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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Formal Graduation Announcements Really Aren't Necessary

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son is graduating high school this year. I would like to send announcements to my husband's and my aunts and uncles.

While I know an announcement is just that, announcing the graduation, there is sometimes an expectation of sending money or a gift. Many of these relatives are on a fixed income and cannot afford a gift.

I know they would want to know about my son's graduation, so I want to send them an announcement; however, I do not want them to feel obligated to send a gift. Would it be appropriate to include a note stating that gifts are not necessary?

GENTLE READER: Graduation announcements do a lot of damage, Miss Manners has observed. Although you are quite right that they are not demands for presents -- the only response required is congratulations -- recipients are hard put to think what other purpose they actually serve.

Formal announcements are made when there is an event that would be of such interest to so many people that other means of notification are impractical. So before buying the school's package of announcements, you should ask yourself how many people who would really care to know about this, such as relatives and close friends, don't already know, and how many people who don't know would much care.

As you have already said that you could write notes to the people on your list, there can't be hundreds of them. So why not just send them friendly notes, inquiring about themselves as well as mentioning the graduation? Or post the information wherever you put family news?

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Money | Etiquette & Ethics | Holidays & Celebrations