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Discussion Forums

The Etiquette Queen Parties

Miscellaneous Questions
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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.

Britt asked:

I am going to my mom's house in Palm Beach Gardens Florida, my sisters (3) and their children (5) will be their with us for my daughter's first birthday. I want to do something very special. My mom and step dad work out of their home with 2 other employees. My daughter's birthday will be on a Wednesday so they will be working during the day. Where and what do you think that we should do for her birthday? Should we have it at the park or beach during the day with her cousins? Or should we have it at 5:00 at night when they are done with work? My step dad and mom took a long lunch once to go ice skating with my older daughter so they might be able to take off a long lunch again. I don't know if I want to have it at their house with all of us in a 4 bedroom house, it does have a pool though, it might be a little hard with the guests already at the party to get the place decorated, or should we hire someone for entertainment? Any help would be great.

The Etiquette Queen says:

You are visiting a wonderful part of the country where having a party outside is perfect. Your daughter won't know the difference between a Wednesday and a Saturday or Sunday. By all means, you should include your mom and step dad but do it at a time that is convenient for all. They are having all of you stay at their home which has to be hectic. Then you can have the party around the pool and decorate the grounds. A birthday party for a 1 year old is all about family and food and pictures. Do it yourself - look at for great decorations.

Sarah asked:

Dear Etiquette Queen, I am throwing a Sweet Sixteen party for my sister this weekend (it is a surprise party). However, I have discovered that some of her friends that I invited have been "spreading the word" to almost everybody they see! Including people my sister does not even know. How do I politely tell these good-intentioned friends that the guest list needs to be under control? Also, if the party does get out of hand, as it is likely to do, what is a polite AND EFFECTIVE way to ask some of the more unknown guests to leave? Thank you for taking the time to read my question, and I pray that you will answer before the occasion! This is a party emergency!

The Etiquette Queen says:

The best way to keep things in hand is not admit anyone who wasn't invited by you. Have adults at the party for backup. I know it seems like a dorky thing to do but it's the safe thing to do. That way not only will uninvited guests be kept out but also things like liquor, drugs or anything else that isn't wanted. The adults can be the "bad guys" and take you off the hook. the next time you plan a party of any kind, be sure to tell the invitees that it is a "by invitations" party only.

KS asked:

I am in charge of an awards banquet at a high school. My question is: Why do so many people use round tables verses the rectangle banquet tables. I have both types I can use. I had thought to go with the banquet tables but every picture I ever see has the round tables. It seems to be less expensive to go with the banquet table coverings. I just wonder if there was a reason. This banquet is for 100 people! Thank you

The Etiquette Queen says:

The best reason in the world. It is much easier to have good conversation at a round table. That way everyone can be included in a conversation or it can be between just a few people. At a rectangle table, it is hard to talk to everyone. Also, it is easier to set a round with all the plates.

Cari asked:

I'm having a Luau B.Day party for about 6 children and parents, extended family etc. Do I let the kids play games (limbo, hula dancing etc.) before or after the cake and gifts. I'll want to "Keep things moving"

The Etiquette Queen says:

A lot depends upon the age of the kids. Under 10s tend to get bored quickly. Break up everything with a game in between so they won't get bored and they'll get to move around.

Jordan asked:

My sisters and I are having a retirement dinner for our mom. We are expecting 150 or more people and dinner will be served buffet style, D.J. and cash bar. My mother would like her family (six children, four spouses, four grandchildren and her mother) to sit with her at the head table. The guest speaker is the president of her company. The host and one of the presenters also hold high positions within company. What is the appropriate seating arrangement for these guests. Should the three company employees sit at a separate reserved table. Should the guest speaker/president sit with the family?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I have to tell you that I hate head tables. Everyone sits in a line and can't talk to each other. I much prefer prominent rounds. Why not do 2 tables of 10 for the family and the host, speaker, etc. Or 2 tables of 8 and the children at a children's table. This way, people can speak to each other without having everyone watch them eat.

Veronica asked:

Planning a trip to Paris. What are some general do's and don'ts of eating out in Paris?

The Etiquette Queen says:

The rules are the same as eating out in America with one exception, everything is in French. Don't pretend to know the language or you could end up ordering a big surprise.

K. asked:

My family and I are planning a "this is your life" birthday party for my mother. we would like for each of the guest to be wearing a mask upon her arrival. is it appropriate to ask each of the guest on the invitation to purchase their own mask at a designated store in their area?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could do that or you could look at They have all sorts of things at a very low cost and then they would match.

Cotton asked:

I have been dating a man for 1 month today. Do I give him a card? gift? He says he doesn't believe in Valentine's day, but I think he knows that it means something to me. I am not expecting a gift or card but certainly would like a gesture of sorts...Do I get him something or not?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I think you should listen to him for whatever his reasons are. If you do something, you could embarrass him. Cool it. You have plenty of time.

Chris asked:

I am planning a 30th surprise party for my husband, and I am having a problem with the guest list. My husband is close with his one set of cousins, but since I am inviting them, do I have to invite all the cousins? Same thing goes with his co-workers and another group of friends we have. What are the rules to this. If you want to invite just a couple, is it bad manners to not invite the rest? I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings, but the list keeps growing, while space is starting to become tighter (along with the funds). Please help. Thank you very much.

The Etiquette Queen says:

You have the universal problem - where does it end? When it comes to family, you will insult those cousins you don't invite and possibly create family problems. Think about this. As far as others, just invite those people your husband would like to have. You don't have to have the entire office. Good luck.

Jeanette asked:

Should raw onions be placed on a salad being served to guests?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Speaking as someone who doesn't eat ray onions, I appreciate them on a separate plate for each person to make their own decision. Somehow, even if I remove them, the taste stays.

AZ asked:

When dining at a Korean restaurant, is it bad form to ask for a "doggy-bag"? Further, is it unacceptable to ask the wait-staff to wrap the assortment of "side dishes" that accompany Korean meals?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I have a theory, if you paid for it, it's yours. If you can't finish it at the restaurant, you can certainly ask for a "doggy-bag"; the type of the restaurant isn't an issue. As for the side dishes, think of it this way - if you were at a rib place and were taking home ribs, would you ask for extra sauce? Good rule of thumb - yes.

Sarah asked:

I need to ask my employer to make a charitable contribution to a worthy cause and don't know how to go about it. Can you offer any advice?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I realize that asking the boss is hard but approach it like you would anyone else. Keep it on a business level and look him/her in the eye.

Veronica asked:

One of our best friend's mother has come recently from overseas. My husband and I want to invite them for dinner as a gesture of welcoming the mother, is it appropriate to invite other people too (e.g. another couple who are friends of ours and also friends of the other families (but the mother does not know them)?, or is it better for the mother to feel that we arranged this party especially for her, thank you.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Moving to a new place, let alone a new country can be quite overwhelming. Why not just have dinner for your family and theirs. This will give you the opportunity to get to know her and give her the time to settle in. You can do something larger later, maybe an outdoor party in the summer.

Connie asked:

What is appropriate for celebrating a 25th anniversary? We have 6 children who want to do 'something' for us. Their ideas range from, a)our siblings, our children & us getting together for cake & ice cream, to b)a buffet style meal for family & friends - approx. 200-250 people - with music and cake and champagne (neither of us drink). What is acceptable?

The Etiquette Queen says:

What is the budget? Big question. Probably the most important. What would you like? Maybe you would prefer the kids to take the money spent on a big party and send you on a trip. Think about the options and decide what you would like within the budget and then don't be afraid to tell them.

Clarice asked:

Is there an appropriate gift for a citizenship party?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Anything could be appropriate. It would depend upon the "new citizen's" age, gender, need, feelings, etc. How about a party?

Amira asked:

I am helping plan a tea party for a soon to be 7 year old girl. I was wondering what the rules of etiquette were, and what fun ideas you may have for her age group.

The Etiquette Queen says:

There are no rules of etiquette for a children's party except to have fun. I usually believe in inviting the number of children as the birthday person is i.e. 7 guests for a 7 yr. old. As for what to do and how to do it, look at the theme page and gamegirl page. There are a ton of things to choose from.

Shae asked:

Who is invited to the bridesmaids' luncheon?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Generally the bride, the maid/matron of honor and the bridesmaids. You can include mothers if you like but this is usually a "young" peoples gathering.

Michelle asked:

My sister and her husband are planning an anniversary to  celebrate two wonderful years together. The theme of the celebration is  silver and white. I would like some suggestion for creating decorations  and party favors that honor is this color scheme. P.S. They did not have  a wedding, so this is actually the wedding reception they never had. So  it must be special :)

The Etiquette Queen says:

The signature item of a 2nd anniversary is cotton so why not use a "cloud" theme with white fluffy clouds and silver stars and glitter for centerpieces and all decorations. Look at for cute favors or go to a store like" Toys R Us" and see what they have with that theme. Possibly a unicorn beanie baby.

Jennifer asked:

I am new to my neighborhood, so I do not know any of the people  there, however, I have been invited to a "ladies night out" party. I  called the hostess and asked if there was anything I could bring, she said  no. Should I still bring a little something as it is a wine, cheese,  cracker, and chat party?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If you asked and she said no, then don't bring anything but a smile and yourself. After the party, you might want to call to thank her and maybe invite her over for coffee.

Jeanne asked:

What is a proper way of congratulating a friend on a job promotion, i.e. VP to President of a company?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Lots of options from calling or sending a card, sending a bottle of champagne or taking it in person, treating someone to dinner. It all depends upon how much you want to spend. As long as the congrats are sincere, you can do anything you want.

Debbie asked:

I am the mother of the groom. I want to have an engagement party and was wondering if it was appropriate for the groom to be parents to host this function since the families live in different locations. thank you

The Etiquette Queen says:

Of course it appropriate. I think too many grooms-to-be families feel left out and this would be a great way to get the blended families together.

Anik asked:

When we go out for dinner with another couple and decide to drive together to the restaurant. Is it rude for me to sit upfront with my husband or should I let both men sit together and I sit with the other women?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Usually the best way to figure out the seating in a car is where everyone fits the best. There is no rule.

Stacy asked:

My husband is graduating this May with his Masters in Education, and I would like to have a reception for him at nice quaint restaurant and I was not sure if it were correct to have a money tree or even to have the couples pay for themselves since we are on a tight budget working for a the school system? The reason I am doing this is because for his BA graduation nothing was done for him to congratulate him on his efforts and accomplishments...please help with the etiquette way to handle this... thanks!

The Etiquette Queen says:

I hate money trees - show greed in my opinion. Since you are on a tight budget, I'm sure your guests will understand. Why not tell them there will be a cash bar and have a small buffet that you can afford with hors d'oeuvres or something like that. Or, tell everyone that it is a cash bar and how much the meal is and you provide the dessert and maybe a champagne toast.

Kim asked:

I'm having a 50th wedding anniversary party for my mom and dad. And I don't know what to say. Do you tell about when the meeting and so on?

The Etiquette Queen says:

I assume you are talking about a toast. Just speak personally and from your heart. That's always the best. You might ask the guests to send you a photo and/or a memory and make an album to give them.

Lisa asked:

Is a person supposed to tip a hair salon owner if he's the one who does your hair?

The Etiquette Queen says:

No you don't tip the owner. Usually the cost is more if that person does the work.

Lori asked:

What is the proper way to eat spaghetti? I've read that you twirl it on a fork using a spoon and I've also read that you twirl it on the fork, no spoon needed?

The Etiquette Queen says:

In Italy, they use the large spoon. There is no one way to do it. The only rule I follow when eating spaghetti is - Don't Wear White!!!"

Agusta asked:

I really want to go to prom with this guy who goes to another school. If I ask him to take me to my prop- should I buy the tickets and pay for all the general prom stuff? How does it work?     Thank you very much!

The Etiquette Queen says:

Didn't I already answer this one today.

Annette asked:

I am planning a banquet for my pastor (semi formal) and want to have a DJ, would it be appropriate to just have the DJ play soft piano music to set the mood for a relaxing evening?

The Etiquette Queen says:

If that's the sort of music you want, then it isn't a DJ you need. I don't know what's available where you live but when that's what I need, I have someone who teaches music at the high school who also plays piano at parties. DJs don't play the piano, just tape. Probably won't cost as much either.

Melissa asked:

I am going to a Hawaiian-themed party, and plan to wear a flower behind my ear. If I am single, which ear should it go behind?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You know, I never get that right. Check on the web, key word Hawaii and you'll get it right.

Stacey asked:

My question is:  I'm going to have a birthday party for my eight year old son. He has 27 children in his class. We also have around 10 boys in the neighborhood that my sons plays with on a regular basis. Who should he invite to his party? The party will be at our home, with a Moon bounce.???? I feel like I should invite them all, or should I? or should I only invite the boys from both? Should I hand out loots bags? If I have all those kids, that will be a lot of money to put out for supplies and loot bags?/ Thanks for any info  Thanks  Stacey

The Etiquette Queen says:

Sounds like a fun party but you can't let it get out of hand. At his age, forget the girls. Doesn't work, especially with physical stuff going on. If that brings the count down enough, go ahead and have the boys from class and from the neighborhood. If not, you will have to decide and I don't know which way you want to go. As far as loot bags, it doesn't have to cost a lot. Look at for great inexpensive stuff and buy candy in bulk.

Janet asked:

Who should be guests for a wedding's rehearsal dinner, besides the wedding party, minister, and the parents.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Out of town guests should be invited.

Stacie asked:

I have a couple of questions.  ---I Have a couple of close family members giving a baby shower. Do I need to take them a hostess gift, like you would for a bridal shower?   ---How do you cut finger sandwiches? In 4 triangles or 3 long fingers.   ---What is the exact way to pronounce petite fours?   These have brought up lots of discussions. Please help me, I'm here in the middle!!!!!!!!!!

The Etiquette Queen says:

You do not need to bring a gift to the hostess for a baby shower. The party is for the mom and baby. As long as it can be held in one hand gently, you can cut it any way. I personally would mix it up for an unusual arrangement. Hope this answers your questions. Sounds like "petty fours".

Kelly asked:

My daughter is graduating High School as Summa Cum laude. Somewhere on her graduation announcements I would like to acknowledge this. Is this proper.

The Etiquette Queen says:

This is just fine to do. You must be so proud. They would have to stop me from taking an ad in the papers. LOL

Jackie asked:

I am considering having a Valentine's party and would like to ask each guest to bring their favorite appetizer. I will provide a selection of desserts. MY QUESTION: I plan to serve champagne upon arrival, but don't have the budget to provide alcohol all night to 30 people. IS IT RUDE TO ASK EACH GUEST TO BRING APPETIZER AND BYOB? Any other suggestions on what I should do or how it should be worded on he invitation? Thanks! Jackie

The Etiquette Queen says:

Why not make a champagne punch! A little goes a longer way. Mix with 3 parts OJ and 1 part cranberry juice and make a ring mold with OJ and strawberries. Put BYOB and provide soft drinks. Then be cute and say your are having a dessert contest. Tell the guests to be creative with a dessert and have prizes for the most chocolate one, the funniest one, the craziest one, etc.

Pam asked:

I have been with my boyfriend for 7 years and he has a son that is graduating from high school the May. He has lived with us for the last 5 years and I feel like his step mom. I am wondering if it would be appropriate to ask his mother if she would like to have a graduation party with me? She and his father get along pretty good but I don't know if this would get awkward situation.

The Etiquette Queen says:

Talk to your boyfriend. If everyone is happy about that I think it would be great for the boy. After all, it's his special occasion. But see what his dad thinks. Also, how is your relationship with his mom? Unless you two can really come together for the event, you need to think it out.

Gioia asked:

What is the proper way to ask dinner guests to remove their shoes in my home during the bad weather so as not to ruin my floors or carpeting?

The Etiquette Queen says:

You could make a joke and put up a sign saying that you are all dining Japanese style and provide your guests with slippers. You can get disposable ones.

Jessica asked:

I need ideas for my sweet 16 birthday party. CAN YOU HELP ME??????

The Etiquette Queen says:

Have you looked at all the themes on the partygirl site? There are many areas there.

Everitt asked:

What is the correct way to place the cup on the saucer and where do you place the spoon?

The Etiquette Queen says:

The cup goes on the saucer above the knife and spoon on the right.

Alex asked:

When served wine at a restaurant, is it correct to only smell the small amount of wine that is poured into your glass, or should one taste this also?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Well, you could do the entire drill if you know what you are doing. Smell the cork, swish the wine in the glass and smell and then take a sip. this is done with a very small amount of wine. If everything is OK, tell the server to go ahead and pour.

Worried Mom asked:

My daughter recently got engaged and is planning on being married April 2001. When should the announcement be officially put in the newspapers and when should an engagement party be planned? It is going to be difficult, because I live in the Southwest and my daughter lives on the East Coast. None of our family lives in the Southwest?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Relax, you have plenty of time to make decisions. First of all, only put a notice in papers where someone who cares would know the couple. If there is no such good place, skip it. Tell friends and family by word of mouth. Conversation is much better so you can answer questions. No party needs to happen until a couple of months before the occasion.

inge asked:

What are updated versions of older types of etiquette?

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all there is too much to say in one place. Ask me a specific question or go to the library.

Libby asked:

Who are invited to the Bridesmaid luncheon? Is the director of the wedding for example invited? Thank you.

The Etiquette Queen says:

I really think that a bridesmaid lunch should be the bride, her attendants and maybe the two moms. If you have developed a close relationship with the wedding planner, you could invite that person but it isn't necessary.

Donna asked:

My husband is retiring after 35 years with General Motors. I am considering throwing a retirement party for him, however, I need to know if it is appropriate for a wife to throw a party for her husband. Is it appropriate to charge a fee for the party? I do not really think that it is appropriate, however, I have been to many retirement parties where I have had to pay and i did not object to doing so. The big difference though is these parties were thrown by fellow employees and not the spouse of the person retiring. I have a location where I could hold the party and I would cater it myself along with help from family but I have no ideas for activities. I was considering have a "hats off" party because my husband collects ball caps and I thought this would be a good way to add to his collection and also give him a memento from each person in attendance. I would be able to pay the expenses of throwing the party if I just invite family and close friends, however! ! ! , if I invite his fellow employees the cost of the party would be prohibitive. Can you tell me if it is appropriate for me to throw the party and if it is do you have suggestions for invitations and activities? Do you have any ideas for party favors? What do you think of the "hats off" theme? Please respond as soon as possible. Thank you so much.

The Etiquette Queen says:

First of all, love the theme. Look at for some great decorations and favor ideas. They are quite reasonably priced. Secondly, you could have a BYOB where you provide the food and the rest of the people provide the beverages, or you could have a pot luck and coordinate the dishes. I think you should restrict the party to family and close friends or things could get out of hand. And, yes, a spouse can give this party. I would think the people at work would do something on their own. Get a picture of him blown up to poster size and play a game of Pin-the-Hat and then have everyone sign it. Look at the gamegirl page under retirement games.

Sean asked:

What is the appropriate way to host a tea party?

The Etiquette Queen says:

There are many variables such as age, time of day, what you are serving, etc. Either write me with the details or go to the library and see what the books say.

Kim asked:

I am christening my daughter. What do you buy the godparents as a gift and what kind of favors do you give the guests?

The Etiquette Queen says:

The guests don't need to get anything if you are serving food and such. As for the godparents, you might give them a customized picture frame and put in a picture of the baby.

Margie asked:

I am a part of the HR department of a small organization. There is one particular employee - that because of their own cultural preferences does not shave and cleanse themselves on a daily basis. The result is a Bad Odor smell, that is very strong and does effect others in the office. Not sure how to handle this and what I can or should say to her?

The Etiquette Queen says:

Find out who is the closest to her and have them take her aside and explain about customs here in the U.S. Tell her that what may be fine one place may not work in another and since she must share space with others, she should show regard. This isn't easy but needs to be done. I had it happen in a place I worked once and a friend of that person told them privately and it helped.

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