Which is it? When giving a bouquet of flowers, does the giver have to put them in a vase to complete the gift?
On a similar note, my wife says that for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries or Mother’s Day, flowers have to be delivered by a florist to count as thoughtful. I think handing someone flowers, or having them waiting in a vase on a table, also shows thought.
With all due respect to your wife, Miss Manners thinks she has some very specific and peculiar ideas about what constitutes thoughtfulness in flower giving.
Does she think that people who bring them to dinner parties should rifle through their hosts’ cabinets to find a vase? Granted, this can be an awkward task for a busy host, but certainly that is not the solution. And bringing flowers oneself is definitely more personal and thoughtful than having a florist deliver them. The accompanying note is so often mistaken for the receipt — or suspiciously composed in a stranger’s handwriting.
But Miss Manners certainly does not wish to start another argument — if only because the apology protocol would be far too complicated.
Dear Miss Manners: My daughter’s bridesmaids were preparing to throw her a bridal shower when a relative from the groom’s side offered to throw the event herself at her home. She has a rather large house, suitable for big parties, and we’ve been told she enjoys hosting such events.
Before we knew it, the bridal shower turned into a co-ed wedding shower. The hostess has now attempted to assign the female members of the bridal party items to bring: all the alcohol, garnishes/juices, games, guest favors and prizes for the game winners. The bridesmaids were shocked to learn that they were also expected to set up, decorate, serve, tear down, wash dishes, etc.
It’s not that they don’t want to help, but that they weren’t asked. There was no communication at all until two weeks prior to the party, when they all received a list of duties and supplies. And the men of the wedding party haven’t been asked to lift a finger.
The women have politely responded that they are eager to help, but they made it clear what they would be doing. They assigned themselves the roles they are willing to play for the hostess to work around. Are they right?
Impeccably so. Miss Manners concedes that this hostess could change the nature of the party, but then she does not also get to farm out the responsibilities and expenses. That these assignments were also sexist just makes them more unsavory.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.