DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am planning a 100th birthday party for my late grandmother’s recently reconditioned piano. The guests will be other classical musicians and singers.
As usual, when we all get together and there’s a piano nearby, some people like to play or sing. I’ll engage a pianist, too. (No tip jar!) As hostess, I’ll refrain from singing unless we all get silly and, as a group, sing “Happy Birthday to Miss Wellington-Cable!”
Now I know one should never encourage or discourage gifts in an invitation for a person. But as this type of party is (hopefully) unique, I think many people may wonder whether to bring a gift for an inanimate object.
I’m leaning towards keeping to the usual “no gift mention at all” rule. However someone tells me I need to make an exception “because nobody will know what to do for a piano’s birthday!” I figure I can say something when people reply, as they usually do in the South, with, ”May I bring anything?”
Am I leaning the right way or am I “out of tune” here?
GENTLE READER: Re-examining the reasons behind etiquette is always welcome, never more so than when new situations arise.
In this case, however, the original reasoning still applies, namely that it is impolite to assume one is going to receive a present, and therefore one should not provide instructions on the point.
Miss Manners would not wish to presume that given your piano’s age, you will not be sending follow-up questions about wedding plans and baby showers.