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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Shower gift practice just a racket

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the last few years, I have become aware of a new custom in bridal showers that seems troubling: The bride lives across the country, and is coming to town for a bridal shower (or baby shower) hosted by a good friend of her mother’s.

So far, so good, right?

After all the lovely gifts are opened, she announces that she will of course be returning each and every one of them, so she doesn’t have to cart them home with her, which would be impossible. She intends to repurchase them when she returns home. There are, of course, some gifts that will have to be kept, but by and large, they all go back.

Somehow, this seems very offensive, and I’m not sure why. She sends a note and is grateful, but it all seems like such a farce.

Does Miss Manners have a solution? I admit I’m not sure how to solve this one, and I’m not even sure who is incorrect, the guest for feeling like her gift was returned, or the bride for creating the pretext of accepting the gift in the first place.

GENTLE READER: It may be a fraud as well as a farce. Salespeople in stores with bridal registries – which by now must be every commercial enterprise with the possible exception of funerary monuments – have told Miss Manners how it works.

The couple registers for all sorts of items, usually expensive ones, and returns everything for refunds. Apparently they believe that this launders their money-grab.

But even if you believe that the bride will purchase just those items she was given, it is still insulting to have sent her guests out buying. Miss Manners’ solution would be to take back the rejected item and say, “Oh, dear, no, let me save you the trouble of returning it.” You need not trouble her again.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.