Writing Samples

Ask Theresa-Hostess Gifts, Travel, and Sales Parties-Oh My!

Dear Theresa, What are appropriate, creative host gifts when attending a dinner party? People do wine a lot, what's something else? I don’t want to do the same ole’ same ole’. Also, should you write thank you notes following a dinner party that you brought a host gift to?

Mary Lou C., Columbus, GA

Dear Mary Lou,

YES! I LOVE creative hostess gifts. Wine is wonderful gift if you know that your hostess is a fan. If you aren’t a wino, ask your local package store owner for a little guidance. But how well do you know your hostess? Even if she loves wine, what about cocktail napkins or a pretty corkscrew? Maybe an apron? Flowers are always a nice way to go. But arrange them and place them in a vase so that your hostess can simply set them somewhere and not have to arrange them while she is still trying to prepare her meal. No matter what you decide, remember, it’s simply a token of appreciation. You don’t have to go big. It really is the thought that counts. And yes, if someone has invited you into their home, you should send a note of thanks. Every time. Even if you brought a gift. Happy Dining!

Dear Theresa,

When you are seated on a bus or train and you see an older lady or a young mom standing, should you give up your seat even if there are men seated near by as well?

Caroline O., Japan

Dear Caroline,

First of all, I am disappointed that you have been in a situation where men were seated and didn’t offer up their seats. However, yes. If you notice someone who obviously needs a seat and chivalry looks like death warmed over next to you, offer your seat up. Upside, you’ve shown kindness to someone one. OTHER upside, you’ve shamed the “men” in the vicinity. I am all for girl power, but I am also for men being men. And after a little research, it seems like this is the standard in Japan as well. So...when Death on a Cracker across from you can’t be bothered to stand, kuddos to you for being the one to relieve that sweet little mama who just needs the next five minutes to rest her weary bones.

Dear Theresa,

I have a friend who owns her own business as part of a sales team. I enjoy some of the products from their company, but very much prefer to navigate the purchasing alone. How do I respond to sales "party" invitations or group events if I know I'm not interested in participating in that way? Do you have advice for dealing graciously/not losing any brand new fledgling friendships over this?

-Sales Party Pooper

Dear Sales Party Pooper,

I feel ya. In group settings, especially the ones where your friend might have a party in their home or at someone else’s home, it is hard to not succumb to peer pressure and buy more than you intended, or even just not get exactly what you wanted and get talked into another product. Maybe you can buy what you want before the event and beg off with your friend. Or maybe you were invited to a group party online. These are easier to avoid by simply joining the “party” and then turning off the notifications. You can make a purchase when you are ready and your friend will still see your participation. While I do believe that honesty is the best policy, I get that the beginnings of friendships can be difficult when you don’t know one another very well and you aren’t sure how the other person may react. However, I also think that you will set a firm foundation for a lasting friendship by having a chat with your new friend and letting her know that you would love to come to her party, but explain how you probably won’t make any purchases right then. She will probably appreciate your honesty and be grateful for your presence at her gathering either way. And who knows, Louie? This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Theresa Garcia Robertson is a native of Columbus, Georgia and resides in Cataula with her husband, Randy, dogs, Oscar and John Wayne, and several chickens. She reads the Sunday New York Times cover to cover over the course of the week and could eat a McDonald’s Southwest salad every day for the rest of her life without tiring of it. The Robertsons are members of First Baptist Church.

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