Cash Donations For Kid’s Birthday

by admin on September 25, 2017

The following quote is from a “mom blog” regarding the request and giving of cash instead of gifts on the occasion of a child’s birthday.   Your thoughts?

“…the invitation had something on there that I’d never seen before. It basically said that there was absolutely no need to bring gifts but that if you were so inclined, to please consider a cash donation. The reason, they said, was that they were trying to teach their son about money management. They’d take the money and divide it in half. Part would go to a charity and part would go to a toy or toys he could purchase himself.

It reminded me of the time my sister tried to get her oldest daughter behind a similar thing. My sister, considering how blessed her children were in the toy department, asked her oldest what she thought about having kids donate toys in her honor at her next birthday party. My niece had some clarifying questions but quickly figured out the bottom line: there would be no presents for her from her friends. And she burst into tears. It still makes me laugh.

OK. So I realized that the parents of my daughter’s friend had figured out how to keep their son happy while still avoiding the deluge of plastic gifts that are a hallmark of the modern-day birthday party. And I have to admit, I like the trend, too.

Like most families, we’re pressed for time. Something as simple as going to a store, picking out a gift, coming home, wrapping it, remembering we forgot to get a card, going to get a card, and filling out that card, can send us over the edge. It’s one thing if you’re really good at gift-giving. But mostly birthday parties are about the fun times you have together anyway.

This was the easiest preparation for a birthday ever. I’d been out of town all week. My husband picked up a card at the CVS. We stuck a $10 bill in there and had the kids write their names in it. Voila. Done. Everyone’s happy.

So is there any way we can get this trend to continue? I want all my kids’ friends to ask for cash at their next birthday party. Heck, even if they don’t, I think cash is the way I’m going. Let the parents pick out their own toys. Let the parents buy a couple of beers, what do I care?

But if you do it like our friend did, you help the child learn the value of money and you save everyone else a heck of a lot of time.”

My thoughts are that it is usually poor etiquette to tell guests what type of gift is expected.  And anytime you start monetizing the gift giving, the temptation is to view them as moneymaking endeavors rather than celebration of life milestones.


The Louisville Leopard Percussionists is a non-profit organization offering extracurricular music opportunities to local children at little or no cost.


Since I am a frequent visitor to your site, I know I need a polite spine for this situation (often a struggle for me, I’ll admit). My uncertainty comes from when and how to address issues pertaining to a guest who will be moving into my home.

My friend, Beth, is a lovely person. She is warm and generous and very outgoing. She loves to plan get-togethers with friends, and spends most of her spare time and money traveling the world. I very much enjoy her company, but it is usually in small doses.

Several months ago, Beth decided she was not contented with her life here and decided to move across the country. Since I had a large vehicle at the time, she asked for my help with moving furniture and packing boxes for storage. She sold most of her minor possessions in preparation for her move. After a short time, she realized that this new town did not agree with her at all. She was incredibly unhappy, and was unable to find reasonable employment. She decided once again to move to another city, halfway back across the country again. Another month goes by and she still has no job and no prospects and has depleted her savings. I spent many hours talking with her over skype or texting, listening to her situation and giving what little advice I could. I was also going through a very difficult time, having recently left an abusive marriage, but in a way I found helping Beth made me forget about my own problems.

This week I got a message from Beth, giving me the details, and saying that she has no choice but to come back. Stories from Beth are always full of grand detail and embellishment, and she painted a grim picture of how desperate things are for her – no home, no savings, nowhere to turn. I felt the pressure. I told her that if she needed a place to stay until she got back on her feet, I wouldn’t see her stuck. She was incredibly grateful, and I’m happy to help a friend in need.

My issue is this: In the few months since Beth’s departure, the economy here has taken a downturn. People are losing their jobs, and the cost of living has risen. I am currently in the process of finalizing my divorce and it has been messy and stressful. While I live alone some of the time, I also have joint custody of my young children. I have a house, and a job, but with the economic downturn I will be counting my pennies as well. When I thought Beth’s stay here would be just for a week or two it was fine. Since she has no job and no savings, I have no idea how long Beth will need a place to stay. While I’m happy to help a friend in need, I am not looking for a roommate.

I am also unsure how etiquette demands I handle my personal schedule. If I am invited out by a friend, am I required to invite Beth along? Or if I have someone over to visit, is it rude to ask for privacy? Cooking meals is another worry, as I’m not sure if I’m required to cook for Beth (she is a very picky eater, and has some dietary restrictions as well). Beth also has two cats, who will be moving in with her. I love cats, but I’m not sure how this will work out in my small home. Is it best to address these things if and when they arise, or should I be upfront with Beth before they become a problem? Help! 0417-16

Don’t be  doormat.   Establish the boundaries upfront and be firm because if you are not, you could have a permanent house guest who contributes little to nothing to the operation of your home.   Your offer of hospitality should have limits and if she has not found a job in a month, she needs to make arrangements to move elsewhere because you are not a welfare office.

You cook for Beth?  How about Beth cooks and cleans the house as a condition of her staying there?   Why on earth do you think you need to feed her like one of your kids?  She’s an adult woman who can feed herself.   Do not cook for her, do not clean for her.   Her cats need to be restricted to her room only and the kitty litter box routinely cleaned.   You do not want to create an environment where Beth has little or no incentive to leave.    If she gets a room, board for her cats, free food, the house cleaned after her AND a free social life, why would she want  to go back to having to work hard for everything she has?


From the Emory Wheel:

Diamonds may be forever, but a bigger diamond doesn’t necessarily mean a longer marriage, according to study conducted by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, both associate professors of Economics at Emory.

The results of their study indicated that spending more money on weddings and engagement rings negatively correlated with marriage duration, meaning that people who spend more on their weddings tended to have shorter marriages. The study, titled “‘A Diamond Is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration,” was published in early September and has since been featured on CNN, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and 11 Alive.

In the study, they surveyed over 3,000 adults in the U.S. who either are married or have been married at some point in their lives.

The questionnaire gathered details such as marriage duration, length of time dating, honeymoon, engagement ring expenses, wedding attendance, total wedding expenses and age at marriage.

Francis and Mialon argue that the wedding industry is to blame for fueling the notion that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and the wedding leads to a successful, committed marriage.   To read the rest of the Emory Wheel article, click HERE.

Guys: Investing between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate between $500 and $2,000.

For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding ups the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.

While the study results are correlational rather than causal, it’s still an interesting topic to discuss.


Do You Have The Right To Be Offended?

by admin on September 18, 2017

One Daniell Rider thinks she does. In a post to craft store Hobby Lobby’s Facebook page, Rider posted the photo below and demanded that the decor item of dried cotton bolls be removed for sale citing that :

This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves.

A little sensitivity goes a long way.



The obvious problem is that no slave harvested these dried cotton decor items and the second obvious problem is that Daniell Rider likely wears a considerable amount of cotton.   The third problem is that African American slaves worked on plantations growing and processing rice, tobacco, and sugar cane, none of which we boycott or deprive ourselves of simply because 150 years ago it was grown and harvested at the expense of slaves.

So, the question, “Do you have the right to be offended?”, could be answered by stating that, yes, you have a general right to be offended on your own behalf.   Etiquette, in general, does not give grace to be offended on the behalf of others who may not share your level of offense in their name.    But others also have the right to not take your offense seriously and dismiss the offense as nothing more than either a power play or expressions of heightened entitlement to be continuously put out of joint over issues that aren’t really issues.





Prayer Before Eating

by admin on September 18, 2017

While visiting my 81-year-old father, he extended an invitation for us to go to dinner, and he requested that I invite 2 other parties (family friends). My father typically extends this invitation when we are all together, and he always insists on paying the bill.

At the Mexican restaurant, we chatted and munched on tortilla chips and salsa. Before the entrees were served, Guest One (a family friend) announced, “Would ya’ll mind if we said grace?” She said that her husband would lead the prayer. I was caught off guard, and I felt more awkward when she announced that we should join hands. (I don’t want to touch someone else’s hands after I’ve already started to eat. Yuck!)

I’m not sure of the religious affiliation of Guest Two sitting to my left, but she seemed a little uncomfortable as well. Regardless, we joined hands and the husband said the prayer. I have no idea what he said because I wasn’t tuned in. My feelings of discomfort, being put on the spot by a guest in a public restaurant, completely soured me. My daughter and I just stared at each other across the table until we were permitted to commence eating our meal with the “Amen”.

My father wasn’t actively tuned in simply because he doesn’t hear well, and he often lags behind any conversation. The saying of grace was NOT a practiced ritual in our home growing up. I will also add that Guest One and her husband know that I am not religious. During a previous conversation, I explained to them that I did appreciate the kindness they’ve shown my parents, but that I did not believe what they believe. So this expectation of joining them in the saying of grace is even more bizarre.

This is not the first time that I’ve been expected to either participate in saying grace or delay eating while other guests say grace in a public restaurant. When dining out, my sister who is Christian, will instruct me to wait to eat because her 10-year-old son is going to say grace. Another awkward situation because now I don’t want to disappoint a child by not complying. So my nephew meanders through a prayer which usually has nothing to do with being thankful for the meal.

As a guest in someone’s home, I am always respectful of the host’s desire to say grace. I will sit quietly, but would prefer not to hold someone else’s hand right before I eat. But I comply simply because I don’t know how to politely reject taking someone’s hand.

My questions are:
“How do you decline involvement in the saying of grace and holding hands when at a public event?”
“If you don’t participate in the prayer, but just sit quietly, do the folks are either side reach over you to hold hands?”
“What is the expectation of religious people when they insist that others follow their personal rituals, specifically public prayer? For the religious, isn’t it slightly bothersome that friends/guests are complying only because they’re put on the spot and stuck in an awkward situation?”

I feel like this expectation is inappropriate and even bully-ish to a certain degree. Being religious isn’t a free ticket to be ill-mannered, but it often seems that way.

All perspectives are appreciated. Thank you. 1227-15

The answers to your questions boil down to issues regarding who is hosting the event more so than issues of religion.   For example, if your father is the one who invites people to join him for dinner and he’s paying for it,  as the host he has privilege of leading his guests in a food blessing or not.  I think the friends of the family usurped his role as host and made an executive decision for all the guests when they should have quietly said grace for their own food and left it at that.

How do you decline involvement?   You sit up straight, fold your hands in your lap and wait for the host to commence eating.   The host/hostess sets the schedule for when to eat by eating first.  That is the guests’ cue that they can now chow down, too.  And if your ind host has chosen to pray along with someone else, you still follow your host’s cues and wait to eat because to begin eating before your host does is rude.    If your host routinely says grace prior to eating, I think you need to respect that if you have accepted the offer of hospitality.

Regarding Christians, I am not aware of any magical advantage to making a circle connection via touching in order to pray over food and Christians who believe there is are simply wrong.    It’s not like the prayer/blessing is flawed or invalid if the diners are not physically touching.   I pray over my food more often than not but I’m not legalistic about it.   My food is not going to rot in my belly or fail to nourish me if I choose to not say a prayer and I certainly don’t feel the need to touch people in the process.   To be honest,   I don’t think 99.5% of Christian will think twice about someone who chooses to not pray or touch.


Feel Good Friday – The Present

September 15, 2017

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Inheritance Hell Doesn’t Have To End Hellishly

September 14, 2017

A few months ago a reader messaged me asking why there were so few stories on Ehell about probate of Wills and inheritance.  This person made the observation, which I agree with, that inheritances and probate of the Will seems to be far more fraught with drama than even weddings. I don’t have a reason […]

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