state governor, a city official such as a councilman, etc.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Use their title i.e. Hello Governor Smith, Rep. Brown.

R Cooke asked:

What should a host do when other family members bring their dog(s) to dinner? There were FOUR dogs at our Thanksgiving dinner -- in, under and around the table during the meal! -- and none of the non-dog owners and host, who are all annoyed by the presence of the dogs, felt free to say anything. The dog owners treated their dogs as if they were their "children," talking with them during the dinner. My feeling is that it would have been appropriate for someone to indicate annoyance -- but how can this be done without putting a damper on the festivities and creating tension at what is supposed to be a joyful event?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I can't believe that these people had the nerve to bring their animals. That was the height of rudeness and inconsideration. With people like that, you didn't have to hold your tongues. As long as they were there already, they should have been confined to the outdoors or taken home. Don't feel guilty. It's your home, your dinner, your things. Anything could have happened. Nest time, make it clear, 2 footed guests only and if they don't want to come, so be it.

Barbara asked:

What is the proper way to address a thank you note to a couple? Dear Tom and Jane or Dear Jane and Tom?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Put the lady first.

Maureen asked:

Is it proper to send a sympathy card to someone who lost their step child that they were not close to? The card would be sent to the step aunt of this person. Don't know what to do!

The Etiquette Queen says:

Do you feel sympathy? If so, send a card, if not express it verbally the next time you see this person.

Randy asked:

If I'm going to Thanksgiving dinner with a family that I know NOTHING about, is it ok to bring wine as a hostess gift?

The Etiquette Queen says:

As a past, present, and future hostess, I always appreciate a bottle of wine.

Paula asked:

What are some differences and similarities of dining etiquette between Arabs and U.S.?

The Etiquette Queen says:

One difference I know about is that they frequently sit on the floor. Another is that they eat with their hands instead of utensils to cut things up. Another is that a burp shows pleasure for a good meal.

Marcy asked:

Does a man or woman enter a revolving door first? And does it matter if it is moving or stationary upon entry?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Don't stop, you'll trip someone. Keep the flow. I, personally, will use a stationary door given the chance. As far as who enters first, it depends upon who gets there first but given a choice, let her go first and you control the speed.

Sam asked:

Could you send me some tips on how teens should act around adults while at a party or church or just hanging around with them what are some major do's and don't's! Sam

The Etiquette Queen says:

Manners, respect, being polite - all things you want for yourself so you should give them to others. It doesn't matter how old anyone is, everyone wants the same thing. Too loud, foul mouthed, show off behavior is dumb and stupid anywhere. Believe it or not, lots of adults like talking to teens and learning what they think and have to say. Don't be afraid to ask questions and then listen to the answers.

Kimberly asked:

I am a bridesmaid in an upcoming wedding. The groom is 20 years old and the bride is 32. I am also 32. The rehearsal dinner is at Chuck E. Cheese's pizza parlor. If you don't know about it, it's a favorite for children's birthday parties. The last time I was there was for a 3 year old's BD party. I have RSVP'd for the rehearsal and declined the dinner. Is this improper etiquette?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You can do whatever you want. No problem. Sounds like a strange couple to begin with so don't worry.

Elizabeth asked:

My husband thinks it's gross to apply lipstick and powder after dinner out, at the table? Is this true?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I don't like seeing that. It usually means that the person doesn't have enough manners to go to the ladies room to do this. But there is no rule. If it grosses him out, don't do it.

Melissa asked:

Is it rude to attend the wedding reception and not the wedding? Our friends are getting married 2 hours away and there is a 3 hour time frame between wedding and reception. We are taking a limo so we will have no transportation between wedding and reception and most importantly no where to go!

The Etiquette Queen says:

It would be rude. See if there's a movie or a great mall or something to do while you are waiting.

joanne asked:

where and how in history did it come about that it is improper or disrespectful for a male not to remove his hat upon entering someone's home?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I'm not 100% sure. Some say it started when the gentlemen began tipping their hats to ladies upon meeting them and graduated into removal. Some say it is a sign of respect. Whatever the real story of the origin, it began in western Europe a couple of hundred years ago.

William asked:

On Oct. 9, I am giving a surprise party for my sister's 60th birthday. About 90 people are invited. It will be in a church fellowship hall. I am providing champagne punch (alcoholic) and fruit punch (non-alcoholic), among other things. Is it okay for me to put an attractive card in front of each bowl labeling each kind of punch, and then permitting people to serve themselves? I really don't want to ask any of my guests to pour punch for me, and I don't have time to do it myself! (No children are expected.)

The Etiquette Queen says:

It is not only OK but should be done in case someone can't have alcohol.

Kelly asked:

We are holding a 40th Anniversary Party for my in-laws: 1-4pmn on a Sunday. I am in favor of calling it a "Cocktail Party" (hors dourest/wine/punch), but my mother-in-law (is concerned about the two ministers who will be receiving an invite! As well mil just wants to serve punch & non-alcoholic punch, I think that for a 100 person open house there should be wine, beer & non-alcoholic punch...what are your thoughts? Money is not an object.

The Etiquette Queen says:

I wouldn't call it a cocktail party because it is happening before 5 PM. You could call it a "Come-and-Go" party or open house. As far as alcohol is concerned, ministers drink alcohol so don't worry about that. You will have non-alcoholic beverages for those that don't drink.

Brynda asked:

WE are giving a 50th Wedding Anniv. party for my in-laws. We have picked the date, time and place, and my husbands parents picked the guest list. In trying to pick a buffet dinner menu we are down to two diverse choices: Prime rib or Mexican buffet dinner. Would it be appropriate to ask the parents which they would prefer to have?? Thank you SO much

The Etiquette Queen says:

Of course, ask them. It is a party for them. I would think the Mexican one would mean a more casual party.

Winde asked:

My sister-in-law is getting married in December. In the course of a conversation the other day, she mentioned that she was planning to send pre-printed thank you notes for the gifts she receives. I absolutely cringed at the suggestion. I always thought that this was a big etiquette no-no, but it seems that it is becoming more and more popular these days. The way I see it, if someone can go to the time, trouble, and expense to pick out a gift for you, the LEAST you can do is jot down a few words to say "thank you." In my opinion, this is a tacky and rude practice. I was wondering if you could deny or confirm my beliefs on this subject. Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned. ~Winde

The Etiquette Queen says:

You are not 'old-fashioned". Anyone who does that pre-printed is not only lazy but doesn't deserve the gift. I agree with you but you can't change some people's minds. Just respond if asked.

Lisa asked:

I am having my 16th birthday party and there is going to be a DJ. It may cause some disturbance with the neighbors. I need to write a short note to them telling them that there maybe some loud noise late at night. I don't know exactly what to tell them and what to say? Can you help?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Just say "A girl only turns 16 one time and it's my turn. I'm having a party and instead of surprising you with lots of people in the neighborhood and some sort of loud music, I'd thought you might like a little advance notice. I promise to try to keep the excessive noise down (and fill in a time and make it reasonable.) I'm sorry for the inconvenience and promise not to turn 16 every again. Thanks for your understanding and if you want to drop in, OK.

Angel asked:

My boyfriend and I have been invited to a christening for the son of some old friends of his. We want to go, but we are very busy that weekend. Is it appropriate to just attend the reception? Or would that be rude if we haven't gone to the church part? Also, we are not particularly interested in sitting through a religious service, but do not want to offend the parents.

The Etiquette Queen says:

It would not be rude to attend the reception alone. Bring a little gift and no one will care.

Linda asked:

my in-laws and I had a surprise baby shower for my brother in-law and his girlfriend, it was at my house we decided on a pot luck , with a pot luck we had plenty of food for everybody and plenty for seconds and thirds, but when my in-laws where getting ready to leave they started to take there food back with them, before I notice there where no food or drinks for the other gust. this was my first time planning a party with my inlaws,and I feel that they should of left the food knowing the party was still going on. is right for me to feel upset about this? I have never notice this about them, when ever they have a gathering my husband and I always bring food but never bring our food back with us I think its rude to do that.

The Etiquette Queen says:

You are right but I think you need to talk this over with your husband. If he agrees with you, either let him say something to his parents or leave it alone. You can't win. Just remember and don't put yourself in a position for it to happen again.

christina asked:

I am having a birthday party for my husband. I know he won't write thank you cards because it is just not his style. (He might if I have them stamped/addressed for him and under his nose everywhere he goes in the house). Any comment? p.s. I like your site but I think it's time to organize in subcategories.

The Etiquette Queen says:

If he's old enough to get the gift, he's old enough to write the note. Give him a draft of a "for instance" and he can use it for all the notes. l. Thank you for coming to my party and for_________ 2. I really appreciate you thought. 3. thank you again. etc.

dianne wierenga asked:

We have a sister-in-law who constantly berates my sisters, brother and I for mopping our plate with our bread/roll after we eat( in the privacy of our own houses) is this so awful??? Also is it proper when a very large family (55/56 people) get together for a picnic or holiday and the theme is- bring a dish to pass, is it so important that our single brother who is fifty bring a dish to pass? PLEASE--- WE ALWAYS HAVE PLENTY LEFT OVER, BUT THE "PROPER" SISTER-IN-LAW always throws a fit if he just shows up with pickles or watermelon...We think it is fine, what do you say?? janet & dianne, 2 sisters of eleven children!

The Etiquette Queen says:

well, she sounds like a "pill" to me but you probably can't change her. At a casual affair, it is fine to "Mop up" with bread or rolls as long as you don't do it like a pig. As for your single brother, have him bring beverages. That should zip her up, maybe. I get the feeling, nothing will please her. Turn a deaf ear and enjoy the other family members. That way, she'll only upset herself.

Phil asked:

I was recently told that, at least in the past, it was considered inappropriate to congratulate a bride when she gets married; one should only do that with the groom. Is that still the case? If so, what should you say to the bride: a) when you find out that she's engaged; b) at the wedding; c) if you don't attend the wedding but are talking to her after she's just gotten married.

The Etiquette Queen says:

You are only partially right. You congratulate the groom only on the engagement. You congratulate both on the wedding, whenever and wherever you would like.

Cynthia asked:

How long should you wait before sending someone a Thanks You note for a money gift, that you received for your first anniversary. Thanks, Cynthia

The Etiquette Queen says:

All gifts should be thanked by 1 month after receiving it. Doesn't matter if it's money or a "thing".

Linda asked:

We are getting married on a Schooner. There will be a luncheon reception onboard. Do we provide lunch for the Captain and first mate of the boat?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If the Captain is the one marrying you, then feed him for sure. Arrange for something for them to eat, even if they won't be joining you for the main meal.

Michelle asked:

I'm planning a baby shower for my sister and have sent out 16 invitations. Thus far I've only received two RSVPs. The shower is a week and a half away, and the invited only have two more days to respond. Should I assume that they are not coming? I'm on a serious budget, so if only two people have had the decency to respond, I'd prefer just to take them and my sister out to lunch instead of spending a lot of money wishfully thinking that these people might show. Also, I'm somewhat estranged from my family, so even inviting them was a huge step for me; I don't feel comfortable calling them and asking if they plan to attend. What should I do? And, what if I do take them out to lunch and someone erroneously shows up for the then-defunct party? HELP!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

If you don't fee comfortable calling to see if someone is coming, how can you feel comfortable if they show up. You only have a few choices: 1. Call the ill behaved 14 and ask if they are coming and if it ends up as only 2, go out to lunch or, 2. Forget the ones who didn't respond and just take your sister and the 2 to lunch or, 3. Have your sister call.

Mandy asked:

My husband & I received an invitation to a cousin's 30th birthday party. It stated "please join us for dinner" at an expensive restaurant. An RSVP was requested. We brought a nice gift and also included a check. After dinner, the bill for our dinners was presented to us to our surprise. Should the invitation have stated that the dinner will be the guests' responsibility and not the hosts? I am curious. Thanks in advance!

The Etiquette Queen says:

When you responded, you should have been told then. But, alas, it was not said. It is not uncommon to pay for your own meal but a gift and check was one thing too many. Next time, have the host make it clear.

Irwin asked:

Is there an etiquette issue, when passing either the salt or pepper that they should both be passed together or can they be passed independent of each other?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Stick to passing both. The assumption is that the person wants to season his food so save yourself a possible second pass. No etiquette issue though.

Monica Watson asked:

Is it ok to let your guests know what type of gift o bring for a 3 year old birthday party? Maybe by putting "She likes Barbie and Barney" on the bottom of the invitations.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Unless you are sending Barbie or Barney invitations, you shouldn't put any remarks. If you are asked, then tell. We used Barney invitations for a birthday. Made it obvious.

Fran Kelly asked:

I was invited to a bridal shower the early part of June. The bride is the niece of a good friend. I knew the bride was getting married August 1. I waited for the invitation and by the middle of July, I asked my friend if I was invited to the wedding. She told me that 175 people were invited but they had to cut somewhere and even some first cousins weren't invited. I feel used. I feel like I was asked only for the gift. What bothers me most is that it was my friend who invited me to the shower, although it was her sister who did not invite me to the wedding. Is this customary? or am I missing something?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You're not missing something. It is rude to have someone to a shower with no intention of inviting them to the wedding. Now you have to decide how you will handle your friendship. Try to decide if you can trust this friend, can you get by the incident.

Ann asked:

when inviting out of town guests to a evening surprise 70th birthday party. Are you obligated to hold a get together the next day also? most are family, and the gathering would be at the 7oyr olds home. It is closest to the event.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Since you are already having a party the night before, the only thing you might do is have a brunch the next day. But keep it simple, bagels, sweet rolls, coffee, juice. Make it simple enough so that you don't have to keep going into the kitchen and worry about keeping anything hot except the coffee.

allison asked:

if one person accidentally drinks from another person's cup and both learn of it soon after, is there anything to do besides sitting in uncomfortable silence? Is just an apology ok, or should the hostess pour new drinks, or what?

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all laugh at the whole situation. we've all been in it on one end or another. Then apologize (don't make too big a deal of it) and offer to replace the beverage.

Katie asked:

I am planning my daughters 1st birthday party. We are having a cookout with family and close friends, totaling about 30 people. We would like to ask our guests to bring a dish to pass. We will be providing burgers and hot dogs, beverages, table service, etc... Is it rude to ask guests to bring a dish to pass to such an informal get together? Thank you!

The Etiquette Queen says:

Absolutely not. It's called a pitch-in dinner. Be sure to coordinate the dishes you that you have all bases covered.

Name = kk allen asked:


The Etiquette Queen says:

She should sit wherever it makes her the most comfortable. She can always get up and spend time with the others. Given a choice, sit with your contemporaries.

Sandi asked:

One of the ladies in the office is getting married. The majority of the office took a collection for a gift and card. They also took her to lunch on company time and excluded a few other ladies. They claim this was proper bridal etiquette. What do you say?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I say that #1 - it was their decision to exclude some people, #2 - it was rude to do so and #3 - you cant change bad behavior in others so do the arranging yourself the next time.

Nancy asked:

My niece is married to a terrific guy. I'm happy he is a part of the family. When I am talking about him, or introduce him, how am I to identify him other than by name. Would he be my nephew-in-law; my nephew or simply my niece's husband? This has baffled me for 5 years now. Please advise.

The Etiquette Queen says:

If you really like him, he's your nephew. There's no such thing as a nephew-in-law and my niece's husband sounds like you can barely tolerate him.

girlfriend asked:

My boyfriend's older brother will be getting married in a month. The bride-to-be, who I have barely met, sent me an invitation to her bridal tea/shower, hosted by the ladies of her hometown church (she currently resides in the same town as me, my boyfriend, and his brother). Am I obligated to attend, and am I obligated to acknowledge the invitation with a gift? Also, my boyfriend has asked that I sit with his family at the wedding, rather than my parents. Is that appropriate?

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, if you like your boyfriend, you should probably attend. They asked you out of courtesy and that should be returned. You can give the bride your wedding present at the shower. And, sit with your boyfriend at the wedding.

katie asked:

I have been invited to a wedding and I lost the RSVP of what I am ordering and if I am bringing a guest. What should I do ?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Contact the hostess and explain. We're all human!

Danielle Clark asked:

My mother's friend is offering her home and offering to prepare the food for the bridal luncheon, although she is not paying for the food. What is the correct wording for the invitation? (I have heard that correct etiquette is that the bride does not host the bridal luncheon.)

The Etiquette Queen says:

I assume you are the bride. Why not list your mom as co-hostess with her friend. You are right. A bride does not give her own lunch.

See more Etiquette Queen Questions of Manners

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