Q: I have a social media account I rarely use. Lately I have been told that I was invited via social media to graduation parties and an open house.
I feel that if the occasion did not warrant a paper invitation, it does not warrant my response, attendance or cash. Am I too old-fashioned? And frankly, I did not actually see two of the three invitations in time.
A: Well, then how could you have possibly answered?
Miss Manners agrees that an invitation that is more likely to warrant “likes” than actual responses is not an invitation that you need to take seriously. If the hosts cannot be bothered to narrow down their list, then they should not be insulted when guests do not respond, much less bring gifts or attend.
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Q: Is it rude or inconsiderate to purchase a gift for someone that you can also enjoy, for example, a spa day or a manicure for two? I would love to purchase this for my sister, but I’m afraid it will come off as a gift for me, too.
A: Well, it is, but it is also a gift of your company which, depending on the current state of your relationship, your sister will either see as endearing or as a burden. As you are the one paying for it, you can hardly be faulted for wanting to enjoy both the rewards of the gift and the benefits of being with her. Miss Manners hopes that you will, at least outwardly, express more enthusiasm for the latter.
Q: My husband and I were invited to dinner. When we asked what we could bring, the wife said “dessert.” That’s fine; I’m a good cook and like to make desserts. Then her husband got on the line and asked us to pick up a pineapple cheesecake from a specific store.
I was really put off. I hate pineapple in desserts, and I find it insulting that he was telling us to go buy something. Now I don’t even want to go — he’ll probably express disappointment at anything I make, and I feel under pressure to fix something amazing.
Should I just pick up his stupid cheesecake or what? To be honest, I’m tempted to fix him something with a load of jalapenos in it.
A: Wouldn’t this all have been avoidable if only you hadn’t asked?
Miss Manners understands that this question of what to bring to a dinner party is now considered obligatory. In fact, it is not. If only she could get the world to understand that an invitation to dine does not — and should not — require an immediate demand of what is needed.
Presumably the host should have already thought of that and prepared it. That is what hosting means. A token present (flowers, chocolates) at the time of the party is nice, but a letter of thanks and reciprocal invitation are the only things truly expected — and usually welcomed — in return.
However, if you are going to ask what to bring, you cannot then be insulted by the response. What (from your point of view) started as merely a polite offer has suddenly turned into a scheme to light people’s mouths on fire. Mostly innocent people, Miss Manners might add. Better never to have asked. But you did, so bring the cheesecake.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.