DEAR HARRIETTE: I have received an invitation to an engagement party that's going to take place in two weeks, and I am wondering if I should bring a gift to the intended married couple. I am friendly with the bride-to-be, but I have not met the young man. I know you are supposed to bring a gift to the wedding, but do you also bring one to this event? If so, what should I bring? -- Unclear, New York
DEAR UNCLEAR: There is no set rule that says you must bring a gift to an engagement party. I think it would be a nice gesture, though. This is the official announcement of the couple's intention to marry. It is usually hosted by the bride's parents and is a way of introducing the couple to family and close friends. It is thoughtful to acknowledge this moment with a memento of some kind -- something affordable and thoughtful. Consider a small gift that represents hope for the future -- anything from a bottle of champagne and a pair of champagne glasses to an invitation to dinner with you to get to know the two of them better. A keepsake journal could be lovely as a tool the bride can use to collect memories of the wedding planning that is about to begin. Best of all could be a handwritten note that expresses your blessings to the couple for a rich and fulfilling life together.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm pretty disappointed in your answer regarding the stolen jewelry. While your advice wasn't bad for the woman who lost valuable jewelry, why in the world didn't you at least suggest the possibility that it may not have been the cleaning service? Has NO ONE else ever been in her house? Even the police haven't been able to confirm who took the jewelry. While I wouldn't have suggested this to her, it is possible that a child (or other family member) is stealing from her. Perhaps there's a drug or gambling problem. Again, I'm not saying you should throw those wild scenarios out there, but it was wrong to not even open her eyes to the possibility of someone else being guilty. Unless there was an edited part that said the cleaning people were the only ones who had ever entered her house, I think you really missed an opportunity here.
By the way, I'm not in denial about cleaning ladies either. I had one that lasted one day as housekeeper/nanny. She stole from us and didn't take care of my kids properly. It may very well be one of those ladies. But we do operate on innocent-until-proven-guilty in America, and the three of you have played judge and jury without any evidence. -- Wiser, Washington, D.C.
DEAR WISER: I cannot argue with you on this one. I should have mentioned that she could be wrong about who stole the jewelry. Presuming the cleaning lady without proof is just that -- a presumption. Further, had she owned insurance, the theft would be covered no matter what.