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Miss Manners: No gift necessary if you’ve been urged not to give

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the mail this morning, I received five photographs of a young child aged 2, the daughter of a relative, in various poses, with the following noninvitation:

“It has been a great year and she is growing up so fast. Thank you for all the love and support from all our family and friends. We are not having a party this year and hope to see everyone soon. Renata has been blessed with all of you in her life and really does not need anything. However, if you insist on a gift, can we suggest contributions to Renata’s 529 College Savings Fund?”

What would be the proper response to such an invitation?

GENTLE READER: “Happy birthday, Renata.”

Her parents have invited you not to insist upon paying for her education, and Miss Manners recommends that you take them up on that.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are in our early 50s. We have a friend who is in his 30s and single. Through a relationship that we won’t go into, he now has a 1-year-old daughter who stays with him from time to time.

Every time she comes into town to spend the weekend, she ends up at our house for hours on end.

We don’t have children, and really, at this point in our lives, are not good with children. We value our friendship but are becoming annoyed with this situation. Whenever I mention that we aren’t “kid people,” he laughs and says he knows his daughter is the exception.

Any way out of this without completely dissolving our friendship?

GENTLE READER: “I’m so sorry, but we just aren’t set up to have a child in the house on her own. We would love to see the two of you together or just you, of course, but I’m sure that your daughter would much rather have her father around – whom she came to see, after all.”

Miss Manners hopes that this will not only get you out of baby-sitting, but will also encourage your friend to spend more time with his daughter – or at least consider the responsibilities before having another.


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