DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have an online wedding registry, and 90% of the gifts I have received have been off there. The other day I received a present with no tag inside saying who it was from. I tried to check the registry, and there isn’t a name on there, either.
I am a stickler for thank-you cards. It bothers me not to be polite and say thank you, so I have been very upset that I don’t know who to thank.
It was a pretty expensive gift, and I know someone is going to be upset they don’t get a thank-you note. What should I do? My head has been spinning trying to figure this out.
GENTLE READER: Being a detective may not be in the job description of a bride, but solving problems certainly is. Miss Manners agrees that someone needs to be thanked, so it is time to get to work.
Step 1. Ask the shipper. Step 2. Due process of elimination against the guest list. Step 3. Share the problem with close family and friends, and ask if they know the giver, or if the gift itself suggests anything to them.
Each step is likely to be time-consuming and frustrating, which Miss Manners can only mitigate by allowing you a reasonable amount of additional time in which to send a charming letter that, in addition to giving thanks, recounts the research you had to do -- with humor and good will. This will excuse the tardy reply, but must not be phrased so as to imply any misdeed on the part of the sender: The shipper’s website, having no feelings (or remorse), is the intended target of your wit.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Often when I’ve visited other people’s homes for the first time (and not to stay overnight), they have offered to give me a tour of their house. It has always made me slightly uncomfortable to be shown the private areas of the home, like the host’s bedroom. I do like to be shown where the bathroom is, but otherwise, I feel like I’m invading their privacy.
We just moved into a new home. I know it is not required, but is it expected that I give first-time visitors ”the tour”? What if they ask? Moreover, our house is a bit more grand than those of most of my family and friends, so it feels a little bit like rubbing it in their faces: “Check out our giant closets,” etc.
GENTLE READER: The feeling that you don’t belong in another person’s bedroom should not be disregarded lightly. Whatever the owner’s motivation in showing it to you, the method of avoiding it, if not the consequence of seeing it, is the same: Change the subject, if possible (“You know, I would love to use the bathroom now, if I may”). Otherwise, postpone (“Perhaps later?”).
The same works for hosts: “This is not a good time. We don’t want anyone to get hurt by falling boxes.” Miss Manners recognizes the illogic of her excuse, but dares anyone to inquire further.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)