Memorial Gifts For Grieving Dad

by admin on September 22, 2016

This situation doesn’t directly involve me, but I’m still curious as to the etiquette.

My boyfriend is a welder and he has recently begun to create and sell customized metal plates with designs welded on. He is marketing them through Instagram. He has gotten orders for all sorts of designs, from Celtic crosses to business logos to butterflies. However, a recent order has me a bit boggled.

A lot of the welders on Instagram all like to talk with each other and know about each other’s lives, even though they are in totally different states or even countries. A welder who has ordered from Boyfriend before placed an order for a custom plate that will serve as a memorial to a baby who tragically passed away a month ago. The strange part is that the man who placed the order is not related to the baby. He is ordering it as a “surprise gift” for the Grieving Dad, who is also a welder and part of the Instagram welding community. He didn’t have a specific design in mind, and pretty much just told Boyfriend the situation and the name of the baby.

So now it is up to Boyfriend to create an appropriate image to memorialize this baby, whom he never met, at the request of someone else who never met the baby either (to my knowledge).

I think that this is a rather inappropriate situation. Grieving Dad is likely to want to memorialize his baby in his own way. There may be certain motifs, symbols, or details that would ideally be placed on a memorial plaque to remind the parents of their baby but will now be left out, because Boyfriend doesn’t know anything else about the baby besides her name. Not to mention that it sounds like Grieving Dad shared the information about his baby to a few close Instagram welder friends, and spreading it around the community seems a bit uncouth to me.

Boyfriend has already committed to making the plate, but I would just like to know what etiquette rules have to say about ordering personalized memorial gifts for people without them asking or giving indication that they want one. Am I overthinking it? 0916-16

Yes, you are overthinking it.    This is a business transaction between your boyfriend and a buyer.   While the buyer may be wrong in his choice of gift,  it isn’t within the seller’s sphere of responsibility to examine the motivations and relationships of the people buying his products.   Hopefully Grieving Dad will recognize the thought behind the gift.    Your boyfriend needs to create the plate as requested, receive payment, send it to the buyer and think more of it since the plate is not his gift to give.


A friend of mine, J, has recently become engaged to her partner.

I previously worked as J’s personal assistant. She is a wheelchair user and hired me to help with tasks like washing up and laundry, which involved standing for prolonged periods. At the time, J was very clear; she wanted a very firm line between employee time and friend time, and it was very important to her that she pay me or other PAs for the hours worked.

I stopped working for J several years ago. I am also friends with her fiancé, who introduced us.

Shortly after announcing her engagement, J sent me a text asking if I’d be up for taking an hour or two to help her with the catering at the wedding. They’re planning a two-day extravaganza.

Puzzled, I asked if she and her fiancé were doing most of it by themselves. She told me that they weren’t; they’d hired professional caterers for the first day, but planned to be ‘entirely self-catering’ for day two. They have one friend coordinating, and they’ve asked everyone to pitch in and help. She also mentioned that her fiancé, who struggles with anxiety, finds catering relaxing, as it takes the pressure away from social events, and she had hoped that I’d find it similarly soothing.

While J and her fiancé are lovely people, I’m really surprised that they’d decide to throw a bigger wedding than they can afford and ask people to fill in as staff. I’m particularly surprised considering her views on PAs. I’d think of it as the same issue; if I’m a guest, I’m a guest. If I’m staff, I’m staff. I’m much happier with those restrictions than with blurred lines! I also don’t feel it’s appropriate to ask for help rather than to wait for it to be offered.

Finally, while my partner and I are invited to both days of Wedfest, some people are invited only to the wedding or only to one day of the event.

I’ve declined to help, on the grounds that I’d struggle with the distinction between staff and guest, and citing how much I agreed with her firm line between PA time and friend time, especially since she was describing doing something for her and her fiancé, not with them. I’ve not heard from her since – two months now – though we do regularly have periods where we don’t communicate frequently.

Ehellions, what would you recommend here? Was I too harsh? How would you bring this up? Would you at all? 1127-15

I’ve found over the years that situations such as this are the result of brides having an unrealistic expectation that their friends are there to serve at the wedding…as if their friends owe them and have a duty to make the wedding exceptional.   It’s an epiphany moment when you realize that your value to the bride isn’t for the friendship but rather the commodity of labor you can bring to the wedding.   You can offer your labor as a gift but that kind of gift, a very expensive one btw, is given at the initiative of the giver.  No bride on the planet should ever presume to believe she is owed this gift or worse, actually asks for it as if she expects it to be given to her.



How Not To Raise A Child To Become A Bratty Adult

by admin on September 20, 2016


Vacation Cleanliness

by admin on September 19, 2016

We just got home from a week long vacation and I wanted to get this story down while it was still fresh.

My husband, daughter and I spent a week with his best friend and his family.  In total, there were four adults, two girls just under two years old, and a newborn.  We’ll call the other couple John and Hillary, and their daughters, Katie and Lily.  We were staying at a condo that belongs to someone John and Hillary know.  It was a fun, but exhausting, trip and I’m glad to be back in my own home with just my child to look after.  The kids got along with minimal toddler fights, which was nice.

My problem is with how they looked after Katie.  Every time she was given something to eat, she was essentially unattended. This resulted in food being left practically everywhere.  Half eaten doughnuts, cookies left on the floor, silverware in random places, crackers thrown from the bag, you name it, she probably dropped it somewhere and just left it.  This in itself was irritating me because of how wasteful it was and all the crumbs everywhere.  I don’t let my own daughter wander around with food because who knows where she’ll leave it, and especially not when we’re not in our own home.  However, John and Hillary just let Katie do her thing with no regard to the mess she was creating.  I spent a good portion of the week cleaning up after her because seeing cookies ground up on the rug was driving me crazy.  My own daughter was even picking food up and bringing it to me or my husband  to throw away.  I made a few attempts to comment about it and say things like, “Hey Katie, let’s not throw food on the floor, please,” or, “Is she going to eat this?” to casually point out the mess.  They didn’t get the hint.  I swept the floors a few times and kept tidying up toys and kitchen supplies because I wanted to make at least a small effort to keep the place clean. It made it easier to keep track of belongings so something didn’t get lost.  I watched Katie’s dinner plate the last night to see how long it would take to be cleaned up.  Three hours later, I took care of it myself.  I am by no means a neat freak, my daughter is also a toddler and makes plenty of her own messes.  I just feel like maybe our friends should have shown at least a smidgen of concern for the tornado that is their daughter.  (Though the number of times I threw out THEIR random trash is also alarming.) I’m well aware they have a newborn to also take care of now, but these habits don’t happen overnight.

Am I wrong to be annoyed and frustrated at this?  Should I have just said, “Hey, your kid keeps leaving food on the floor and that’s gross”?  I feel like when you’re staying outside of your own home, you should make an extra effort to be tidy, even if a housekeeper will be coming in behind you.   0918-16


Feel Good Friday – Player Two

by admin on September 16, 2016

Player Two from John Wikstrom on Vimeo.


Forced Mingling At Social Functions

by admin on September 15, 2016

I’d like to know what EHell thinks about forced mingling.

Years ago, when our kids were small, my husband and I attended a family reunion that was held in a large dining hall. The four of us (me, husband, two little girls) were sitting with his family and chatting happily, waiting for the dinner to be served. Suddenly, the hostess stood up and announced merrily “Don’t get too comfy, folks! We’re going to mix it up a little so that you’re not all talking to the same people you can talk to any other day.” She then proceeded to lay out the “rules”. I don’t remember the specifics, but they involved getting up and moving two chairs to the left, or something.

My husband and I eyed each other in dismay, and I said, “That’s not going to happen. If we suddenly get up and leave our kids, they’ll get scared and start to cry.” So, we stayed put. Along came the hostess and, wagging her finger at us, she said, “Now now, you two! Didn’t you hear the rules? Time to move!” We said, politely, “Sorry, but that won’t be possible. Our daughters will get upset.” Hostess looked very put out, but she didn’t insist, fortunately.

That brings us to today. My department recently moved to a new building, and someone just sent out a lunch invitation. As soon as I read the words, “In order to ensure folks don’t just mingle with the people they already know, there will be two sets of randomized groupings”, my heart sank. I’m an introvert, and even if I weren’t, I absolutely hate someone treating me like a child and saying “Go sit over there and make friends.” 0909-16

In etiquette, it is perfectly acceptable for the host/ess to arrange seating around the table where married couples are separated in order to facilitate conversation.  When attending a dinner party, for example, the host is the conversational gatekeeper introducing guests to each other and getting topics started that may be of mutual interest to newly introduced guests.   I recently hosted a “mystery mixer” organized by my church where guests do not know who the host or other guests are.   I seated couples in such a way around the table where they were opposite their spouse/date but not seated directly next to them.   That way there is no “pocket” of conversation between two people like a husband and wife but rather everyone is encouraged to engage in talking with everyone.   We had a great time!  Lots of laughter!

In my opinion, being an introvert is not a good reason to be excused from the obligations one has as a guest.  When invited to a dinner party, guests do not get a pass to limit their social interactions to only immediate friends or family but should make an effort to introduce oneself and contribute to the discussions.   One of my adult daughters is very introverted and she has developed a strategy for talking with strangers. She realizes that people love to talk about themselves so she asks questions that uses that bit of human nature to her advantage.   “Are you from here?”   “Do you have family nearby?”


The Treadmill Point of View

September 13, 2016

Ms. Jeanne, First I want to say I’ve been reading the etiquette hell site for years and thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I feel the tidbits from it have made me a better member of society. Now for my story and question. I moved to a large metropolitan area around six months ago and find […]

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The Case of The Missing Brunch

September 12, 2016

Recently, an acquaintance and her family moved back to our area after living in a different part of the country for several years. We were not particularly close when we had attended graduate school together, but we were friendly, and once she and her family moved back, we invited them over for dinner. I prepared […]

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