DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother taught me not to mess with a lady's purse, but when I go to socials, I often find all of the available seats occupied by purses and coats. The ladies are chatting in the kitchen while the men are standing on sore knees in the living room.
Are these chairs reserved for the ladies whose purses occupy them? Where should the ladies properly place their coats and purses? Am I allowed to remove a purse or coat and put it in its proper place?
GENTLE READER: You gentlemen would be less uncomfortable if you stopped standing on your knees, Miss Manners would imagine. And if you understood that messing with a lady's purse means opening it, sitting on it, tossing it across the room and, in extreme cases, stealing it, but not carefully placing it out of your way, but where she will be able to find it.
Gentlemen may not appreciate the fact that there has never been a satisfactory solution to the problem of where a lady should park her purse. If she puts it on the floor, you will step on it. If she puts it on a table, you will spill your drink on it. If she keeps it on her arm, it will tire her and also hit you in the wrong place if you try to hug her.
Coats are another matter. Presumably there is a closet, or you gentlemen would have strewn your own coats on chairs. So why don't you hang up the ladies' coats? For that matter, why didn't you do so when you and the ladies arrived?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be getting married in a few months' time and have been having a hard time picking out wedding favors within our budget that will make it further than the garbage can once our guests return home.
We have allotted $1 to $2 per guest. Our gift budget does not lack as a result of money being improperly allocated; we have needed to find many ways to cut corners.
My fiance and I have thought to instead donate the money to an organization which does research on a terminal illness, to which we lost his mother a couple of years ago.
Do you think that our guests would appreciate the sentiment or be miffed that they were not given individual gifts? Would we be better off giving each guest some cookies or candies?
GENTLE READER: Who told you that you had to give out wedding favors? Etiquette has never thought of weddings as comparable to children's birthday parties, where the guests might need consolation for not being the center of attention.
Donating money for medical research is a fine idea, if you can manage it, and Miss Manners commends you. But it has nothing to do with your wedding guests. It cannot be construed as any sort of favor to them.
You owe them only the hospitality of the occasion. Drawing attention to your having considered, and then decided against, giving them little presents will not strike them as charming.