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Miss Manners: Tiptoeing on running for charity

Dear Miss Manners: I’m curious about whether you have an official stance on the act of soliciting donations for marathons, triathlons, etc. Can it ever be appropriate? Does throwing a party to fundraise for the race make it more acceptable?

Gentle Reader: If it is any consolation, there is a long and honorable tradition of private individuals raising money for charity. But there is an equally long, if less honorable, tradition of annoying one’s friends with constant requests for money. Which of those traditions your friends would think you are following depends not on the purity of your cause, but on the aggressiveness of your tactics. If you do choose to fundraise, Miss Manners recommends a dignified and restrained approach.

Decorating daughter’s room

Dear Miss Manners: My daughter is turning 12 and wants us, her parents, to redecorate her room, and she also wants to have a birthday party.

I told her she could only get her room redecorated or have a birthday party. She suggested that she have a “room decorating party” where she invites her friends, and instead of bringing random gifts, she asks them to bring an item for her room. She would ask them to bring something that relates to their friendship in the color of her room.

Is this appropriate?

Gentle Reader: Your daughter is to be commended for quick thinking, if not – in this case – good manners. Presents are a voluntary offering not properly dictated by the recipient. Miss Manners suggests that your daughter instead apply herself to finding a redecorating solution that doesn’t mean dunning her parents or her friends.

Not wanting a child as guest

Dear Miss Manners: I’m allowing children at my wedding reception. However, I have one guest whose child I do not want to come. How can I ask this one person not to bring their child, when there are plenty of other children in attendance? My reason is that the child has a history of attacking his parents, other children and adults in large group settings. In the last two engagements, the police were called.

Gentle Reader: The police? Is that child attacking people with the wedding cake knife?

Your options are limited. You may choose not to invite children generally. You may choose not to invite the parent – avoiding the troublesome child along the way. Or you may speak with the guest and say that while you adore the child, you suspect that this event might not be an especially good fit.

The third option does not guarantee the outcome you want, but separating parents from their children against their will requires more force than etiquette provides.