DEAR ABBY: My 13-year-old daughter, "Laurel," was given a surprise party (friends, snacks, movie -- nothing big, but a very nice gesture) in celebration of her no longer needing crutches. (Laurel had had surgery and had been on crutches for six weeks.)
At the end of the night, the host's mother handed Laurel a few gifts that friends had left for her. The cards indicated that they thought this was a birthday party. The gifts were substantial -- a Coach wristlet, $25 gift cards, etc. Her surprise party had been organized by her friend, also a 13-year-old, but apparently he failed to tell everyone who was invited that it wasn't a birthday party and there was no need for gifts.
What should Laurel do with the gifts? This is very awkward, and I'm not sure how to handle it. What is the procedure for receiving gifts for the wrong reason?
Laurel received gifts from three of the 15 guests; the party was last night and my daughter must respond to the situation ASAP -- whether it be with a thank-you note, a phone call, etc. Please help us. -- LAUREL'S MOM IN N.J.
DEAR LAUREL'S MOM: Your daughter should call the friends who gave her gifts thinking it was her birthday and thank them, but she should also offer to return the items because it wasn't her birthday and the party was not a gift-giving occasion. It's possible that Laurel will be told to just keep them, in which case a thank-you note would be in order. She should also write a gracious thank-you note to the friend who threw her the party.