DEAR MISS MANNERS: When giving gift cards, should you remove the card from the packaging?
I have removed the tab that shows the amount, but the packaging has information related to expiration, etc.
GENTLE READER: Are you seriously proposing sending someone out shopping without knowing how much money there is to spend?
Miss Manners appreciates the gentility of concealing the price of a present from the recipient. That is why she discourages paying people, rather than taking the trouble to select something that might be appreciated.
But do not harbor the illusion that you have laundered the money by putting it into a gift card. You have merely restricted its use. And please do not set someone up to get to the checkout counter, only to be told that it is not enough for the purchase, or even that it is too much, but the remaining amount must be supplemented in order to make an additional purchase.
Take a hint from hotels
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have some old friends who have recently retired and love to travel. Once a year they travel to our state and visit with their friends who live here. They send an email a week or two before their trip informing us when they will be in our area and ask to stay with us.
We are happy to have them stay in our home, but we are not retired. When they arrive, they plop themselves down and ask what we are going to do. We then scramble to be good hosts and escort them to local restaurants and sites of interest, fitting ourselves into their schedule on relatively short notice.
We would have no problem with their using our home as a hotel and enjoying some time with them if we were home at the same time, but it is taxing to be expected to provide vacation activities when we are not on vacation!
They repeat this pattern throughout our state, and when they arrive home, they send a blanket email to all of the people with whom they have stayed, offering their blanket thanks.
We never hear from them except when they are traveling our way or involved in fundraising for a charity they have adopted, and we are feeling ill-used. Are we too sensitive?
GENTLE READER: Or not sensitive enough. Why you are happy to have inconsiderate people use your house as a hotel baffles Miss Manners. But as you are, perhaps you should avail yourselves of the protections employed by hotels.
One would be to remain closed out of season. In your case, that would refer to your non-vacation periods, when you can say, “We’re so sorry, but this is not a good time for us,” adding, if you wish, that you would love to see them at a specified time that would be convenient for you.
Another would be to offer sightseeing and restaurant advice, as a good hotel clerk or concierge would do, while making it clear that you do not offer escorted tours. “You might enjoy this,” you could say with your recommendations. “We’re off to work, but have a good time, and let us know how it goes.”
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.
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