Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Gifts addressed to spouse


Hello Ms Lett,  Today my husband received flowers for the holiday addressed to him  and with a greeting which read "I am grateful for my brother. Love Midge". We have been married 20 years and  these gifts always arrive addressed to him  and with a greeting to him. Seems childish, immature and inconsiderate to not include me, the spouse in the gift.Is this appropriate behavior? Should I say anything?  Should he say anything to sis? Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

Dear Talia:

Thank you so much for your question. It is proper to give a gift for the house (and flowers are for the house, not just the personal enjoyment of one of its inhabitants addressed to only one of the parties living there.)  Your Sister-in-law has the right to give to her brother anything she likes that would be used for his enjoyment/usefulness only - like a razor or sweater to celebrate a personal occasion like a birthday.  If she were being proper, she would send holiday house gifts (like wine, flowers, food, etc.) to both of you since once married, you are considered one unit living in the house.  If she doesn't send gifts specifically for you for your celebrations, then you can't say anything or do anything about it.  If she wishes holiday wishes only to her brother and not to you, the only thing you can say to her is, "The flowers you sent to husband are beautiful. I know he appreciates them and they are lovely to look at."  You can't thank her for them because they are not a gift to you.  You can say how you admire them, however.  You should be kind and send holiday wishes to her from both of you or from your family.

Keep in mind that you cannot deride her for not giving you a gift or including you on the one she sent her brother.  That would be petty and mean and we both know that would not be your intent.  It would be best to say nothing and be cordial when you next see her.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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).

Past/Present Clients
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.

©2017 All rights reserved.