DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my husband turned 40, I threw him a surprise party to celebrate the milestone year. The event was fully paid for, including open bar, food and entertainment. Guests were not asked to bring or do anything, and they fully enjoyed the hospitality.
We had a great time, and that is what matters. However, the next day, several of my husband’s family asked if any of the guests brought him cards or gifts. One invited guest did bring a present, but the other 25 did not.
My husband and I are split on what is good manners. Should you bring cards and/or gifts to an adult’s birthday party?
GENTLE READER: Birthday presents for adults are highly optional, certainly not to be expected and never demanded. Miss Manners is relieved to say that you did everything right, including presenting the occasion as a milestone year, implying that its reoccurrence should be delayed for another 40.
Do not succumb to ideas planted by outsiders that you should have expected something in return for your hospitality, or be tempted to declare another milestone next year so that you can cash in on what your husband missed.