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Miss Manners: Thank you gift makes club member feel like an employee

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in charge of our duplicate bridge group: making annual schedules, scoring the score sheets, planning the annual luncheon, distributing prizes, etc. At the luncheon for the two years I have been in charge, the ladies have given me a gift.

The first year, it was a thank-you card with a gift card to a restaurant enclosed. The second year, it was a thank-you card with cash enclosed.

These gifts make me feel more like an employee than a peer. In part, this is because I play bridge with many of these ladies at a country club once a week, and at Christmas, they give a Christmas card with cash enclosed to the lady who waits on us.

Am I wrong to feel that way? I am happy to do the tasks and do not think a gift is warranted.

GENTLE READER: The challenge is in how to convey your feelings without offense to people who likely meant to express gratitude, not servitude.

Miss Manners recommends explaining to the group that while you appreciate the sentiment, you do it for the love of the game and do not expect anything in return. The criticism will be both heightened and softened when you then break out the bridge supplies you have purchased for the group with the cash.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I throw a lot of dinner parties. When guests walk in, I always offer them a beverage, and make sure that a bottle of wine is always open throughout the night.

I never pour anyone a second drink. Some people are driving, some people are breastfeeding, some people might only want one glass of wine. I personally do not like to be asked repeatedly if I want more wine or have someone top off my glass if I do not want any more.

I thought this was fine, but the other night, a friend made a comment about it.

GENTLE READER: One should not refill a glass without permission, but serving is part of the function of a host.

Miss Manners has good news, however: A private party is not a restaurant. The pace of refill offers need not exactly keep pace with the level of each glass and can taper off as the evening progresses. The person who is breastfeeding for the first offer (though not, perhaps, just at the moment) can be assumed to be doing so for the rest of the evening, as can the guest who declines for other reasons, medical or not.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: The bride is insisting on men’s wearing tuxes to a daytime wedding, even those not in the wedding party.

Being a good guest is the most important thing to us. Does this mean we guests should follow her wishes? If some of us cannot afford the rental, should we simply decline the invitation, or could we properly wear a suit?

GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners does not give anyone license to misbehave, in the hierarchy of hospitality, being a good host is an even sterner duty than being a good guest.

The hostess – and by extension, the bride, even if she is not technically the hostess – is expected to concern herself about the feelings of the guests, accepting in return their presence, good wishes and good behavior. A dark suit is acceptable at black-tie events, and also at functions where black-tie would be inappropriate – such as daytime weddings.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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