Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our cardiology group practice is planning a holiday party for our employees. The proposal is to have a DJ and dance floor. However, the employees’ spouses are not invited.

It seems wrong to me to encourage dancing among co-workers without their spouses present. Am I just old-fashioned? Is this common? I have never been invited to a party with dancing without including spouses.

GENTLE READER: Old-fashioned? Or not paying attention to what is going on in the world right now?

At any time, it would be inhospitable to have an after-hours party -- Miss Manners assumes that you do not plan to dance in the emergency room during the lunch hour -- without inviting spouses and partners. In a period of super-awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, it would be reckless and foolhardy.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been under the impression that it is considered in bad taste to bring one’s own infant along when attending a baby shower as a guest, as attention would be diverted from the guest of honor to the infant. I have no problem with that and, frankly, look forward to a little time with only adults.

But what about “gender reveal” parties? I’m not a fan of these parties as a whole, but my close friend is hosting one, so I will attend in support of her growing family. Should I bring my own baby along, or leave him with his grandparents for a few hours?

GENTLE READER: As the friends of expectant mothers may be likely to be young mothers themselves, there is no reason that Miss Manners can see for a general rule banning babies from either showers or gender reveal parties (and she agrees with you about the silliness of the latter). Surely the hostess and guest of honor should decide, keeping in mind whether the guests would be happier not having to find babysitters or getting away for an adult party.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother-in-law lives alone. Each year since her first grandchild was born, she has sent out holiday cards with photos of the children. They go to her friends, colleagues and clients, most of whom we don’t know.

She did not consult me or my sister-in-law on this, and I found it odd to receive a card in the mail with a photo of my child on it. Shouldn’t holiday cards represent the people who live in your household?

I would note that I doubt I will take this up with her, as I don’t wish to make things unpleasant, but I would appreciate an etiquette ruling all the same.

GENTLE READER: Etiquette rules are based on moral considerations, one of which is kindness. Therefore, a rule forbidding a grandmother to send out cards picturing her grandchildren is inconceivable to Miss Manners.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When you receive an invitation to a birthday party and it states that dinner will be $25, are you obligated to buy a gift?

GENTLE READER: As a sponsor of this event, you are one of the hosts. If you want to give yourself a present, Miss Manners has no objection.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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