Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at www.news-sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, we are invited to a graduation party that is being hosted by several families for several grads. Are we obligated to give gifts to all of the grads even though we only know one of them well?
A. Joint high school graduation parties are becoming more common and can be a great way to share expenses, see lots of people at one time and cut down on the number of individual parties that guests have to attend. However, there are some things to know about the “etiquette” of hosting and attending these joint ventures.
If you are a guest at a joint party it would be gracious to acknowledge all of the grads in some way. However, you could certainly do more of a token gift or card for those you do not know well.
If you are one of the hosts, be sure that you send out your own invitations, with your grad's name on it, to the people you would normally be inviting if you were doing the party alone. That list should include family members, close friends, fellow students and other people, such as teachers and coaches, who have had a big influence on the grad's life.
Some other things to keep in mind:
•Cross-reference your guest list with the other hosts. Send one invitation to those who would be on another list and add their grad's name so you are not duplicating invitations.
•Set up individual tables or spaces at the party for each grad for their gifts and cards. This is also a good place to display photos and scrapbooks to showcase the grad's accomplishments. It doesn't have to be a shrine – sometimes less is more.
•Be sure you and your grad greet your guests and thank them for coming.
•Save the opening of gifts and cards for after the party.
•All gifts should be acknowledged with handwritten thank-you notes — no email thank-yous here.
•Notes should be sent no later than a month after receiving the gift, and if money has been given, don't mention the amount. Just a thank-you for the money and possibly what you intend to do with it is sufficient.
Congratulations to all those graduating this year. It is an exciting time for students and parents.