DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was invited to a dear friend's 2-year-old daughter's birthday last year, I sent a text inquiring about her daughter's interests. Based on her response and my internet research, I selected a gift for her daughter.
A week and a half before the party, all the guests received an email stating that in lieu of gifts, they would like guests to bring diapers to donate to a local charity. When I arrived at the party I told them I had brought a gift for their daughter and asked where to put it. I was scolded by the hosts and by one of the cousins for bringing a gift.
While they have good hearts and are kind people, they made me feel as if I were rude, and I felt humiliated. I wanted to show everyone our text exchange to prove that I did not ignore their request and that I bought the present prior to their email. Instead I just apologized (for buying their daughter a gift!!!!).
Yesterday I received an invitation to her daughter's third birthday with no mention of a charity, and I am wary when it comes to buying another gift. Should I just wait to see if they send out another email? Should I ask them? And what should I have said last year instead of apologizing?
GENTLE READER: This sort of thing gives good works a bad name.
Do these people imagine that because they care about people in general they are entitled to be rude to people they actually know?
No, they are not kind people. They embarrassed you, a guest, for the crime of bringing their daughter a present.
As you are apparently willing to attend another such event, Miss Manners suggests you ask your dear friend what rules she is setting. Just do not ask her for etiquette advice.