Q. This is our family’s first attempt at this and I didn’t like the idea of drawing a name at Thanksgiving dinner and then buying a Christmas present only for that person. It certainly wasn’t my idea. I think I should be able to buy presents for as many of my family members as I want.
After saying that, I really got jumped on by everyone who told me if I did that, I’d be in big trouble. I still say it is my prerogative to buy a separate gift for my godmother-aunt and my niece, for whom I am godmother. If I have a valid reason, I don’t think anyone should get upset or feel slighted, and I don’t feel it is improper. Is it?
A. While you have agreed to purchase a Christmas gift for the person whose name you drew, your justification to purchase gifts for the two special family members you identified seems appropriate to me. To avoid any possible negative feedback, perhaps you could give those two gifts at another time, or at least after the family gift-giving event on Christmas.
Q. I have a dilemma. On Thanksgiving Day we were called by some dear out-of-state friends to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. During the conversation, they mentioned they would be alone for Christmas, so since we have been friends for a long, long time and traveled together on many vacations, I invited them to join us for Christmas at our house.
Just yesterday, our son, who lives in California, sent an e-mail telling us he and his wife were giving us airline tickets to come to their house for Christmas. To make sure we wouldn’t say no, he booked the flights. Naturally, we want to be there, but what do I do about the invitation I extended to our other friends? I know it is very improper to cancel an invitation once it has been extended. I feel terrible. What is the proper way to handle this?
A. Yes, once an invitation has been extended, it normally should not be rescinded. However, there are circumstances such as the one you describe which allow cancellation.
You indicated this couple has traveled with you and your husband many times and you have known them for many years. Because they are such good friends, and though they will naturally be disappointed about the change in your plans, they will also be delighted and happy for you. Contact them as soon as possible to tell them about the surprise Christmas present from your son and apologize for having to cancel their visit. If possible, discuss planning another time for their visit or another trip the four of you can schedule.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.