Miss Manners: Newlyweds will have no space for gifts
There is no polite way to say, “Save your money; they won’t have room for all that junk.”
If a guest specifically asks, you may say that the couple will be in tight living quarters or that they enjoy other activities away from home, like traveling. Miss Manners is certain that someday they will be in a different living situation, however, and at that point will want household items. In the meantime, she suggests that you clear some space in the basement.
Dear Miss Manners: How would you respond to someone who says, “Could you do something for me? Please and thank you.” They think they are being polite, and I don’t want to embarrass them or hurt their feelings.
There’s a reason that the “please” comes as the request is being made and the “thank you” comes afterward. It wards off presumption — and a foregone conclusion where none was promised.
Miss Manners is not falling for it, and neither should you. The response to it is to say in a light and teasing way, “I’m sorry. I seemed to have missed something. To what did I already agree?”
Dear Miss Manners: I’d like to give two longtime friends, as a belated wedding gift, an antique platter that I bought in the U.K. 35 years ago. (They had a family-only wedding, which is why I hadn’t fretted about not sending a gift earlier, plus I am somewhat financially limited.)
Knowing their taste, I’m sure they would like it, and it would mean a lot to me to part with something I treasure so that two people who have been kind to me could now enjoy it.
May I give it as a belated wedding gift? If not, may I give it as a “Thank you for your many kindnesses” gift? Also, is there a gracious way of saying, “Although I didn’t buy this for you, this is a meaningful gesture because I love this item”?
I don’t want to sound tacky or martyr-y, and it would genuinely make me happy to give them a little pleasure, but I’d like them to understand that I didn’t simply root out some item that I was happy to part with.
There is a difference between what you suggest and simply unloading unwanted inventory. Miss Manners suggests that you present the platter with an accompanying note that gives its history and says something charming like, “I have long treasured this antique, just as I have treasured our friendship. I thought that you and Bertram might like it as an addition to your new household as a married couple. ”
2020, by Judith Martin