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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Same-Sex Etiquette for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Unless the dress code is "Holiday Ugly Sweater" stick to "Cocktail Attire."

From a bad mannered dad who gambled away his kids' Christmas present money, to same-sex married couples figuring out the new etiquette, as well as what to wear when you don't have "Cocktail Attire." All questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners.com this week.

Dad Gambled Away Santa's Presents

Dear Didi,

My husband lost our Christmas present money gambling. He said he was just going to play a few slot machines, but he got hooked into losing all our money for presents at the tables. This isn't the first time this has happened. Do you think I can ask his mom and dad to loan or give me money to buy our children (their grandchildren) Christmas presents, or would that be impolite? My parents would be horrified, so I can't ask them for help. A.T., Pawtucket

Dear A.T.,

What's not polite, nor smart, is your husband using his children's Christmas present money for his own amusement. Families—and especially in-laws—can be tricky. Since this isn't the first time your husband recklessly squandered money gambling, he should go to his parents to discuss his problem—but only after figuring out his options for getting longterm gambling addiction treatment. If he convinces them he's ready to stop gambling, maybe out of the goodness of their hearts they'll loan or give you money to buy your children gifts. But remember, he won't be able to go back to them again with the same sad story. Before he asks them, he needs to have a viable plan for coping with his gambling addiction. ~Didi

Holiday Etiquette for Same-Sex Marriage

Dear Didi,

My same-sex partner and I have been together for over twenty years and were finally able to wed last month (on 11/12/13 at 10:00 AM). As secure as we are in our relationship, we're unsure as to how to spread our good news to our wide circle of friends. We can't host a reception because we know too many people and inevitably someone would be left out. How can we get the word out? Since we've been together for so long we don't need anything for the house. However, we want to be treated on invitations as a married couple. You invite one of us to your holiday party, you get both of us. It's awkward calling someone up to RSVP, who only invited me, to ask if my husband can come. And yet, I can't just bring him along without asking the host, can I? B.M., Providence

Dear B.M.,

As soon as possible, send out an email blast or a paperlesspost.com message that is 'an announcement' of your recent marriage. Some companies will send you additional paper announcements to stamp and mail to those whose email addresses you don't have. Be sure you send one to all those who have sent you holiday event invites and e-evites. You'll have a positive response from those who text or call to congratulate you. As your partner should now be treated as your husband, you can safely assume that when you RSVP for two, it won't be a big deal. When in doubt, text or call to tell the host the good news and that you would like to bring your husband. Should someone ask where you're registered, and they will, register online immediately at your fav non-profit, whose name and address can be included on your 'announcement.' ~Didi

Taking It Down A Notch When the Holiday Invitation Says "Cocktail Attire"

Dear Didi

My husband and I have been invited to a Holiday Party at the home of social acquaintances. The party is at 6:30pm for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, not a dinner party. The dress code is "Cocktail Attire"

Here is the problem, we are retired now and no longer own the proper cocktail attire. Ten years ago when in business that was a different story. Since then, we have downsized and taken on a very casual lifestyle. Should I decline on the basis of not owning the proper dress or accept and wear casual slacks and a shirt? Thank you. M.S., Narragansett

Dear M.S.,

Don't you dare regret a Holiday party because your clothing isn't dressy enough. "Cocktail Attire" is not so much about the dressiness of the clothing as the quality of the outfit. By specifying the dress code "Cocktail Attire" on the invitation the hosts are hoping men will wear jackets. Also, it says more about what they don't want you to wear: jeans, shorts, baseball caps, sandals, sneakers, cargo pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweat pants; in other words no gym clothes. If your husband doesn't wear a collared shirt with a tie any longer, how about a turtleneck with a jacket and nice trousers. You can wear your best fitting slacks and a pretty blouse or sweater; that's not too casual. A little festiveness is fine, but dress conservatively tone on tone; for instance your cardigan sweater would be a shade lighter or darker than your slacks. When you're feeling insecure about your clothing, forget about attention-grabbing bright colors or, say, a Christmas sweater or pin—although everyone smiles at the prerequisite Christmas tie. ~Didi

New wife doesn't have to attend husband's former girlfriend's funeral

Dear Didi

My 2nd husband and i have been married 4 years. His ex-girlfriend's daughter married his nephew. The ex-girlfriend's mother just passed away and the funeral is next week. They did not have a good break-up, and, no, it was not me who broke them up.

I told my husband that he should attend the funeral, but that it wasn't my place as the new wife to attend, as this is their moment and I don't need to be seen there.

Am I wrong? B.B., Location withheld

Dear B.B.,

Neither of you have to go to the funeral. It is hypocritical to attend the funeral of someone you didn't really know or even like. So why go? You certainly don't have to attend your husband's nephew's wife's grandmother's funeral, unless you want to. If your husband goes in support of his nephew's wife that's one thing, but you're absolutely right: you don't need to be seen there. You don't want be a part of the drama. ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Email it to Didi@GoLocalProv.com or 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 GoLocalWorcester.com columns can be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above lefthand search.


Related Slideshow: 30 Ways To Give In Central Mass This Holiday Season

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Salvation Army

The Salvation Army’s traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless. Donations provide and financial assistance provides Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need including families of prisoners. Simply make a donation wherever you see their trademark red kettle or do so online by clicking here.

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Goodwill Mass accepts donations of men's, women's or children's clothing and other textiles. Some of the clothing donations are provided to our clients who may need an outfit for an interview or a one week supply of clothing for a new job. Most is sold to neighboring Goodwills, or as salvage with all revenues raised going back into programs and services for Rhode islanders.

You may drop off your old clothing at one of the many clothing donation bins throughout the state or at the drop-box located in 25 Park Avenue, Worcester.

Click here for more information.

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Operation Homefront

Formed in 2002, Operation Homefront is a nonprofit organization developed to support military families. On December 14, Operation Homefront will host a “Holiday Toys for Military Kids” event in Wellesly Hills, Taunton, and Springfield from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Toys are limited and are on a first come, first serve registration process. Once your registration is complete you will receive a confirmation email. Please note that this program is for military dependent children only.

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African Community Education Program

Donate non-perishable food items such as rice, beans, and canned vegetables for Thanksgiving distribution by November 21. Donate new or gently used winter clothing such as boots, hats, scarves, and coats to be distributed to ACE families during the holiday season. Donations accepted November – January.

Contact: Amy Connery (508) 799-3653

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AIDS Project Worcester

Donate gift cards, new toys, and new clothes; personal care items such as soap, shampoo, washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, and disposable diapers; and canned goods for December holiday food baskets.

Contact: Patricia Price (508) 755-3773

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Alternatives Unlimited

Donate tickets to sporting events, theatres, and movies; specialty food items, health and beauty items; kitchen essentials; gift baskets; and gift certificates to grocery stores, pharmacies, and department stores.

Contact: Sandra Marquis (508) 266-6517

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Auburn Youth and Family Services

Donate new toys, games, and books for children of all ages; grocery store gift cards for holiday food baskets; gifts for teens such as movie passes, music, gaming gift cards, and personal care items; and gift cards to clothing and shoe stores to purchase gifts for children and teens. Adopt a family and provide gifts for Christmas. Call for details.

Contact: Sheryl Spafford (508) 832-5707 ext. 10

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Big Brother Big Sisters Central MA

Donate gift cards to local grocery and discount stores; board games; craft supplies; sports equipment and balls; and other small gift items suitable for children.

Contact: Melanie Perreault (508) 752-7868 ext. 14

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Boys and Girls Club of Worcester

Donate holiday gifts for children ages 5 – 18 including gift cards for teens to purchase items such as movies, music, and clothing; grocery store gift cards to purchase holiday meals for families in need; and wrapping paper and supplies such as bows and cards. Adopt a family for the holidays and provide gifts. Call for details.

Contact: Liz Hamilton (508) 754-2686

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Burncoat Family Center

Donate new toys, books, clothes, outerwear, boots, and gift cards for boys and girls ages 4 – 18; gift certificates for movies, bowling, and other activities; non-religious holiday decorations and gift-wrap; and food for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Contact: Anna Berin (508) 853-6988

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Catholic Charities

Donate new winter coats, gloves, mittens, and hats for adults and children; gift cards to pharmacies, grocery stores, and discount retail stores; and non-perishable food donations.

Contact: Cynthia Taberner (508) 860-2206

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Central MA Housing Alliance

Donate gifts for homeless children of all ages and new household items for more than 80 homeless families including sheet sets, blankets, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, and gift cards to discount and grocery stores. Gifts for teens especially needed.

Contact: Katherine Kerr (508) 791-7265

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Children's Friend Inc

Donate gift cards for discount and grocery stores that will be distributed to needy families during the holiday season to be used for food, clothes, and gifts.

Contact: Karen Ludington (508) 459-6424

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Community Healthlink - Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program

Donate winter hats and gloves and gift cards to discount stores, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants.

Contact: Brian Bickford (508) 860-1139

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Community Healthlink - Victim Services

Donate new coats, hats, gloves, and mittens for children, adolescents, and adults of all sizes. Donate new board games and gift cards in denominations of $10 – $25.

Contact: Amanda Atchue (508) 421-4501

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Dare Family Services

Donate toys and other items for children ages 10 – 18. Items for teens especially needed.

Contact: Armida Martinez

(508) 755-7100

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Dismas House

Donate gift cards for male residents: sheets and blankets, toiletries, hats, gloves, and pajamas.

Contact: David McMahon

(508) 799-9389

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Family Health Center of Worcester

Donate new items for newborns and mothers in need: baby blankets, toiletries, newborn undergarments, socks, bibs, infant equipment such as car seats, new maternity clothes, and gift cards for discount and grocery stores. Donate new items for immigrants/refugees such as gloves and mittens, hats, scarves, and home first aid kits. Donate new household items for homeless families including sheet sets, blankets, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and dishes.

Contact: Georgianna Sgariglia

(508) 860-7951

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Elder Services of Worcester

Donate small toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo to be used as gifts for Meals on Wheels recipients.

Contact: Julia Martiros

(508) 852-3205

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Family Success Partnership

Donate gift cards to grocery stores to purchase items for a holiday meal; gift cards to discount stores; and children’s winter clothing including gloves, socks, and small-sized winter coats.

Contact: Courtney Hale

(774) 245-5416

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Frances Perkins and Foundations

Donate educational toys for children ages 1 – 12; gift cards and gift certificates; and household items such as bedding, pots and pans; personal hygiene products, and diapers.

Contact: Ivonne Suarez

(508) 757-7506

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YWCA of Central MA

Donate coats for women, children, and teens; hats and gloves; books for all ages, journals, and gift cards to discount and grocery stores.

Contact: Amarely Gutierrez

(508) 755-5371 ext. 3014

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Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital

Donate men’s and women’s clothing in all sizes (especially XL and plus sizes) such as sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, underwear, and t-shirts; toiletries such as hairbrushes, makeup, shampoo, body wash, and lotion; inexpensive male and female jewelry items such as crosses, watches, and rings; games, cards, word search books, and other small gift items.

Contact: Sandy Epstein

(508) 368-3524

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Worcester Housing Authority

Donate Christmas trees and decorations for use in resident community rooms; pie filling or grocery store gift cards for holiday food; and hats and gloves for children in all sizes.

Contact: Lynn O’Toole

(508) 635-3306

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Worcester County Food Bank

Donate non-perishable food for distribution to area emergency feeding programs. Drop off items Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 474 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury. Please call the office before dropping off. Please visit www.foodbank.org for more information.


(508) 842-3663

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Horace Mann Educational Associates

Donate linens and blankets, craft supplies, gloves, hats, scarves, and gift cards to pharmacy and grocery stores. Items donated to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Contact: Tracy Andryc

(508) 298-1129

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Key Program

Donate small gifts for teenage girls in residential shelter such as warm socks, gloves, scarves, hats, journals, and hygiene products.

Contact: Stephanie Towne

(508) 852-6277

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Donate toys for children ages 2 and up including Disney toys, Dora, pretend food items, art supplies, model cars, blocks, and books; gift cards to toy and discount stores. Gift items for teenage boys especially needed.

Contact: Melissa Murphy

(508) 762-3205

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Nativity School of Worcester

Donate navy blue blazers, white button down shirts, khaki pants, belts, and dress shoes for boys in sizes from boys’ small to men’s medium; sports equipment such as baseballs, soccer balls, and related items; art supplies and music equipment such as instruments, scores, and songbooks.

Contact: Patrick Maloney

(508) 799-0100

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American Red Cross of Central MA

Join us for our annual “Holiday for Heroes” campaign. Assist by reviewing, categorizing, and bundling holiday cards that will be delivered to veterans in Central MA. You would need to dedicate about three hours for this one-time seasonal event in early December. Call to schedule date.

Contact: Ray Duffy (508) 595-3762



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