Miss Etiquette for advice

Miss Etiquette and anniversaries.


Dear Miss Etiquette:

I was wondering if you could answer a question for me about party invitations.  It is my parents' 25th anniversary this spring, and my siblings and I are throwing them a surprise party.

We know most of the guests would like to bring a gift or give money in a card. We do not want the guests to go to the trouble of buying a gift, but understand that people would still like to give something.  How do we mention that a money tree will be set up for those who would like to give a gift?

Do we mention that it will be there, but guests are not obligated to give?  Should it be mentioned as the last item in the invitation?  Your help with this matter would be greatly appreciated.

-- signed, Concerned 
Miss Etiquette and her advice is symbolized by this red rose.
Dear Concerned:  May I recite some anniversary party etiquette?  Planning the party is no different from planning any other party.  You should have a budget and stick to it.   It will determine all of your costs associated with your parents, your relatives, other guests, food, beverages, the anniversary cake, decorations, photographer.  If it is a small private party, it is not customary for anyone to bring a gift to a 25th wedding anniversary party nor is it customary to ask your guests to bring a gift.  For a large party of 75 people or more,  you may expect people to bring gifts.

I do not know what part of the country is your home.  I have heard about the money tree popping up at weddings, anniversary parties, bridal parties, baby showers, and some childrens' events.  This customized gimmick is not in any etiquette book.  In fact, it is considered rude to ask for money. 

If you are sending an informal invitation -- the fill in the blank type -- and it is a small party you may put at the lower right hand corner, ?Please, No Gifts? or ?Please, No Presents.?  If you are issuing formal invitations -- invitations that are engraved -- you would not have this message engraved on the card but would have it as an insert.

It would seem strange for children to ask family and friends for money for their parents. I know, I know.  You really want to do this and money trees are a part of many parties but this theme is not part of proper etiquette.

By the way here are two little facts for you.  There is proper etiquette for the anniversary cake, if you are ordering one.   And if only a few people arrive with gifts for your parents, the gifts are opened away from the other guests and only in front of the giver or your parents may opened them after the party.  It would be shameful to embarrass or hurt the feelings of those who brought their good wishes to the party by opening a gift in front of them that someone else brought.   Remember, good manners is the art of making others feel comfortable. 

Asking for money is beyond ?tacky.?  If you continue to stamp your feet and tell me by return mail over and over again of all of your friends informing you that this practice of extracting money from people is perfectly all right, I will forever wonder why you uphold the example of bad manners as your beacon of light.

-- sincerely, Miss Etiquette
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