Surprise: It's not okay to wait a year to send a wedding gift. From Peggy Post, a refresher course on this and other tricky rules.
woman shaking hands Mistake #1
Skipping an introduction. You don't introduce your friend Jen to acquaintance Ann because you've forgotten Ann's name.
Why it's wrong: You're being rude to both parties by not acquainting them with each other.
What to do instead: Don't be ashamed to admit your memory lapse (we've all been there). It's better to fess up than to pretend that these people don't need to be introduced. Say to Ann, "I remember meeting you, but unfortunately, I just can't recall your name. I'm so sorry!" If anything sticks in your mind about your first conversation with the person, bring it up: "We had such a great talk about your days in the Peace Corps.... It's just your name that's escaping me. Please help me out!" If you're afraid you'll insult the person whose name you've forgotten, you can always ask the woman you're speaking with to act as a buffer: "Jen, I'm drawing a blank on the name of the woman who's approaching us, but I don't want to be rude. Would you mind introducing yourself?"
woman reading message on phone Mistake #2
Being a vague guest. For example, you're invited to a party but never respond. Or, you're going for an overnight visit but fail to tell your hosts when you'll arrive and leave.
Why it's wrong: When you don't say yes or no to a party, the host may wonder if you're hoping a more exciting invitation will come along. You may be thinking no such thing, but the host can't know that, and her feelings could be hurt. In addition, she'll have a hard time making solid plans until she has a sense of how many people to expect (in the case of a party) or when guests are going to show up (for an overnight visit).
What to do instead: RSVP to every invitation promptly (it's thoughtful to do so even when no response has been requested). If you must check your schedule or see whether you can take days off from work, tell your host what's what and let her know when you'll get back to her. If you're a houseguest, inform your host of your travel plans as soon as they're firm.
woman handing over gift Mistake #3
Arriving at a party with a present in hand, even though the invitation says "no gifts, please."
Why it's wrong: You'll likely embarrass all the empty-handed guests, who obeyed the instructions.
What to do instead: "No gifts" means that the guest of honor really doesn't want the party to focus on presents. As a guest, it's your responsibility to respect those wishes. If you absolutely can't abstain - you've found the perfect figurine for your aunt's Precious Moments collection, say - give your gift in private either before or after the party.
Related: 25 Wacky Dog Behaviors - Explained
woman talking Mistake #4
Asking someone you barely know the ethnic origin of her name.
Why it's wrong: You may come off as more interested in her pedigree than in her personality. Worse, you could be suspected of prejudice or racism.
What to do instead: If you're truly interested in learning about a person's background, engage her in a conversation that may naturally lead to a discussion of her roots: "Have you always lived here in Minneapolis?" Do remember, though, that some people prefer not to share personal information. If that seems to be the case, be considerate enough to move on to other topics.
couple shaking hands with guest Mistake #5
Asking the host of the party for a tour of her house.
Why it's wrong: Unless it's a housewarming, the host has no obligation to show people around. And she may have any number of good reasons for not doing so. Maybe she's too busy in the kitchen - or maybe she used the upstairs as a catchall while tidying up before you arrived.
What to do instead: If your host doesn't offer a look-see, respect her privacy and don't ask. For the same reasons, avoid wandering past party boundaries - if a room is dark or a door is closed, take the hint.
woman on the phone preparing dinner Mistake #6
Responding to a dinner invitation with "We'd love to come! Just so you know, I'm on a low-carb diet, and Sam's a vegetarian."
Why it's wrong: A dinner guest is just that: a guest. You wouldn't try to dictate what outfit your host should wear. Well, it's equally out of line to try to dictate the menu.
What to do instead: If you're accepting a dinner invitation, there should be no strings attached - so don't stipulate dietary preferences. (A few exceptions: Do let your host know if you have religious restrictions or a serious food allergy. Say, "I'd love to go, but you should know that I'm allergic to peanuts. I'm sure there will be plenty I can eat, but I'd appreciate you letting me know if I should stay away from something.") When you get to the dinner party, you can either decline any offending foods - if they're being served family style - or eat around them on your plate. Afraid you'll starve? Then have a snack before you go.
friends toasting wine glasses Mistake #7
Asking people to come to a restaurant to celebrate your husband's birthday - but then expecting them to pay their own way.
Why it's wrong: When the fete is for a member of your immediate family, you're automatically considered the host, meaning that you will foot the bill. (After all, if your husband's party were in your home, you wouldn't ask guests to contribute at the door.)
What to do instead: Be clear with invitees about your intentions. Here's how you communicate that you're picking up the check: "I'm hosting a dinner for Stan at Jackson's Place. Can you join us as our guest?" If you can't afford to entertain a large group at that restaurant, don't ask others to contribute. Simply invite fewer people, choose a less expensive location or have the party at your home instead. If the honoree is a friend rather than a relative, then the rules are different. To communicate clearly that you're merely the organizer, not the host, say something like this: "John, you heard about Jill's promotion. What do you think about the four of us - you and Sara and Eddie and me - taking Jill and her husband to Miromar's to celebrate? If you're interested, I'd be more than happy to make the reservation." Now John knows that if he says yes, he's picking up his share of the bill.
Talking on speakerphone Mistake #8
Using a speakerphone without asking the person on the other end first.
Why it's wrong: The person you're calling may be speaking confidentially, for your ears only. Or, your conversation partner may be hard of hearing, in which case the background noise picked up by the speakerphone could make it even more difficult for him.
What to do instead: Explain up front that you'd like to put the phone on speaker and ask whether it's okay with the other person. Most people won't mind, but if you sense hesitation, explain your reasons - for example, other people in the room may need to contribute to the conversation, or you'd like to have your hands free for taking notes. Does your phone mate still seem uncomfortable? Then do respect her wishes.
Talking in front of children Mistake #9
Making comments about children - "How old is he?" or "Isn't she thin?" - in their presence.
Why it's wrong: You wouldn't talk about an adult right in front of her face, and the same courtesy should be shown to a child. All but the youngest can - and are usually more than happy to - speak for themselves.
What to do instead: Address the child directly, offering the same respect you'd expect her to show you. If your comment is about something serious (say, the kid's weight), save it for a time when you can discuss it privately with the parent or guardian. (And be sure to avoid phrasing your concern judgmentally.)
Related: Are You A Good Guest?
woman mailing a gift Mistake #10
Allowing yourself a year after the wedding to come through with a present.
Why it's wrong: The notion that there's a 12-month grace period is pure myth. A wedding gift is given to celebrate the occasion, not the first anniversary!
What to do instead: In most cases, gifts should be sent as close to the wedding date as possible. (However, in some areas and cultures, it's customary to bring gifts to the wedding ceremony and place them on a designated table at the reception.)
- by Peggy Post
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