Etiquette: Wearing PJ's to a New Year's Eve party rocks daughter's boat

For the News-DemocratDecember 30, 2013 

Q. My daughter got engaged shortly before Christmas. He's a wonderful young man, but I am beginning to wonder about his silly sisters. My daughter says they have planned a big New Year's Eve party at a very nice hotel. They rented a private party room with all the drinks and food and even a band.

The unusual silly part is the invitation to everyone says the attire is "Christmas pajamas." There is supposed to be a prize for the craziest Christmas pj's. My daughter says she thinks that is what she'll be getting for Christmas when she goes to his house to open presents.

My daughter bought the cutest little black cocktail dress in early November to wear on New Year's Eve. She is not the type of girl to want to go out on New Year's Eve wearing pj's, but I'm not too sure she is willing to rock the boat with his family. I just would like your opinion on whether PJ's are appropriate for a New Year's Eve party. In my day, PJ's were for overnight girlfriend slumber parties. What is going on?

A. Well, as you might expect, you will not catch me wearing Christmas PJ's or any other kind of PJ's to a New Year's Eve party, or any other kind of party -- except maybe a Halloween party.

Nor do I feel it is appropriate to go anywhere outside your own home in PJ's, much less Christmas PJ's. However, these Christmas PJ's seem to be quite a fad recently. I have seen them in several recent television commercials and I understand there are a few YouTube home videos featuring them.

You would be walking into a hotel wearing PJ's along with a lot of other New Year's Eve guests attending other parties in the hotel who are wearing wonderful little black, silver or gold cocktail dresses and heels. I would definitely be aghast if my date had a car problem and we had to call a tow truck, or even worse, if we happened to be stopped by a policeman for a seat belt check.

Maybe some Christmas PJ's come with New Year's face masks. That would be convenient. Nonetheless, as you said, it probably is not a good idea for your daughter to rock the boat with her potential future sisters-in-law. Being a good sport goes a long way, and it can still be a fun evening for her with her special guy.

As far as the little black dress is concerned: Definitely do not return it. What she might want to consider is dropping the hint to her fiance about her new dress and "maybe he would want to take her out for a romantic dinner and perhaps a party the night before New Year's Eve" so she can wear it. If that does not work, she could plan a "dress up" dinner date for the following Saturday night.

Food for thought for your daughter for next New Year's Eve: Plan a "dress-up" party and send out the invitations before the sisters-in-law come up with another one of their unusual ideas.

Q. My boyfriend and I were supposed to be going out with another couple to celebrate on New Year's Eve. We made these plans a long time ago. Meanwhile, I recently broke up with my boyfriend. My girlfriend and her boyfriend are saying they still want me to come with them. So far, I have declined. My father thinks I am being unsophisticated and inconsiderate of my girlfriend if I don't go with them. I think they are probably just trying to be nice. It's to an early dinner at a nice restaurant, a movie, and then a house party, where I won't know many of the people invited.

Do I need to reconsider and go with them even though I would feel awkward going without a date?

A. No, you do not need to reconsider. You are probably being more considerate and sophisticated by not going with your girlfriend and her boyfriend.

Q. Isn't champagne sort of the traditional or appropriate drink for New Year's parties? We're having a party and my husband says wine is enough.

A. Yes, champagne is very traditional and considered an "elegant" beverage of choice for celebrating New Year's Eve, but it is not considered mandatory or "more appropriate" than any other choice of beverage. As the host and hostess, final beverage choices are yours.

I hope the two of you come to a happy, agreeable decision.

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

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