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Etiquette question for anyone and everyone

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Allright. I know there are people of all ages around here, so I'm appealing to everyone to answer a couple of questions on etiquette.

I know you don't put registry information on your wedding invites. That's basically demanding gifts, and that's just tacky. So I'm wondering this:

If you invite people to your own housewarming/birthday party, is it tacky to put on the invitation to please bring housewares instead of birthday presents?

My thoughts are these: if shows a lack of class to demand presents at your wedding, it certainly shows a lack of class to demand them for your own birthday/housewarming. It's further compounded by the fact that you're assuming your close friends--whom you've already insulted by demanding presents from them--can't be trusted to consider that you're eating off paper plates and solo cups in your new apartment rather than get you completely useless and trivial birthday gifts.

In context, I got this invitation via facebook through a friend-of-a-friend (more like friend-and-former-roommate-of-
my-fiance's-sister). I was shocked by the assumption and demand of tribute.

I understand that kids--my age and younger--don't all seem to understand the concept of host/hostess-guest relationships. I've always brought a hostess gift to a party, but I've met a lot of people who don't do that. You have to be prepared for that, because as a host/ess, you are inviting people into your home for a good time. It's not a barter system whereby you provide an evening of entertainment in exchange for gifts. In contrast, my fiance's parents have let parties be held in their house at the request of our friends, but because it was a group of people asking to use their space, everyone brought food or their own drinks to split the cost of comestibles. A party that YOU plan and invite other people to is not the same. You're asking people to come enjoy time in your company, not to buy you stuff and show up with it at a predetermined time.

So that's my question. I'm also curious about bridal and baby showers. Are those registries placed on invitations, or is it the same routine as for wedding registries?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I was always taught that there should be no mention of gifts and no mention of a registry in any invitation to any event, including weddings. I was taught that, if people want to know where you are registered or what you could use as a gift, then people will ask you, a friend, your mom, etc.
    2257 days ago
    I did consider this girl's situation. Her friends are mostly minimum wage earners, so it's not like any of them would host a housewarming for her. But in my fiance's words this morning:

    "Seriously?! That's like going up to everyone you know and saying, hey, I have my first place by myself, and I think you should come over for a party I'm having for the express purpose of giving me random **** I might need instead of birthday presents. Because even though you're all broke college students/recent high school graduates I expect that you will buy me presents because I bought you presents for your birthday. Oh, and since I'm broke too, I want everyone to chip in for food, as well."

    Sounds pretty darn rude when you take away the thin veneer of politeness. Sure, it's nice to reciprocate if someone gives you a gift, but to demand it is not.

    So here's what I've gotten so far from Sparkers: Traditional approaches to gift giving/receiving are losing vogue for some people, but the traditional standpoint is that you don't put registry/gift information anywhere, ever. Invitees who RSVP and who intend on gifting the mother-to-be/happy couple/whatever ask the mother/best friend/aunt/other person accepting the RSVPs if you are registered, where you are registered, if you're accepting money/gift certificates in lieu of gifts, etc. Or, if it's not a surprise, they ask you directly what you want or need.

    The fiance pointed out that he thinks its stupid to register for a wedding because people should just save up to get stuff. I didn't have time to explain that giving a couple like us (or at least the bride), who will be starting out with nothing of our own, the things needed to start a home together has been a marriage tradition across all cultures since we started marrying each other.
    2258 days ago
    Great topic and I'm so happy to see other Sparkers with similar opinions!

    No, no, no, no, no. Doesn't matter if everyone else does it, the correct answer is no. You are correct; it is tacky and presumptuous to include a registry card or registry info anywhere within the invite (even if it's on a separate card, which print shops are quick to push). My biggest pet peeve now is the "Vacation Registry." Basically, the couple is asking for family, friends, & guests to fund the honeymoon. Even the "No Gifts Please," which we considered (before Miss Manners set me straight), is unacceptable since it's presuming your guests will want to get you a gift.

    You are correct: Your friends and family will know what you need; and if there are those that are unsure, they'll either ask you directly or ask your relatives and/or close friends.

    Good luck! emoticon
    2258 days ago
    I think it is strange to expect gifts at a housewarming party, much less ask for the directly!

    I got married two years ago. Invitations for my bridal shower were sent out by my aunt. I never actually saw one of them, but I'm pretty sure the registry info was on there. I actually included registry information in my invites (not on the actual invite itself, but the places I registered gave me little slips of paper you can put in the envelope). I didn't really think about the etiquette of it since I've only been to one other wedding before that and they did the same thing. Maybe it was tacky, but it seemed like the easiest way to do it, especially since many of our guests may not have known anyone in our bridal party or our relatives.
    2258 days ago
    My friends always ask what I want, so maybe your friends will too? If not, accept the presents. The fact that they care enough to buy a present is lovely, I don't think you get to chose what you get unless they ask you. I am actually of the opinion that registries are rude (they are not common here) and you should get what you're given and be grateful.
    2259 days ago
    I'm from the school of "no mention of gifts in the invitation, ever". If there is a registry, it's supposed to go by word of mouth via people close to the couple/mother to be/whatever.

    I recently received an invite to a housewarming party that specified three acceptable gifts: 1) champagne (what, sparkling wine won't do?) 2) a plant 3) a self portrait. REALLY. Those were our three choices. I hope she enjoyed her quirky fridge magnets, because I don't do demands very well...
    2259 days ago
  • GINAV2
    I know that all the baby and bridal showers that I've been invited to have included registry info in with the invitation, but those have at least been sent by friends or parents on behalf of the bride- or mom- to-be. I've never seen registry info in with a wedding invitation (though I have noticed that wedding websites seem to be all the rage, and registry info does pop up there). I do understand the whole registry thing, but it does seem a bit tacky, even if I do see the point.

    But for a housewarming? Are you kidding?! I mean, yes, it would probably seem equally rude to show up to a housewarming / birthday party empty handed, but it is so crass to demand gifts...and then specify what they should be! Blegh.

    'Course, I also think Facebook invites are a bit rude too. If you're going to "demand tribute" at least take the time to write an e-mail or make a quick e-vite! But that's just. me. :)
    2259 days ago
    Thinking about this stuff makes my head hurt. Although I do think this was covered in an episode of Sex in the City - maybe I will have dig out my DVD's and re-watch them.
    2259 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/12/2012 4:27:07 PM
    The whole gift-giving concept is based on old-world culture, when young people really DID start out with nothing and the whole village/family chipped in to get them started. The sense of entitlement these days is astounding. Bridal and baby showers at least are given by friends or relatives of the giftees, so at least they're not asking you DIRECTLY for a handout. But a housewarming? Sounds like a case of the "gimmes" to me.
    2259 days ago
    .I'm old school and find this asking for gifts for everything under the sun is a bit much. I always thought that a gift was just that not a expectation. We just had three weddings in our family 11 months apart. The bride and grooms each had been living together for 1 year or more yet all of them had to have several bridal showers, then a bachelorette party which you were expected to ante up for, followed by a wedding invitation with their list of stores they were registered at. One even went so far as to print on it that yes they really do need everything including a 195.00 garbage can they had on their registry. After that was the baby showers are we expected to buy a big gift for each child they have? I don't have any answers to your question but if you find out we all sure would like to know.
    2259 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/12/2012 3:03:05 PM
    BEARCLAW6, I agree that that's the way it's done. Same for weddings, you tell your bridesmaids and your relatives where you're registered, and its expected that guests ask one of the bridal party or the person to whom they RSVP.

    If you're asked what you want, that's one thing, but advertising your wish list stops when you're about 10.

    And WADINGMOOSE, I've seen that over and over again! I went to my grandmother and asked her about it. Some traditions just need to stay as-is.
    2259 days ago
    I think that one thing that some people do to get around this is to mention to a few select friends that if anyone was thinking about a gift, that a housewares gift would be loved. Then ask them to spread the word.

    Honestly, I come from a family where we are asked what we would like to get and sometimes even help pick it out. Let's face it....if I am giving someone a $20 gift, do I really want it to be something they don't want and will never use?

    Also, as a gift giver, I will also sometimes commit the sin of giving a gift certificate for something that I like (restaurant, store) and hope that the person getting will then use the certificate to get something that they will really like.....I just don't like the idea of giving someone something that they won't actually want.
    2259 days ago
    Ah yes, the expectation of gifts. Yes, I'd agree that it's rude. But so many people just don't realize that these days. When I was planning my wedding, I hung out on a wedding website and you wouldn't believe the number of people who didn't care that it was rude to mention gifts/registry on the invitation. It's kind of scary, actually.
    2259 days ago
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