Question: My son has been invited to a join birthday party for his friend and the cousin of his friend. We don’t know the cousin at all. Is it expected that we bring a gift for the cousin, too? My impression is that it will be a larger party. We definitely don’t want to be rude and have the cousin feel as if he’s not important.
Answer: Joint parties are very tricky when the guests aren’t well acquainted with both honorees. Emily Post is discouraging of these parties for the very reason you bring up in your question. However, you are safe to bring only a gift for the person you know. Likely both kids were able to invite their friends, so the cousin will receive his gifts from them. If you want to bring a little something for the other child, that’s always acceptable, too.
Question: It used to be that when someone came over, one of the first things I’d ask is if he or she would like something to drink. Now, though, everyone seems to arrive with a drink in hand. Do I still ask? Do I ask to take their drink, if it’s in a disposable cup?
Answer: As society becomes more casual, etiquette shifts and adapts. I think this is a good example of how something may be intended one way and interpreted in another way. It’s likely the guest means nothing negative by this action, but it may be interpreted as though what you have isn’t good enough. When we go to someone’s house, we should be going to genuinely enjoy their company. If we are mildly inconvenienced because we aren’t able to get exactly what we want at the exact time we want us (such as a preferred drink), that shouldn’t be more important to us than the person we’re visiting. If you’re the host, it’s completely fine to still offer them a drink or to say, “Can I get you something else to drink? or “I’ll be happy to take that when you’re done.”
Emily Glass started offering etiquette courses in 2015 after having a blog for a few years prior. She teaches Southern etiquette, and her goal is to help simplify etiquette to where it is easily understood, as she believes etiquette helps you feel comfortable in any situation. Classes are offered every fall and spring for students of all ages, including business etiquette courses. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get all of your etiquette questions answered! Etiquette isn’t for the elite; etiquette is for everyone.