Q. My nephew is getting married. He and his fiancee have been living together for a while and they have requested no bridal showers. The future bride says they don't need anything. Instead of a shower, she is having a "Ladies Luncheon" before the wedding at their house. She said it is not going to be anything fancy --- just an opportunity for her to get to know us a little more before the wedding.
Should I take some kind of gift to the luncheon? If so, what would you suggest? I don't want to make her angry if she is not requesting any gifts, but I would feel very uncomfortable not taking a gift.
Also, for the wedding gift, they have only requested that we go to a "honeymoon" website, so this is limited also. Times have certainly changed since my husband and I got married. It was unheard of to ask your guests to pay or help pay for your honeymoon as a wedding gift. As I use or look at the various wedding gifts my husband and I received, it brings back loving memories and thoughts of the of the people who gave us those gifts. I'm sure that would be the case with the kind of wedding gift they are suggesting. However, we want to do the right thing. We would appreciate your advice, please.
A. Yes, times have changed to some extent when it comes to weddings, from gift registry options at various stores to tropical island destination weddings. However, what has not changed is the wedding guests' final choice of wedding gift. I will address that question first.
Like you, I am definitely a "traditionalist" when it comes to wedding gifts. I refer to the registry at various stores for gift options and ideas for the bride and groom, and in this case, yes, I would also look at the honeymoon website. However, even though the bride and groom have been living together and say they don't need anything, I would still prefer to give them a gift which, as you said, would remind them of you and your husband and your love for them whenever they used it or saw it. Helping to pay for a honeymoon is not my idea of a wedding gift.
Gift ideas: a footed crystal cake plate; a crystal serving bowl; a silver serving tray or candy dish; crystal candle holders; punch bowl, etc. In this case, especially, it appears your nephew's fiancee likes to entertain and, since you will be attending the luncheon in their home before the wedding, you will have an ideal opportunity to see what kind of serving piece you might like to give them. You will also have the opportunity to see the type and pattern of their china or dinnerware. Matching serving bowls or platters make great wedding gifts.
As to whether you take a gift to the "Ladies Luncheon" (which, by the way, I feel is a wonderful thing for her to do), this is the applicable protocol: Whenever you are invited to someone's home for a party, luncheon or dinner, it is proper to take a "hostess gift" as a thank-you to the hostess for inviting you into her home, preparing food for you, her hospitality, etc.
A hostess gift is not expected to be expensive, nor is it expected to be opened or used at the event. Some of the best hostess gifts are items such as these:
A little basket with a combination of any of these items: a small loaf of homemade bread, like peach bread (peaches are in season now); a little jar of peach jam; some fresh peaches; small containers or boxes of flavored coffees; speciality teas; a small box of chocolates; speciality gourmet candy bars; homemade cookies; little packages of gourmet cookies; a homemade pie.
Wrap the little basket or pie or whatever with some pretty ribbon and be sure to include a little note so she knows for sure later who gave it to her, and "voila" you will feel good and so will she.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to firstname.lastname@example.org