DEAR MISS MANNERS: It is common in my social and workplace circles to gift bottles of wine – for hosting dinners, for celebrating birthdays, and for conveying thanks or congratulations.
My fiance does not drink at all, and I barely ever do – a cocktail now and then, but I just don’t have a taste for wine. None of these friends and colleagues have ever seen me drinking wine. I don’t make a show out of it, but I am not secretive, either; when asked, I’ll say I just don’t really like wine, and in fact don’t drink much at all. I even have a cute line that seems to be a hit: “I prefer to eat my calories instead of drink them. Now please pass the cake!”
When I receive a gifted bottle of wine, I of course thank the giver, then set it aside to discreetly regift to someone who will actually enjoy it. I know this is what I must do forever and always, and I also know the giver is simply following convention and trying to be thoughtful (even though they’re actually being a little thoughtless).
But does Miss Manners have any suggestions for ways I can prevent this gift-mismatch? These are not situations where it is appropriate to even expect a gift, so it’s not like I can send around a wish list or registry (and I know Miss Manners doesn’t like that, anyway). How can I get it into my friends’ and co-workers’ heads that I don’t like wine?
GENTLE READER: Instead of that remark about cake, you could say that you prefer your calories in chocolates. However, people seem to have forgotten that candy and flowers are equally conventional presents, and bottles of wine have come to be used as automatic admission tickets to social events. In Europe, this is considered insulting, as if the guest didn’t expect the host to provide a drinkable wine.
But as you point out, the intent is benign, and no real thinking is done. So you probably will have to keep passing those bottles on, like the proverbial Christmas fruitcake, hoping that they will eventually find appreciative throats.
Miss Manners shares your dislike of the custom, although not of wine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a bridal shower for my daughter’s friend, given by her mother. The couple is having a small destination wedding, to which we are not invited. The invitation asks for “gift cards only.”
I know there are several things that are rude in this situation, but my problem is about responding to rudeness with rudeness.
I feel that it would be a personal snub to the bride to skip the event just because it’s tacky. I’m sure that if I told my friends I was not attending for those reasons, they would look at me like I was the rude one.
GENTLE READER: And you would be. Why would you want to be rude, when you find rudeness offensive?
Miss Manners does not require you to attend this shakedown – oops, shower. You need only decline politely. It is not necessary for you to supply any reasons: just “I’m so sorry, but I won’t be able to attend,” along with your best wishes to the bride. But it is necessary to restrain yourself from broadcasting the real reason to anyone else.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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