Receiving a “bad” gift

Etiquette is very clear on that matter: you should never let a situation fester.
  • Protecting your child will only make matters worse. First it is what your child expects from you. Manipulation?
  • Take matters into your own hand on the spot, but in private. Apologize to everyone present and go talk to your child. It is not impolite to ask your host to wait before opening more presents. This event will feed the conversations for at least ten minutes anyway. You don’t really want to hear the comments.
  • Give this negotiation some time. Once alone with your child, tell him that you have ten minutes to get along. Not one more minute or he will have to come back and face the guests alone.
  • Once the crisis is over, you must help your child to return to the group. Show up two minutes before your child and ask the guests to forget about this event, that you will solve this issue at home. Ask your child to apologize to the others upon his arrival in the room. But don’t make any more comments and let the good times roll.


Showing that you are in control of the situation as soon as the crisis begins will reassure the guests about your qualities as a parent and will prevent inappropriate comments. Everyone knows that it is hard to prepare a teen to his adult life. Using this to your advantage with your head held high will be quite a challenge.

Plan a visit or a phone call to your host to thank him for his patience. Ask your teen to prepare a kind note. He could offer to wash the dishes if it ever happens again.

Sandra Paré
Public relations and protocol specialist

President of a public relations firm for over 20 years, Sandra Paré is well known in our communications and public relations community. Whether it is for protocol, public, mundane or artistic events, press relations, artistic or cultural promotion or general communication, her specialized expertise is well established.  She is also a lecturer. As such, she gives workshop-conferences in schools (elementary schools and high schools) and in public libraries on various topics such as good manners, decency, politeness and family, school and society dos and don’ts. She wrote two books on the subject.  Savoir-vivre pour les filles c’est facile! Etiquette guide for girls Savoir-vivre pour les garçons c’est facile! Etiquette guide for boys Éditions La Semaine 2011 ISBN: 9782923771434 (girls) ISBN: 9782923771519 (boys) $17.95

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