Birthday Parties and Thank-You Notes, Vol. 4, Issue 31

Dear Etiquetteer:My stepfather and I are planning a surprise 60th party for my mom. My stepfather is paying for almost everything, I think I'm just paying for the decorations and cake. The party will be in Florida and so far we know there will be at least six out-of-town guests who have to fly and stay in a hotel. The party is a Saturday night at a hall.The next day I'm planning on hosting a brunch for the out-of-towners at my house, and for the afternoon/evening I think a one-hour boat tour of the island where we live would be nice. The tickets for the boat tour are $15.00 each. If I suggest we all go on the boat tour, do I have to pay for all the tickets myself, or is it possible for me to say politely that each guest pay for him or herself? Is it crazy for me to even think that I should not pay for everyone? I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't want to buy $150.00 worth of boat tickets, either. Any thoughts? Dear Partying: If you present it as an optional activity that people can choose to do or not, Etiquetteer thinks you may be excused from paying for the tickets. You could say "For those who are interested, a boat tour of the island is scheduled every day at 4:00 PM. The tickets are $15 per person, and I’m happy to reserve non-refundable tickets for anyone who might like to go. Just please let me know by [Insert Deadline Here]. You may pay me when you arrive. Otherwise we can always hang out at Dad’s."Have a great party!

Dear Etiquetteer: I recently had a baby, and gifts have been arriving by mail for the past few weeks. We received two gifts that I thought were from childhood friends of my husband. The cards were simply signed "the Blanks." My husband now informs me that these gifts were from the PARENTS of his childhood friends, who of course share the same last names.My dilemma: I have already mailed Perfectly Proper lovely notes of thanks to the offspring of the actual gift givers. Part of this gaffe is easily rectified. I will mail thank-you notes to the appropriate parties posthaste. However, the couples who will shortly be receiving notes of thanks from me will probably be quite confused as to why I am so grateful for gifts they know nothing about. And more than that, these childhood friends did not send us baby gifts and my concern is that I am highlighting that fact in a most inappropriate manner. I'm mortified!What do I do? Should I call or e-mail my husband's friends and blame this regrettable episode on "Mommy brain?" Do I camp out by my local mailbox and accost the postal carrier? I have visions of me getting arrested for fishing around inside the mailbox up the street with an unbent coat hanger. Please advise. Dear Gifted Mommy: First, let Etiquetteer congratulate you and your husband on the birth of your child. Etiquetteer wishes you all long lives of Happiness, and of course Perfect Propriety. Next, Etiquetteer thanks you for getting out those Lovely Notes so quickly. What a pity the Blanks didn’t sign their card "Boaz and Jezebel Blank," which would have eliminated any opportunity for confusion, but alas, we are not all perfect. Etiquetteer finds your concern for your friends touching – so many mothers would simply tap their feet waiting for more Glorious Tribute for their Sweet Precious Darlings. But you need not fret so much. This sort of gaffe is easily passed over with a quick e-mail or phone call. "If you haven’t gotten it already, you’ll be getting a thank-you note from me and Jehoshophat for a baby gift that we actually got from your parents! So sorry for mix-up. Please just fling it wantonly into the trash when you get it." DO NOT even for one moment reference that you haven’t received a gift from them. Only your misaddressing the thank-you note is relevant to the discussion. And if this little faux pas prompts your friends to send a gift for Baby, Etiquetteer knows you’ll acknowledge it with a doubly Lovely Note.

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