DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son has some wonderful friends/clients who at are the tippy-top of the economic pyramid. He is invited to many events at their homes and yachts.
He doesn't bring the hostess a gift. Apparently, none of the other members of the circle bring them either. These are people of all ages from 21 to 79 -- some "new" money and some old.
Are hostess gifts not brought to such events? I will be attending one of these events, and I am not sure what I should do. Also, what would one bring to such an event? I cannot afford a $200 bottle of wine. This is very embarrassing.
GENTLE READER: It needn't be. Despite the number of people who say they were brought up "never to appear empty-handed," there are indeed circles in which this is not practiced.
It is not money that defines such people, but a sense of hospitality. While they may be pleased to receive an occasional bouquet or box of chocolates, they dislike what has come to seem like a barter system -- a contribution in exchange for a meal. The truly essential bargain between host and guest requires the guest only to respond promptly, show up on time, socialize with other guests, thank the host, write additional thanks and reciprocate.
You needn't bring anything, and a $200 bottle of wine would be ridiculous.
Your son, although apparently a regular visitor, is probably not yet in a position to reciprocate with invitations. But he can find other ways to show appreciation by training himself to be alert to what would be welcome. An offer to fix the computer problem of a host who is complaining about it, for example. Sending a book or recording that was discussed to someone who showed interest in it. Learning to crew if his friends don't have professional crews on their yachts.
A young friend who is thoughtful and eager to be helpful is a treasure that money cannot buy.