The first time, I thought it was a joke.

I'd just written a short link post, and I'd gotten the following comment in my blog:

When is the proper time to get up and leave the breakfast lunch or dinner table,whether it be with your spouse and childen and or company?

I just figured that one of my readers was messing with me. Then there was another:

My cousin is having an adoption party for her 3 sons that her present husband is adopting. What kind of gift would you give in this case?

I appreciate your feedback....

A quick look at my referrer page shows that I have a bunch of hits coming from Google - 250 or so right now. Turns out that due to my Google Karma, I'm the 8th most popular post on "Miss Manners".

I ignored this for a few days, until I got the following email last Thursday:

Sender: Ann
Email address: <deleted>

How does this work...I submitted a question, but I've noticed that none of the other questions posted on you site have been answered!!! I asked best way to say "no gifts" please.

Hmm. Ann is serious, and apparently, so are the other 17 people who also asked me questions. Which therefore poses a bit of a dilemna:

Should I answer them?

I mean, I'm not an advice columnist, but many of these questions are pretty easy to answer. For example:

Q: What is the proper language to use in asking your co-workers to support your child's fundraiser?

A: Such language does not exist. Most co-workers likely have no connection at all to your child, and it's unfair to ask them to help support something your child is doing, especially in a way that might make them feel like they have to contribute. This is really bad if you're young and childless and all your co-workers have kids. Friends are another story, though one should also try not to impose.

If there's a way to post something on a bulletin board or on your desk so that people can offer to donate if they want, I think that's okay.

Q: What is most polite way to suggest "not" bringing gifts to an adult birthday party?

A: People want to bring something to a party, and if you tell them to bring nothing, they won't feel as nice - especially if somebody else does bring something.

Two ideas for getting around this:

  1. Make it a theme party. Ask everybody to bring a different bottle of wine for a wine tasting, or their favorite cheese, or something like that. Something cheap and consumable.
  2. Do something for charity. Write something like, "Since I have been lucky in life, I don't really need any presents, so if you wish, instead of a present please bring a blanket to donate to the homeless". Or do the same with food for a food bank.

The danger, of course, is that I would hit the #1 spot on Google. In fact, merely the mention of "M. Manners" in this post might bump me up.