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Graduation gifts, parties not a must

Dear Miss Manners: Are you obligated to have a graduation party for your child in order for your child to receive gifts?

When I graduated high school in 1981, some of my friends had parties, but most did not. All of us still received gifts (usually monetary) from family and friends.

I've now been told that you have to have a graduation party for your child to receive gifts. I personally think it's ridiculous. People now seem insulted if they receive a graduation announcement and are expected to send a small monetary gift if you don't have a party.

I don't think anyone should feel obligated to send a gift, nor should I feel obligated to pay for a party. I always give my children the option of having a party, or they can choose to take the money I would spend on a party and use it for their senior trip. We've never had a lot of money to go on vacations, so I feel this is a fun thing for my kids to do if they would like.

Graduation parties seem to be getting out of hand, like everyone expecting parties every year for their birthday. That didn't happen in my house, either. They each had about four parties, but I don't believe in all these parties and the constant "gimme gimme" attitude of young people.

Am I being rude to send out graduation announcements to family and friends even if I'm not planning on having a party?

Gentle Reader: Graduation parties are indeed getting out of hand. But if you truly want to discourage the "gimme gimme" culture, which Miss Manners considers a noble goal, you should not be speculating about how best to get presents for your child.

It is true that guests are more likely to produce them than those who merely receive announcements. (Actually, neither is obligated; congratulations are all that is required.) But so what?

The decision about giving a party should be based on your and your child's inclinations, your resources, and whether this is something your guests would enjoy, not the expectation of tribute from them.


Upset by 'cougar' remark

Dear Miss Manners: I was at a party talking to the hostess and another couple. I complimented the hostess on her son's good looks. The male of the couple called me a cougar. I ignored the remark, but I am upset about being called a cougar (this was not a compliment).

How could this have been handled at the party so I was not upset?

Gentle Reader: By smiling sweetly and saying, "I suppose if I'd admired a baby, you'd call me a child molester."