DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a female, is it inappropriate for me to give gifts of flowers to other females or to males? What about potted plants on occasions when I go over to someone’s house? Could I give a potted plant to a male as a gift, and should I casually mention that I won’t hold it against him if the plant doesn’t survive?
Do the same rules apply when giving flowers to little children? I think it would be nice to surprise a little girl with a cute bouquet for her birthday, or present a little boy or girl with a “botany project.”
Are there any colors/species that are totally inappropriate to give in any of these cases – like, say, red roses for somebody else’s husband?
GENTLE READER: You caught Miss Manners. Up until that last point, she was going to admonish you for gendering the issue. Flowers are for everyone.
Flowers were once considered to convey coded language, and there is still some symbolism in a few of them (white lilies, for example, are generally associated with funerals), but a mixed bouquet can usually get around even that.
The floral industry and reality dating shows, however, have indeed discouraged anyone from giving red roses to those who are not viable romantic interests. That would presumably include other people’s husbands. Fortunately, by your own assertion, they would not be able to take care of the flowers anyway.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Lately, I have seen able-bodied people kick the automatic door button with their foot as they go into a shop. This is disgusting, as people with special needs use this button. with their hands to enter establishments What is a nice way of telling these people that what they are doing is not fair to the people who actually need to use these buttons?
GENTLE READER: “I find that pushing the button with my elbow is more effective in making sure that I don’t spread or acquire germs.”
Alternatively, Miss Manners recommends that you take out some disinfectant and start spraying. In the current climate, it would hardly be considered rude or even noteworthy.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When sending a letter or email to someone with a hyphenated last name, what is the proper way to address the recipient? Do I use the fully hyphenated name, such as Mrs. Jones-Smith? Or just the first part (Mrs. Jones) or the last (Mrs. Smith)?
What if you are addressing the letter to a married couple? Would it be Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones-Smith, or just Mr. & Mrs. Smith?
GENTLE READER: The full hyphenated name should be used, with separate lines for each if the married couple’s names are different.
However, the owners of hyphenated names should be tolerant when it comes to mixing up the order or leaving out parts. Miss Manners suggests a compromise: that those with complicated names not complain if someone gets it wrong – in return for not being teased about how many extra names their children will have to juggle when they one day marry another hyphenated name.
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