When You’re In The Trenches

I’ve had several mommas reach out to me feeling overwhelmed. They want to eat dinner as a family at the table every night. They have every intention of teaching their babies to say “please” and thank you.” They know thank you notes are a kind gesture. It’s the implementation of it all that makes them feel like it’s not doable.

I know. I have felt (and still feel in many cases) like it’s not attainable – that my family will not be like the Cleavers. Laundry goes unfolded many days; we have eat-in-front-of-the-tv nights like that vast majority of Americans; I forget to send thank you notes (have I mentioned that’s my etiquette flaw…ahem). Anyhow, it’s all okay, and it’s all going to continue to be okay.

We’re not perfect, and try as we might, we never will be perfect. And it still will be okay.

Instead of giving up, I hope you find encourgement in this post. Give yourself grace. Instead of continuing to think about whatever it was that you missed (a thank you note, dinner for a new mom, etc.), let it completely go. We can start again right now. We don’t even have to wait until tomorrow. 🙂

Something that truly helps me is to make a list. A to do list, a to buy list – whatever is needed. Getting it on paper helps me prioritize what needs to be done. To help me with gifts for showers or birthdays, I try to buy ahead. This is most helpful with hostess gifts, as I tend to give similar items. These are also items I personally love and would use. If I’m hosting my own party, the cocktail napkins I have in my stash come in handy.

For my kids, they learn best by example. In theory I’d love to go over the history of tea with them, but to be honest, they just wouldn’t be into it beyond an American Girl tea party. Repetitition is what helps them learn with etiquette. Instead of expecting them to know when to say thank you in public, make it a habit at home.

In most cases with etiquette, the saying “better late than never” holds true. I’d much rather receive a belated thank you note and know the recipient got the gift than to never receive one because they thought it was too late. I find people have more grace for us than we have for ourselves.

What tips would you add?

Thank you for reading!

 

Re-gifting Etiquette

Happy New Year’s Eve (and 7th day of Christmas)! By now you may have sorted through the myriad of gifts you received. Some you may care for more than others. So, what is a good Southern Belle to do with the gifts she doesn’t exactly care for? I’m glad you asked, and I’m here to help.

First and foremost, regardless of how much you like a gift, it is worthy of a thank you note. Yes, I know that traditional etiquette says that if you thanked the gift giver in person, you are exempt from having to write a note. That’s just not commonly practiced in the South. Here, if you receive something, you send a note UNLESS the gift itself was a thank you gift.

Secondly, you are free to re-gift, provided a few rules are followed. When you are re-gifting, you should carefully considering to whom you will give the gift. You don’t want the future recipient to be put in a position of re-gifting it yet again. Try your best to make sure it will be appreciated by its future owner. If you can’t think of anyone who would want/like the gift, return it if you know where it was purchased. If not, donate it to a good cause.

When re-gifting, try your absolute best to make sure the original gifter does not find out about said re-gift. It was undoubtedly hurt his or her feelings. For example, if it was given to you by your mom, do not re-gift it to your brother.

For this rule, I speak from personal experience: Do not re-gift in the same bag you received the item in unless you’ve double-checked for name tags that could be a dead giveaway to the item being a re-gift.

Now for an aside: My car stays a wreck. I don’t know why. I feel like I continuously clean it out, but with two kids, stuff keeps getting shoved back in. I’m also in several clubs and organizations, so I have notes, minutes, etc. floating around always. This year, I gave my sister-in-law a gift I purchased for her. Read – not a re-gift. Anyhow, I’m pretty sure one of my Dial Study Club thank you notes somehow made its way into the bag, so she likely thought it was a re-gift. This is why I prefer to use wrapping paper. It’s much harder for inanimate objects to work its way into that.

Ok, back to the actual story. Regarding name tags – making sure bags are clear of old name tags is a good rule of thumb, even if the actual gift is not a re-gift. I cannot bring myself to throw out perfectly good gift bags that were briefly used. I cannot tell you the last time I re-gifted anything, but I CAN tell you it’s difficult when a bag says it’s to both my aunt and my mom. Mommy brain.

There you have it! A few, simple re-gifting guidelines to consider when sending gifts to a new home.

Note: My friend, Kayla Price Mitchell, who has the blog At Home With Kayla Price, and I both had similar blogging stories. I’ve linked hers here for you to check out, as well! Great minds. 😉

 

Baby Showers Vs. Baby Gifts

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A trend I’ve noticed is that people are willing to appreciate etiquette when it doesn’t interfere with their receiving of gifts. So, when it comes to having a second child, their appreciation of etiquette wanes. Ahh, to have or to not have. That is the question. Allow me to answer.

Truly, a shower for any child other than your first is inappropriate. “But every child should be celebrated.” Yes, they should. A common falsehood is that showers are for the child. They’re not. They’re for the parents, most often the mother in particular.

However, I recognize that people, for some reason, have stopped giving gifts unless there is a specific occasion to which one would bring a gift. This is beyond me, but at least I’ve found (humor me here) the root cause of second baby showers.

Normally I play nice. I try to allow for more gray areas than most. Showers are to “shower” the parents with attention and affection. You have them for the first major life change: i.e. a marriage (first time only here, people), becoming a parent (again, first time only). Even then, you are not entitled to being the guest of honor of any occasion at all. Hopefully, you have some sweet friends who are excited for you, though.

Yes, I realize that people now have divorce registries, but we’re trying to fight the good fight against entitled tackiness.

We’ve previously gone over appropriate occasions instead of a shower (sip and see, etc.), so I won’t rehash those here. Instead, allow me to drive a single point home: It is COMPLETELY APPROPRIATE to get people gifts FOR ANY REASON AT ALL. Honestly. If they’re having a second child, by all means, grab a sweet book and some diapers for the baby. If someone is simply having a bad day at work, feel free to bring them a cookie. Snickernoodle, preferably. My point is, a specific gathering does NOT need to happen to “allow” you to get someone a gift.

Maybe if this thought can penetrate peoples’ brains, we can finally rid ourselves of the subsequent baby and wedding showers…

Photo Credit: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/baby-child/baby-shower-ideas-and-gifts

Deciding On the Best Gift

Whether it is for a birthday party or a shower, deciding on the best gift can be a difficult task.

For me, personally, I got into a gift rut. I started relying on the same ol’ standbys, not tailoring each gift to a person or occasion. While it is good for me to have a gift stash, it is not something I need to rely on as a one-size-fits-all supply. Simply put, don’t give someone a gift they would neither like nor enjoy just because you have it. I use my gift stockpile as a way to acquire good gifts at a discount. Every time I go to Ross or TJ Maxx and there are cocktail napkins, I get them. What makes a good gift? Ask yourself if it is (1) something you’d like to receive and/or (2) is it something the recipient would like to receive. That’s it. Don’t worry too much about “rules” about what is a proper dinner party gift, etc.

When it comes to registries, the choice is yours on whether or not to go by it. It was, for a time, considered in poor taste to have a registry. Essentially, the registrant is telling people what to get. However, on the flip side of the coin, it can also be seen as one less worry for the gift buyer. I’d recommend looking over the registry. If nothings strikes your interest, get something you think the recipient would love.

One more note about registries: I’ve seen this start to make its way into other areas. Baby registries and wedding registries for a first wedding are both very acceptable now. Let me be the first to warn you, fair or not, wedding registries for subsequent weddings (even if it’s the first wedding for either the groom or bride) are considered crass. Also, please don’t register for housewarming gifts….I don’t even know where to begin on this one. In a nutshell, if people want to get you a gift, they will, regardless of whether or not you register.

Coming up: Gift suggestions for various occasions.

Hostess Gifts (And When To Use Them)

Confession: I have a bag FULL of hostess gifts at all times, ready to go. Blame it on my Southern roots. It just feels wrong to show up to someone’s house empty handed. Some exceptions apply with very close friends and family, but even then I like to usually bring something small – a token of appreciation, if you will. After all, that is exactly what a hostess gift is. A visible thank you of the hostess’s time and efforts. However, this is also an area that has become grayed over time. What is an acceptable hostess gift? Is the corn dip you bring for an appetizer a hostess gift? When should the host and hostess use the gift?

To begin, anything to be used during the event being hosted is not  a hostess gift. The gift is something the host and/or hostess could use on their own. So, we’ve eliminated the possibility of the appetizer you brought being used as a hostess gift. That being said, is a hostess gift required? Not at all. Here is a list of the only times etiquette “recommends” a hostess gift is given (for the record, I do, too): an actual dinner party – not to be confused with a few friends getting together at the last minute, a shower at which you are the guest of honor (bridal, baby, etc.), an overnight stay, holiday party, going to someone’s home for the first time, meeting someone significant (future in-laws) for the first time. Aside from these occasions, it is never considered wrong  to give a gift. It just wouldn’t be considered bad manners to not do so.

To extend onto the last point and cover a common mistake: wine or any drink brought as a hostess gift is not to be consumed at the dinner party or event. The hosts will have already provided a drink they intend to serve with the meal. This wine is meant to be enjoyed by the hosts later.

Some common hostess gifts include: wine, cocktail napkins, cookies, a candle, flowers, specialty foods, possibly an ornament, if it is a holiday party.

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The next time someone bring you a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, feel free to tuck it away to save for another day!

What are your favorite gifts to give?