Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Birthday card etiquette advice


Should the recipient of a birthday card from a "family" member open the card on receipt of the card or wait until later and not open the card knowing that the catd contains a monetary gift and only say, "Thank you?"

Dear James:

Thank you for your question. It is a common dilemma whether to open a gift in front of the giver or to wait until the giver is no longer in your presence.  A card is treated exactly like any gift.  When you receive it the best thing to do is say thank you and state that you will open it and enjoy it when you are in private.  If the giver insists that you open in front of them, then you respect their wish and open it. If it is a card and money is enclosed, the only response from you should be "Thank you so much. Your wishes are so generous and I really appreciate it."  Then, you send a handwritten thank you card after you leave them - no matter whether the amount was miniscule or outrageously generous.  The card is just as important as the money enclosed so you thank them for their kind wishes and generosity.  In your thank you note you don't mention the exact amount of their gift - just their generosity.

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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World Bank, United Nations,US Dept. of State, US. Dept. of the Army, Pentagon, Barclays Global Investors,Accenture,Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, The White House, Dept. of State, AT&T,Bank of America,American Association of Clinical Pharmacies,Ritz Carlton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels,Starwood Hotels,and many more.

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