Feel Good Friday – Who Is Coming To Dinner?

by admin on October 1, 2016

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Dealing With The Obnoxious Uninvited Guest

by admin on September 29, 2016

My husband and I are throwing a huge party to celebrate the completion of our year-long DIY home renovation. We are excited to invite all of our friends and family. We are going all out and hiring a Dj, a caterer, servers, bartenders and a photographer. We are expecting approximately 100 guests.

Now for the dilemma:
I have a dear friend that is a work colleague. She is in an extremely toxic on-again/off-again relationship with a man. Of course I’ve only heard her side of the story but he has a major problem with alcohol (he has an ankle bracelet that detects if he drinks). He is out on parole after going to jail for multiple DUIs. In addition to his drinking problem he just isn’t a pleasant person in general to be around. My friend is very sweet and because of her compassionate heart and giving spirit he talks his way back into her life constantly. Everyone that knows him despises him not only for his behavior but for the pain he has caused my friend. I hope that she finds the strength to leave this relationship for good one day and live her life away from him.

Currently they are “off”, which doesn’t mean they don’t see or talk to each other. He constantly shows up at our workplace, work functions and social gatherings he isn’t invited to but finds out about through social media or friends. My friend justifies his behavior by saying that this shows he is “at least making an effort”. To me and everyone else it feels stalker-like and controlling. They frequently fight at events, regardless of their relationship status.

You probably see where this is going.  I mailed out invites to our event a few weeks back. It’s a family friendly event so I made sure to include the names of her children on the invite. It wasn’t until after I sent the invite that I realized this man could show up uninvited and unannounced at our home, get drunk, cause a scene or (God forbid) drive away from our party intoxicated.

My friend is convincing. Over the course of three years they have broken up 3 dozen times and every time she convinces me she is done with him forever. A month later they will be back together and she will sheepishly say that he has changed or had some life altering experience that is going to fix everything.

This time around they have been broken up longer than usual. I didn’t think about him when I sent the invite because I am optimistic that she really is done with him.

Even though they don’t live in the same residence, are not in a relationship and his name wasn’t on the invite, the possibility of him showing up at our event is pretty high. This concerns me for a number of reasons – mostly the safety of him, my friend and our guests – but selfishly it concerns me because I don’t want him/them to ruin our party.

My question to you is this: Is there a polite way to approach her and ask her to be discreet about her whereabouts on the night of the event because he is not welcome in our home, regardless of their relationship status on the night in question?

I don’t want to be rude but I also really don’t want him in our home. Help. 0929-16

This isn’t really about uninviting an invited guest because you have not extended an invitation to Sluggo, your friend’s on-and-off again boyfriend.   One way to address the situation is to speak to your friend about the upcoming party in the context of her invitation.   Example:   “My husband and I are looking forward to a lovely, happy party for our guests.  Did you receive YOUR invitation?  I hope YOU are coming.  I look forward to seeing YOU there.  Now that you are finished with Sluggo, there are some wonderful single guys coming who I would like to introduce you to.   You did tell me you were done with Sluggo, right?”

By her reactions you should be able to discern if she’s back with Sluggo or even thinking about it.   If she mentions the possibility of bringing Sluggo, that is the point at which you say,  “I’m sorry, we did not extend an invitation to him to attend.  This party is for close friends and family.”

I do not think you should tell her to curb her talk to or around him.    If he shows up, escort him from the property as soon as he steps onto it.   Put a few of your brawniest guy friends on alert that they may be needed as back up and have your husband approach him to say, “I’m sorry but this is an invitation only party and I do not see your name on the guest list.  I’ll have to ask you to leave immediately.  The cars are parked over here, may I escort you to your vehicle?”   If Sluggo starts even a hint of drama, have your husband take out his cell phone and say, “You have a choice.  You can either leave quietly or I will call the police.”   My guess is that Sluggo will leave.

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Mine To The Last Drop

by admin on September 28, 2016

This story always gave me a giggle as a child. My parents attended a dinner party many years ago, at K’s home. K had also invited L and M who were known for being a little bit stingy in their social circle – the type of people who never let anything go for nothing.

L and M brought two nice bottles of wine to the dinner party that night, a nice gesture and nothing unusual. Everyone had brought something – wine, flowers, chocolate etc. Due to the abundance of drinks available, by the end of the night, the party only finished half a bottle. As people left, they obviously left their cakes/wine/chocolates with K, as a hostess gift – this was what I was always taught was appropriate behavior after such an event.

L and M did not. They picked up their unopened bottle of wine from the counter as they left, and took it with them. Not surprising from them, this was kind of their thing.

The party was well and truly wrapping up when M suddenly reappeared.

Because he had forgotten the half-empty bottle of wine still on the table.

Yes, he and L had realized the first bottle of wine hadn’t been entirely finished, had turned around and driven all the way back to K’s place to reclaim their “leftovers”. I always wondered what would have happened if someone had finished the bottle after they left, but the end of the story is simply that the half-empty bottle was corked and handed to M, and this spectacular faux pas joined our family lexicon of What Not To Do. 0912-16

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Missed Invitations Because You Have A Life

by admin on September 27, 2016

I have a couple questions about event invitations and planning online. Here are two examples.

1. The reason I decided to write in. Today I logged onto Facebook, which is something I rarely do as I’m really not fond of the app. I saw I had notifications so I clicked to look and saw a party invite! The mother of an old friend who I haven’t seen for some time but have known since I was a teenager, was putting on a party for his birthday. Then with a sinking feeling I remembered that his birthday was at the beginning of the month. I thought, maybe the party for some reason is being put on later in the month. Nope. I’m seeing it 9 days after the party has passed. And the invites were only sent out online 7 days before the party. No one called, or texted, or even emailed me. They relied solely on the idea I’d see it on Facebook, and I didn’t and as a consequence I missed celebrating. Is this the norm now? Not even a call? Should I even bother to call or text him to explain?

2. In the same vein, I spent extensive time with a group of people for a month, living and working with them. When we returned to our various homes a few of them decided on a get together. They wanted to meet at an event that was local to them (I live three hours away). Many people liked up the post on Facebook and a few people had commented. I wrongly assumed that liking the post meant that they intended to go. As a result I traveled three hours, and only a few people were there and shocked I had come at all. Would you guys assume also that likes indicate participation? I should I have asked more questions?

I’d love to know what the ehellions think!  0926-16

Regarding situation #1, it is an unfortunate consequence of the social media era that people assume everyone must be on Facebook every single day.  Facebook invitations for a birthday celebration seem so, well, superficial.   When I host a significant event, I design paper invitations and mail them to my guests.  I want them to get excited about receiving mail (it’s getting so rare these days) and put the invitation on their refrigerator which a lot do.   With a mailed invitation I convey my serious intent to host the best darn  party of the year and my guests know it.

I miss a few baby and wedding showers because the hostesses send the invitations via an online guest management site like evites.com and we block those sites at the server from ever getting email to me.  (Read the privacy terms of service for these sites.  They offer free services in exchange for you divulging your friends’ real names and valid email addresses which is then “shared” with their many business “partners”.   Invasion of other people’s privacy and spam galore.)  So, I know how it feels to miss various celebrations because someone used a service I won’t see.    It gets amusing when the host assumes I received the email.  One person actually chided me for being an etiquette guru who doesn’t RSVP to their invitations.   “What invitation?”, I ask.

As for your second situation,  it may have been presumptuous on your part to equate an interest in an event with an actual RSVP to attend.   While people may like the idea of a get together, that doesn’t mean they can actually be there on the appointed date and time.

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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.

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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.

 

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How Not To Raise A Child To Become A Bratty Adult

September 20, 2016

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Vacation Cleanliness

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 […]

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