20-40-60 Etiquette: A shower without presents?
QUESTION: I am the hostess for a wedding shower. The bride gave me a link to Amazon where she is registered. When I clicked on the link, it was noted that gift cards and gifts for the party were to be sent to the bride's home. So, there will be no shower gifts at the shower. I thought that the fun of a shower was to see the gifts for the honoree and enjoy seeing what she had picked out. I am not into playing games during the party.
So, do you have any suggestions about the new way to have bridal showers?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: Opening shower gifts in front of everyone is awkward!
No bride wants to appear ungrateful to everyone who has bought gifts. For one reason, opening shower gifts is a time-suck; it is a very long process for the most part, and guests seem to get bored when you aren't opening their specific gift.
Also, there is always that one person who gives the token “weird wedding gift.” Trust me, no bride wants to open that gift in front of everyone. This tradition has been updated to playing games — join in on the new fun! Change can be good.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: I hope that the Amazon registry with gifts being sent to the bride's address is more of a convenience than it is so she doesn't have to open gifts at a shower. Can you ask the bride why she would rather have shower gifts mailed so you understand where she's coming from? The best way for you to handle this, however, is unclear, other than not including any registry information on the invitation and letting people ask you instead where she's registered.
I love seeing the gifts people bring to showers! The purpose of a shower is to celebrate the bride with gifts for her new life with her husband. I like seeing all the things that people pick out and would hate to say goodbye to that tradition entirely. A registry can be helpful in directing guests to colors and taste and specifics, but a shower and the gifts, to me, seem to let guests participate in the fun. And no, not all of them are ever perfect, but surely the bride by now has learned to be gracious and thankful publicly no matter what she thinks of the gift privately. I am sorry you're having a shower without any gifts, but I hope the bride remembers to thank everyone personally for what they mailed.
HELEN'S ANSWER: People my age still love to see the new china patterns that brides pick out and watch them opening their gifts, but I can see how hard that is for the bride-to-be, particularly if there many guests invited. I have been to showers that people bring unwrapped gifts and to those where people wrap their gifts in clear paper for all to see. The brides does not open those, but they are on display. The guests are still “showering” the bride.
It seems a little impersonal to have the gifts sent directly to the bride and not to the shower where her friends are hosting an event in her honor. So maybe the answer is to not bring gifts, just come by and wish the bride well, and enjoy food and drinks? Readers, what do you think?
GUEST'S ANSWER: Kirsten Cash, speech-language pathologist: Times are changing, and I know I have a hard time adjusting to new ways of doing things. As you alluded, the purpose of a shower is to “shower” the honoree with items to help the couple start their new life together. I would assume that in this instance, most guests will either print out a picture of the item they are giving the couple and include it in her card or write a note mentioning the item in her card. That is, of course, assuming people purchase items from their Amazon registry.
Sometimes people do not purchase items from a registry and, in those cases, it will be fun to see what the bride-to-be opens!
P.S. I like a game or two — good icebreakers especially when the guests may not know each other. Helps lighten the mood. Since there may not be much to see in the way of gifts, a game would be a good activity for guests to enjoy.
Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com.