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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Regifted Damaged Goods Etiquette

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Have you ever re-gifted a Christmas present?

Starting off the New Year when your 15-year-old is pregnant, and your gift is a damaged regift. New Year's Eve wedding etiquette dress code, and boundary setting for too much family togetherness, all questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.com.

Telltale signs of the regifter

Dear Didi,

My question is about re-gifting at Christmas time. I am so at a loss. A good friend gave my husband a lovely red cashmere sweater for a gift. After opening the box what was revealed was dog hair and a gravy stain on the sweater. Does one just keep a tight lip? Many thanks. Name withheld, Newport

Dear anonymous,

Ugh! Here's hoping you didn't give the sloppy regifter a swell present. Send a pro forma thank-you note. Two lines max. Should your husband otherwise like the sweater and it fits, as soon as possible, take it to an upmarket dry cleaner. Fine cashmere should clean well. But then, there's always Goodwill. ~Didi

Pregnant at age fifteen

Dear Didi,

My daughter is 15-years-old and her boyfriend is 16. She is pregnant and they agreed on keeping the baby. Then her boyfriend's parents sent us a message on Christmas morning saying they had sent him away for 8-10 months and he isn't responsible for the baby until he's eighteen. We have gone to family court to get things started but don't know what else we can do. They sent him into another state and to a different school and won't tell us where and won't let us communicate with him. This isn't the boyfriend's choice, his parents planned this and ambushed him last Friday when he got home and even his own brother doesn't know where he is. What should I do? I have to bring him back somehow? K.N., Location withheld

Dear K.N.,

My heart goes out to you, but most of all to your daughter. She is far too young to be a mother. If it were my 15-year-old daughter, I would help her get an abortion. This baby will ruin her life. If she has it and puts it up for adoption, she'll always wonder if that handsome boy in the checkout line ahead of her, or the nice young man bagging groceries, is her child, because he somewhat resembles the father.

Don't let your daughter ruin her life. Your daughter is only 15 and you are her parent. Be brave and do what you have to do because this isn't a situation anyone wishes to be a part of. Even if it is too late for an abortion, your daughter has options. She's making poor choices at the moment. Firstly, in getting pregnant, secondly, in agreeing to keep the baby, and most importantly in the choice of a boyfriend. You need to set her on the track of making good choices for the rest of her life. The right choice here could be the choice that saves her life. Allowing her to make the right choice to save herself will make her a stronger woman and a more responsible adult, so that one day she can be a good mother, when she's educated and ready to take on such an enormously huge responsibility.

Forget about bringing him back. His family has already told you that they aren't taking responsibility. This is 2014, we have birth control and the morning after pill, etc. Ask yourself, why would you even want to be associated with the boy or his family after the way they've behaved? They have humiliated your daughter and your family. Why would you want to become a part of a family that already hates your family?

Be brave. Save your daughter or otherwise it will be a downward spiral for your family. As soon as physically possible, take your daughter to your local Planned Parenthood for further advice. Google in plannedparenthood.org for a location near you. You'll find sympathetic professionals to help your daughter, who are kinder than me. ~Didi

New Year's Eve wedding dress code

Dear Didi,

New Year's Eve wedding at hotel outside of Boston - ceremony at hotel as well, approx. 7 p.m. I have a black lace ruched dress, above the knee, sleeveless. What color shoes and nylons (if any) should I wear? Black patent open toe with no nylons? Deep red closed toe with nude nylons? Black closed toe with nude or black sheer nylons? I haven't worn nylons in at least 10 years. And do shoes have to be closed toe if everything is indoors; i.e. not going outside as you normally would to get from a church to a reception site? Thank you. L.A., Boston

Dear L.A.,

Unless your legs are buff, toned and shiny, wear legwear a shade lighter than your skin tone with a bit of shine or shimmer to dress up your legs. Usually, peep-toed shoes are worn in a warm climate without legwear. They are a kind of sandal when you think about it. Sandals and naked legs with a short dress on a cold New England evening may send shivers up your spine walking from the car into the hotel, and again on the way home. If your dress were long, you could get away with it.

Should you decide on the red shoes, wear legwear a tone lighter than your skin tone. With black heels wear either a skin tone or black legwear, but they have to be sheer. Not opaque black tights worn to do pilates. Just so you know, legwear has gone to a whole new level in terms of comfort and style. At better department stores look for brands such as Wolford to see how greatly legwear has improved, even in terms of durability. ~Didi

Holidays with too much togetherness

Hi Didi!

Charles and I are 71 and 65, married only 10 years, so happy, two grown daughters in DC, married to great guys all with fabulous jobs, one grandchild who's 2. We live in NC. The girls' in-laws live 4 hours away from them. So my (our) daughters like us to all get together at their husbands' houses respectively, sometimes spending the night. Whew! Way too much togetherness. We love our daughters and little baby Henry, but with that many people around we really don't get to talk to anyone very much. Oh, did I mention four dogs? I'm worn out. I don't want to do this anymore. Can't Charles and I just stay home for Christmas and if they want to see us, they can come here like they did for Thanksgiving. I bet you've gotten this question hundreds of times. But I'd love to hear from you! V.S., Durham, NC

Dear V.S.,

You and Charles can set boundaries with your daughters and their extended families. Just say, "We've gotten to the stage in life where we would rather have you visit us. To put it bluntly, we would rather sleep in our own bed, but you are welcome here any time." They may feel that they have to include you in all the holidays and that you'll feel neglected, if you don't join them. Let your daughters off the guilt trip hook. You don't even have to be gentle about it. Tell them how you really feel and they won't feel "guilty" about not sharing holidays. More importantly, you won't feel guilt-ridden in doing something you really don't want to do. After all, it's your holiday, too. ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at NewportManners.com. We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly GoLocalProv.com columns can be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above lefthand search.


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