I accidentally hugged my interviewer, which office should I choose, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. I accidentally hugged my interviewer

I am 19 years old and I have a question about a situation that took place at an interview that I am really overthinking. I had an interview today for a retail company. She said that my resume was amazing and it was more of a chat than an interview. I think I answered the questions really well and interviewer was nodding along. In my opinion, the interview went really well.

The interview came to an end and she told me where I could find the exit. I went in for a handshake and quickly realized her hands were full. She tried to empty her hands, but I thought she went in for a hug. I awkwardly hugged her and whispered OMG and then walked out.

As you can tell, it was a mortifying and embarrassing situation. She was a really friendly and easygoing person. Do you think she may have took it in a weird and unprofessional way and it could affect my chance of getting a job?

Oh no! I am a fan of awkward hugging stories, but of course you don’t want that to happen at an interview.

Honestly, if she’s a decent person, she probably realizes what happened and could tell you were mortified … but if she can’t tell that, then she just thinks you’re a 19-year-old who wasn’t sure how to end a job interview. (You being 19 makes this a lot better — because it’s really common at that age to not have professional interview protocol totally down. It would be much weirder if this happened at 43.)

Now, will it hurt your chances? Maybe. It’s possible! But you had a great interview up until then, and it’s not like you slapped her at the end of it. I wouldn’t give up hope. (But if you don’t get this job, you will still have an amazing story to tell for many years.)

2. Which office should I choose?

I have been in a new job for about six months and have been sitting in a “transitional” office since I started. It is fairly spacious with five desks, but I only share it with one coworker who started around the same time as me. However, it’s right next to the printer and kitchen, which causes some noise and traffic. Plus, a few times a month we are joined by other people with no warning (usually for a couple of days), who sometimes need to take calls or meetings in the room.

Our department is growing and a couple of people are leaving, which leaves my coworker and me a choice for our more “permanent” office location. We can stay in our current office and remove the extra desks, as the department has acquired another room to accommodate the ad hoc visitors. Or we can move to another floor (away from our boss and break room but close to some others in our department) which has a smaller office.

My question to you is how much to value sitting close to the boss for “face time” versus having uninterrupted work (we are researchers so this is how we spend the majority of our day). The secretary of our department also pointed out that if we stay in our current room and the department continues to grow, they might end up putting more people permanently in our room. However I worry that if we move to another floor we might become “out of sight, out of mind.”

How often in a typical week do you have spontaneous unplanned contact with your boss? If it’s a lot, and if the contact often seems valuable to you, that’s potentially an argument for staying where you are. But if it’s just a couple of times a week and it’s mostly in passing (as opposed to long, substantive conversations that pop up organically), I’d lean toward moving. But you’ve also got to factor in what you know about your boss — is she someone who seems to prefer face-to-face contact or does she seem just as happy to use email? Does she like scheduling meetings, or is she more “I’ll pop by your office when I have time”? Is she an “out of sight, out of mind” type or is she on top of staying in contact with you and others she manages? What about those people in your department who are already on the other floor — how are their relationships with your boss? (You might even ask them for their perspective on your question.)

But also, know that a good boss isn’t going to give you less attention just because you move to a different floor. So if she’s a good boss, I wouldn’t worry much and would just go with whatever your own preference is, slightly weighted for however important ease of ad hoc contact is to you/your work.

3. Asking coworkers to stop commenting on my diet without revealing I have a chronic illness

I have a chronic illness that prevents me from gaining weight normally. Because of this, I have to eat an extremely high number of calories in order to maintain my weight, and an even higher number to gain weight. I am also very thin, again due to the aforementioned chronic illness.

What my coworkers see is me eating a seemingly ungodly amount of calories and never gaining weight, and they comment on it quite frequently. The comments range from “that looks good,” which I don’t mind; to “where does it all go?” which is fine; to “you’re so lucky, you can eat whatever you want and stay skinny,” which I do mind because if they knew the full extent of my health problems, they would absolutely not want to switch. I get that they mean it as a compliment, but it serves as a frequent reminder that I’m not normal. I know if they knew I had this condition, they would stop commenting on what I eat.

In my non-work life, this wouldn’t be a problem. I am very open about my illness and if someone comments on my diet, I just tell them about it up-front. But I’m wary of disclosing my illness at work, due to multiple instances of past discrimination. I work for the government in Canada, and there are protections against workplace discrimination due to disability, but I’m not a permanent employee yet so theoretically I could be let go at any time. Is there any way to get these comments to stop without announcing to everyone that I have a serious medical condition, or do I just have to suck it up?

Well … you can definitely try. It’s very reasonable to say something like, “I know you don’t mean anything by it, but I get really uncomfortable when people comment on my food or my body, so I’d be grateful if you wouldn’t.”

Frankly, you can also be more direct if you want to and instead of “I get uncomfortable,” you can frame it as “please don’t” or “I prefer you not.” If you’re comfortable with that more direct language, go for it! But lots of people aren’t, and if those formulations feel too chilly to you, you might find the one above easier to say.

You can also try something like, “You know, we’re all so focused on diet and bodies and I think it’s really unhealthy! I’m trying to be better about keeping that stuff out of my conversations.”

Now, will any of this solve it? Maybe. If you have mostly considerate coworkers who — like so many people — have been socialized to make these kinds of comments without thinking them through, it could. Or it might not; people are really weird about food. But I’d try it and see.

4. How much do I need to spend on my boss’s wedding gift?

So my boss invited me to their wedding. I didn’t feel comfortable declining the invitation, and now I’m spending a lot more than I’d like to on travel and accommodations. How much do I need to spend on a gift? It feels weird to spend $150 on a super-fancy kitchen gadget that I couldn’t afford even afford for myself. Should I go off registry so at least my boss won’t know exactly how much I spent? Will this be reflected in my year-end review?

Oh my goodness. You absolutely could decline the invitation and it would be fine, unless you work with a truly toxic and punitive boss who would punish you for something like this (which is not the vast majority of managers). If you haven’t already RSVP’d, you can simply cite a conflict with the date. And if I’m reading correctly that this is out of town for you, they’re probably not expecting you to RSVP yes anyway!

But if it’s too late and you’re going, a very small gift is fine. Not anywhere near $150. More like $20 or $30. If that means you have to go off registry, then that’s fine. And if you have other coworkers who were invited, ideally you could go in with them on one group gift so that you’re each paying $20 or, better, less. Frankly, I’d argue you don’t need to give a gift at all — gifts shouldn’t flow upwards, etc. — but if you’re going, you might feel awkward about not giving something. But if you’re not going, just a card is completely fine.

And under no circumstances should you worry this will in any way be reflected in your year-end review (again, not unless you have a truly horrific boss, like top 0.5% bad).

{ 420 comments… read them below }

  1. Nom Nom Nom...

    The food commenting thing comes up here every so often. I have learned so much. Intent vs. Impact.

    1. Zombeyonce

      I have such a hard time not saying things like OP’s coworkers. I grew up with a mom obsessed with food and food intake and who commented on absolutely everything she saw you eat. It became commonplace for me to have feelings about what other people ate in relation to how they looked and adding that filter between my brain and my mouth took a long time.

      OP, your coworkers’ comments are very likely more about them than you, so it would be a kindness to say something and then gently reinforce that what they’re saying isn’t okay. It’s not that they deserve leeway here, but giving them a bit of time to reorient their comments about others’ food without anger is good for everyone.

      1. valentine

        I would tell them about the illness, or they won’t shut up about it. It’ll be weird advice and six degrees from then on.

        1. Software Engineer

          You don’t have to give them a reason why it’s inappropriate to talk about your food specifically—it’s ALWAYS inappropriate to comment on other people’s diets and bodies without an invitation, so you don’t need to have a ‘good enough’ reason to ask them to stop

          It may be a habit that takes people a while to stop but you can absolutely tell someone to stop commenting on your diet and your body, period

          1. sacados

            Yeah, if the coworkers are unreasonable and keep commenting after being told to stop, then escalating to “Look, I have a medical condition which means I have to eat a very large number of calories to maintain my weight” might have an impact with the more stubborn. *If* OP is comfortable with that step.

            But OP says she is hesitant to disclose the condition due to fear of discrimination, which is TOTALLY understandable and she absolutely should not be expected to give any kind of reason for requesting normal polite behavior.

            1. Quoth the Raven

              Then again there’s people who would take the disclosure as carte blanche make comments about food in relation with LW’s health (“No wonder you’re ill if you’re eating THAT” and phrases along those lines).

              My go to phrase when anyone mentions what I’m eating is “You do know it’s not polite to comment on what people are eating, right?” which may be too abrasive in a work context, admittedly.

              1. ClashRunner

                My terrible ex-manager occasionally made inappropriate comments about my food choices—even singling me out among other colleagues eating the exact same thing. The first time she said something when I no longer reported to her, I looked in the eye and said “That was kind of rude”. Not the smartest in a professional environment, but I was very done with her behavior and it did result in HR meeting with her.

                1. sacados

                  I think that reply was perfect!
                  There’s nothing inherently unprofessional about calmly calling out rude behavior when it happens and since you said she wasn’t your manager at the time, you were free from any concerns about direct retaliation.
                  Go you!

              2. Cynthia

                Someone using the old “You DO know…” phrase when they’re telling someone what they don’t know is ruder than the initial comments. Please don’t do that.

                1. IndoorCat

                  Eh, it’s sending the rudeness back to sender. If it makes the commenter feel embarrassed, maybe that embarrassment will make them think twice before making an inappropriate comment about someone’s body and what they put in it.

                  It’s not always called for, but sometimes it really is.

                2. Lissa

                  I doubt it, though. I feel like using phrases like this that often get recommended online (“Did you just say that out loud?” “Wow!” “you DO know . . “) are great in theory, and certainly make for a great story, but are highly unlikely to actually effect change, much more likely to have the other person think you’re the weird one. Especially when it’s something where the social tenor sounds like it’d be the LW standing out as the odd one – if the coworkers DON’T think food commenting is rude, and most of them do it, they’re unlikely to all collectively decide this one person is actually correct.

            2. many bells down

              Yeah, my daughter has a similar condition and when she was *in the hospital* being fed through a tube for it someone still asked how she could “catch” whatever she had.

              The fact that she was in the hospital because otherwise she might DIE didn’t stop the comments.

              1. Clorinda

                Our society makes people irrational about weight. I hope your daughter is doing well.

              2. Le Sigh

                Someone said something similar to my great-grandma. She had terminal cancer and was at her son’s wedding — a bit of a final hurrah. They knew what was coming.

                She had always been tall and thin but was more so at this point. And a guest said, “oh I hope I get cancer!”

                I wasn’t at this wedding, but my family still tells the story. And it still pisses them off.

              3. OP 3

                LW #3 here, have also been fed through a tube at various points in my life. Fun all around! I hope your daughter is doing better now.

              4. RoadsLady

                My daughter theoretically could be in this position. Her personal condition right now is fine, but it’s not uncommon for others with her condition to be on feeding tubes to reach ideal calories.

            3. OP 3

              “Look, I have a medical condition which means I have to eat a very large number of calories to maintain my weight”

              This is exactly what I say to non co-workers. It’s the work environment that made me ask the question in the first place! Thankfully, I’ve found in the weeks that have passed since I wrote to Alison that acting politely disinterested and changing the subject has driven the comments way down.

        2. Asenath

          I wouldn’t tell them about the illness – first of all, OP doesn’t want to, and that takes priority, and secondly in many cases in which you want someone to stop doing something, giving a reason can be taken as an opening to continue discussing the issue and coming up with reasons why the comments about food are justified – “You have X? Oh, it really can’t be healthy to eat the way you are! You need to follow the eating program by this weirdo I found on Youtube, or the one followed by my second cousin who has a disease I think is similar!”

          It’s much better just to say something like “I think it’s unhealthy/it makes me uncomfortable to be talking about food/weight all the time”. The sensible sorts will stop, and those who obsess over other people’s food and weight won’t have any ammunition.

          1. Arts Akimbo

            “You need to follow the eating program by this weirdo I found on Youtube”

            + a million.

          2. OP 3

            LW # 3 here, and you’re spot-on with the strange and unhelpful diet/treatment recommendations.

            I mentioned this elsewhere, but I’ve found that the easiest way to get the comments to stop is to just non-committally acknowledge what they’ve said (“yep”, etc.) and then change the subject. The most direct? Nope. Effective? For me personally, yes.

        3. Liane

          If OP tells them about the illness, they might shut up about her eating and start back up with other Stupid to Rude comments, which mostly start with, “You’ll be cured if you —-” or “Have you tried —-“

        4. ceiswyn

          They won’t shut up anyway. The only thing that will change is that instead of ‘I can’t believe you can eat that and stay skinny’ it will be ‘I read yesterday that yoga/apple cider vinegar/a ketogenic diet can cure everything, you should try it!’

          This is probably not the improvement that OP was looking for.

          1. OP 3

            LW #3 here. This is so hilariously accurate. I’ve been recommended the most ABSURD treatment. PSA to all: If someone tells you about their chronic disease, do not. Recommend. Naturopathy. PLEASE.

            1. Jadelyn

              One of my favorite chronic illness shirts I’ve ever seen had a checklist that said “Yes, I’ve tried…essential oils / yoga / green smoothies / acupuncture” (or some list like that) and then below that “Have you tried…shutting up / minding your own business”

        5. OP 3

          Hi. I’m LW #3, and I’d like to explain why I don’t want to disclose my illness at work:

          Discrimination! I have literally been almost fired for disclosing my illness at a job. I had to get HR and a lawyer involved. I ended up staying employed, but since then I have been extremely gun-shy about telling anyone aside from a few trusted coworkers.

          As I said in the letter, in my personal life I am very open about being chronically ill. I have no issue correcting anyone’s assumptions about me. The issue I was having was specifically related to trying to dissuade comments while hiding my status as “chronically ill”. In all likelihood, my employer would be totally fine with me having a serious chronic disease, but I have no way of knowing one way or the other and my past experiences have made me super cautious. Workplace discrimination against chronically ill and disabled people is super fucking real, unfortunately.

        6. Quickbeam

          I worked in a cystic fibrosis clinic for young adults for years. This happened to them all the time. Even when they were dying, people would tell them how fabulous they looked, so thin. We are thin obsessed. I understand personal privacy but it might shut people up to say it’s a health issue.

          1. RoadsLady

            Yup. My kid has CF and our little parent community cheers our young ones on with weight gain because a good weight is so vital. And then we hear… You’re so skinny!

      2. OP 3

        Hello! I am LW #3.

        I am totally aware that their comments are about their own issues as opposed to mine. In fact, they mean them as compliment. I understand that due to our society’s fixation on skinny as not only a beauty ideal, but a health ideal, being able to eat whatever you want while remaining thin probably seems like the greatest thing ever. It’s just frustrating because in my ‘real’ life I can explain that I have this illness, and I don’t feel like I can do that at work. So really, my issue is more related to feeling like I’m hiding a huge part of my life at work? I don’t know, man. Chronic illness makes trying to live a basic, normal life extremely complicated.

        On a happier note, it’s been a few weeks since I wrote in and I have found that non-comittally saying “haha, yup” and changing the subject seems to be enough to dissuade the food comments. I was definitely overthinking it.

        1. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist

          Yay, happy for you!! Awesome use of the Grey Rock technique: getting toxic people to back off by consistently giving really boring answers (“yup”) to their obnoxious questions. It’s like, you’re not feeding their desperate need for attention/gossip/stimulation so they’re going to seek it elsewhere.

          (This does not always work, but it’s a joy when it does.)

          1. OP 3

            It was definitely a relief when it turned out that it actually was that easy to get the comments to stop.

            The sad thing is, these people aren’t usually obnoxious. They’re quite reasonable about literally everything except food and diets. Our society has such an unhealthy relationship with food. There’s so much baggage attached to food. It’s a real shame! As much as I hate being chronically ill, I am super appreciative that I don’t have hangups about food and weight.

    2. Orange You Glad

      I am in recovery for an eating disorder and I have escalating levels of “stop talking to me about my food/body” that I use:

      Level #1: “Let’s not talk about food & bodies, ok? Tell me about [subject change] instead!”

      Level #2: “I don’t like talking about food & bodies. How ‘bout we can the subject and you tell me about [anything else] instead?”

      Level #3: “I don’t discuss what I eat with anyone besides my healthcare professionals so it’s time to change the subject. What did you think about [something else]?”

      Level #4: “I’m really surprised you keep bringing up what I’m eating after I’ve repeatedly & deliberately changed the subject multiple times. Let’s agree to permanently put this topic to rest, ok? Ok. So about that [subject change] you mentioned yesterday…”

      1. Orange You Glad

        For me the key is to say “stop this” and then change the subject and KEEP MOVING the conversation forward.

        I don’t want their apologies. I don’t want their explanations of their “good intentions”. I don’t want any reasons why they were commenting on my food/body. I want to STOP talking about it completely so I say what I need to say and then don’t pause or slow down AT ALL.

        So far it’s worked out really well!

        1. Popsicle

          I have a close friend who is in recovery from an eating disorder.
          It wasn’t that hard for me to change some of the language I used around food so that it didn’t impact them.
          I think it can be more difficult in a work setting because so many people say things for something to say rather than for a reason. The not really thinking this through brain sifts through socially taught subjects, and one of those is food.

          It sucks that you have to have so many levels of response before some people get the message though.

          1. BethDH

            This is a really good point and now that I think about it, this seeking something light to say is the reason I often mention food at work (though always in the “that looks/smells good!” way). But if this is true for others, maybe OP can signal another good go-to topic like music, books, sports, etc. I’m sure there will be some people who are just oblivious or rude, but those who are just awkward (or like me, took a long time to realize that food being a safe topic for me doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone) will often be grateful for the conversational cue.

      2. Cynthia

        The problem is intelligent people don’t tend to handle the forced subject change well. It comes off as handling them like a child, and that’s probably why you have a progressive level of responses. People resist “don’t talk about what you’re talking about – I’m going to trick you into talking about what I want you to talk about!” and go right back to the original subject. Better to stick with it and give them real reasons why they should stop rather than trying to usher them past it when it hasn’t been fully dealt with.

        1. Ethyl

          I dunno, this is a real weird take on the scripts Orange You Glad offered. Adult humans can handle topic changes and short explanations like “sorry, I don’t talk about that” without getting hurt or upset or angry. If they DO get those things, that is really on them and is not a reflection that you don’t get to ask for what you need.

          Also to everyone advocating “just tell them about the illness/eating disorder,” really really no.

        2. Aquawoman

          I think people respond to the subject change consistent with their own sense of boundaries, particularly here where the script includes the explicit boundary requested. People who have reasonable boundaries will change the subject gracefully. I would think that intelligent people would not want to make their friends and acquaintances uncomfortable.

          1. Orange You Glad

            I 100% agree. It’s typically people with low emotional intelligence or awareness who continue to bring it up; the ones who don’t do boundaries very well.

        3. Princess PIP

          Or, these ‘intelligent’ people could tap into their emotional intelligence and recognize it would be disrespectful to push back on someone who very clearly does NOT want to remain on the subject. The requestor does not owe them an explanation to their satisfaction, period.

          1. Artemesia

            You’d think so but if the OP has to be this forceful everyone will assume she has an eating disorder and gossip about that. If I were her I’d probably be packing calories secretly e.g. drinking hi cal drinks in my coffee mug and minimize public eating with colleagues. Yes she should absolutely not have to do this, but if she is packing in calories where people observe it, she will not be able to evade the snoops without giving them more gossip fodder. Not wanting to talk about an issue is a red flag for snoops to dig further and speculate. Sucks, but there it is.

            1. OP 3

              “If I were her I’d probably be packing calories secretly e.g. drinking hi cal drinks in my coffee mug and minimize public eating with colleagues”

              LW #3 here. I do bring high calorie drinks in a thermos every day, but I have to eat even more on top of that. In the weeks since I wrote to Alison I decided to try just politely acting disinterested and changing the subject and it seems to have worked. I’m sure people are still curious, but they’ve been polite enough to stop commenting.

              1. OP 3

                I’m seeing now that maybe you were responding to the commenter who had an eating disorder, in which case disregard my comment!

        4. Lyra Silvertongue

          I don’t think of this as trying to “trick” someone anymore than you “trick” someone by tactfully not commenting on it if you see them embarrass themselves or something. To me, it’s a signal to the other person, a “this could get awkward and I’m signifying that by allowing us to quickly move on to something else” thing. It’s not like you’re trying to bait-and-switch a toddler or something – many intelligent people would understand that a rapid, non sequiter-eque topic change is usually done for everybody’s benefit.

        5. Observer

          No, no one needs to be given a reason to not talk about something like what they are eating in a social or work situation. The dubject does NOT need to be “dealt with” AT ALL, much less fully.

          And Orange is NOT “tricking” people into moving to a new subject. They are being very direct about it. They are saying “Do not do that. We can stop talking now, but if you want to chat let’s talk about xxx”

          Going right back to the original subject is not about “intelligent people” ignoring sneaky behavior. It’s about rude people who think that the subject THEY are interested in must take precedence, even if the person they are interrogating EXPLICITLY does not want to have this discussion.

        6. Name Required

          If someone knows another person doesn’t want to continue discussion a subject, and perceives it to be a “forcible” subject change and goes right back to the original subject … I don’t think this is an issue of intelligence, it’s an issue of entitlement and poor manners. In fact, I would argue that person is not very intelligent at all if they continue pressing on a sensitive subject, when it’s unlikely to be in their best interest to force a coworker to discuss their dietary habits when they are uncomfortable doing so. That kind of foot-shooting isn’t a sign of intelligence.

        7. OP 3

          I think it does depend on your tone when you change the subject.
          I mentioned this elsewhere in the thread, but it’s been a few weeks since I wrote to Alison and I’ve found that casually changing the subject after politely, but non-committally acknowledging their food comments has decreased the volume by a significant amount. But, as I also mentioned elsewhere, my coworkers are pretty reasonable people overall. My method might be less effective otherwise.

        8. Jadelyn

          I mean…I feel like an intelligent person will understand that kind of forced subject change to be basically a signpost of crossed boundaries and accept it with grace.

        9. Public Sector Princess

          “Better to stick with it and give them reasons why they should stop rather than trying to usher it past them when it hasn’t been fully dealt with”
          I politely disagree. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or to fully deal with their curiosity or comments in this situation. And an intelligent person is likely to recognize the topic change as indicating you don’t want to fully deal with what in this instance is just idle curiosity for any range of reasons.
          Persisting when someone does not want to talk about something, especially in this scenario, when the questioner has no stake in the answer, is not necessarily a sign of intelligence.

      3. Mockingjay

        Thank you. I am saving your remarks. I have a family member in recovery. We’ve talked a lot about how to deal with outside pressure and practiced scripts, but none are as simple and effective as what you wrote.

        Best wishes!

        1. Orange You Glad

          For your family member Mockingjay, it’s my experience that Level 1 with a cheerful, “Let’s not talk about food & bodies, ok? Tell me about [something else] instead!” works on 70% of people.

          And Level 2 covers another 20%.

          It’s the 10% that just can’t imagine NOT wanting to talk about food & bodies that Levels 3 & 4 with increasingly stern tone are for.

          Good health & recovery to them! Glad my scripts were helpful!

      4. OP 3

        LW #3 here. I’m sorry that you’ve had such a difficult time getting people to stop commenting on your diet!

        For me personally, expressing polite, non-committal disinterest (eg. “Yep, I am eating [insert food here] again”) and then casually changing the subject has worked. But my coworkers are generally pretty reasonable people aside from their need to comment on food all. The. Time.

    3. NapkinThief

      Yes, there are so many reasons not to comment on food choices/bodies!

      OP, it’s not necessarily your responsibility, but I think it is definitely worth it to push back in general against the culture of weight/diet talk that negatively impacts so many. You shouldn’t have to disclose your medical condition any more than someone in recovery for an eating disorder should have to disclose theirs, or someone who just comes from a different cultural background with different habits – we shouldn’t feel on trial for our eating choices at work.

    4. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

      I know! This blog makes me appreciate my coworkers – the most food talk is, “Oh dang, that looks good.”

      1. 2 Cents

        After reading so many things on here, “that looks good!” said sincerely is the only thing I say about food (so maybe OP’s coworker’s have ulterior motives when they say it?). And because I truly mean it. If it have a sad lunch (bc I didn’t plan or whatever) and someone else has a delicious-looking burrito, I’m going to say “wow, that looks good” because compared to my franken-sandwich, it does.

  2. Nonee

    I’m so sorry OP1 – I definitely had to smother laughter while reading this in the bathroom cubicle at work, but I sincerely hope you get the job. The interviewer may not hold it against you if she realises how mortified you are – any chance you could flick her a thank you email, and tell her how embarrassed you are?

    1. sacados

      Yeah, I think the interviewer probably won’t think it’s a big deal and it would be totally OK to just not address it like Alison suggests. But if the OP does want to say something and hasn’t sent a thank-you followup to the interview, then I think that would be the way to do it.
      Just a quick note saying thanks, it was so nice to talk to you, and add something lighthearted about the hug. Like I promise I don’t normally hug coworkers; or Sorry again about the hug, it was a reflex.

    2. Blue Eagle

      No, do not do this! Do not send her an e-mail telling her how embarrassed you are. She has probably already moved on and telling someone after the fact how “embarrassed” or “mortified” you are just reminds them of the negative interaction and makes you look worse and not better. Just keep your comments to the positives of the interview and leave it at that.

  3. triplehiccup

    LW 1, I think whispering OMG made it clear that you realized your mistake as it happened! I would be almost charmed in the moment, chalk it up to interview / inexperience nerves, and ignore it altogether in making my decision.

    1. Popsicle

      And I bet it’s a great story for the interviewer as well. Especially with the OMG.
      I think we can all relate to what you must have felt at some level.

    2. Jerseys mom

      Lw 1 – a year or so ago, I was working on a huge construction project and called a state regulatory agent to discuss on-site construction activities. Ended up leaving a longer message and end up saying, “ok, give me a call back, I love you” in a happy clear voice.

      We spoke later in the day, I quickly apologized and let her know that’s the tag line used when l’m leaving messages for family. She laughed and asked if she was now officially “family” and ended up saying the same to me on a message a couple weeks later. No harm, turned out funny.
      (PS, we’re both women).

    3. Errol

      I was thinking exactly this. Especially if it was a whispered OMG in the tone of WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING followed by you hastily exiting.

      There’s a very real chance she stood there for a moment, processed what happened, then laughed. I wouldn’t hold it against someone if they obviously realized their mistake while it was happening. It was a cereal in fridge milk in cupboard moment, they happen to everyone. At least this one you both get a funny story out of it.

    4. justcourt

      Or if LW whispered OMG in her interviewer’s ear while hugging her, like I’m picturing in my head, the interviewer might think she gives amazing hugs.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        LOL! This is amazing, and if I were the interviewer, I would be amused by the whole encounter.

      2. Filosofickle

        If anyone has seen Gravity Falls, I can totally hear Mabel saying this while getting a hug from her idol/crush because she’s just SO HAPPY.

  4. Rachel Greep

    OMG, #1 is like the episode of Friends when Rachel accidentally kissed Mr. Zelner after her interview at Ralph Lauren.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean

      I just watched that episode last night! Now I’m convinced the writers came up with it because it happened in real life
      Try not to beat yourself up too badly, OP#1. If anyone says they don’t have an embarrassing interview story, they are lying or have amnesia or have never interviewed. You are in good company. I accidentally insulted one of the people at an interview several months ago. I phrased something poorly and she took it as a criticism of her questions instead of me criticizing my answers. [When I replay it in my head, I answered perfectly and later chose not to accept the job. :-)]

    2. Jess the Kat

      At an interview many years ago, I went into the Men’s room accidentally. That would really have sucked if the man who had interviewed me was in there, so I’m glad that no one was in actually in there.

      1. HA2

        That sounds like splitting hairs. What’s the difference between “Great” and “Amazing”?

        Job hiring is always a competition and a search for fit, so an “amazing” resume for a particular position just means that it’s exactly what the interviewer is looking for, and better than anyone else applying. So for a 19-year-old applying to a retail job, that could be something like a history of several retail jobs, including responsibilities and measurable metrics that they did great on. Maybe language skills (knowing a language important in the area) or having significantly more knowledge of that business’s products than typical applicants, or something else to set the applicant apart.

    1. SS Express

      What?

      A 19 year old might not have the most impressive resume on earth, but it could certainly be amazing as far as resumes of 19 year olds go. Maybe her previous work experience was with Chanel, she speaks three languages and she won an award for a charity program she started. There’s a kid in Australia with his own actual donut store (he has staff there while he’s at school). Someone can be young and still have a good resume. It’s also really common in my experience for interviews to be “more of a chat” for retail jobs.

      And do you truly think gifts should only be given to people who can’t afford to buy things for themselves? If so, you’re welcome to make that your own gift-giving rule, but it’s not in line with what most people do – at least in my culture, it’s very common to give gifts at weddings, and that doesn’t make the recipient greedy or childish. (Telling someone who works for you that they have to buy you an expensive gift is obviously not on, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what happened.)

      1. Marty

        I didn’t see the original deleted comment but are posters taking swipes at 19 year olds now?

        Maybe I’m just getting old, but I see 19 year olds still as very young adults that still need guidance and the benefit of the doubt when it comes to office norms. Lord knows I was very blessed to have older coworkers with the same attitude back then!

        OP #1: I think you’re fine. So, you had a little goof. I think it also showed a bit of personality. Would this be more awkward if you had a male interviewer? Probably. Some people hate being touched and some people love hugs, even in a business context. I teach at a college and we hug for business introductions (same-sex) all the time. What’s done is done. Good luck and if that’s the worst thing you’ve done, count yourself as doing pretty good so far.

    2. Business Socks

      Is it just me or am I seeing a lot more comments removed for taking irrelevant swipes at a LWs career or financial status over the past few days? wth is going on?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Enforcement of the ‘be kind’ rule …the need seems to come in waves.

  5. lyonite

    OP1, if you haven’t read the update to the “I hugged the CEO” letter, you should, because that one was totally worse and ended up being completely fine.

  6. Heidi

    It’s a bit unclear to me what OP2 means by face time. If OP is interacting with the boss throughout the day, then staying might be the better choice, but if they are wondering if there is some benefit to the boss just seeing them and knowing that they’re present at work without interacting, I’d say probably not. It’s also interesting that both of them have to move or not. If one of them wanted to stay and one didn’t, could the one who stayed end up with an enormous office all to themselves? For me, I’d always be in favor of minimizing interruptions. If I need to talk to my boss, I can schedule a meeting.

    1. Bunny

      As someone that has an important role that I am very good at, when I first started my first inclination was to have more interaction with my boss. I learned that was a mistake, our passing conversations more often resulted in conversations that I was unprepared for about issues that the very fact that they were unaware of, reflected more accurately of my job performance.

      1. valentine

        OP2: Make the move, to remove the noise, foot traffic, and the uncertainty of who all is going to be in your space.

        1. Willis

          Yes, the uncertainty if I stayed in my current office would be my biggest motivator to move. If three more people could potentially be added, that could really change the dynamic compared to what you and your office mate currently have. Also, there may be some benefit to being on the same floor as other members department.

          1. The Other Dawn

            I’d definitely be on the side of moving so I can minimize interruptions and be closer to my team members. I’ve been in the situation where I’m the only one sitting on the opposite side of the floor and it made me feel very disconnected from the team. I’m now at a job where I’m with the team and I like it much better.

    2. Berlinerin

      OP #2 here – I mean the former, as my boss likes to pop in to randomly chat. Most of the time it will be after she gets off a phone call and will stop by to let us know of updates that could be relevant to our work. She seems to prefer this to having scheduled meetings, and I’ve found it does help to keep up to date.

      As far as moving (or not moving) with my coworker, we work on the same projects and generally get along really well. Most offices have two people, so I am more than happy to continue sharing an office with her rather than leave that part up to chance!

      1. Clever user name

        I had a similar situation when my whole office moved. I ended up farther from my boss who liked to randomly chat. Now I pop my head in her office, just to say hi & check in. You could do this on your way to/from the break room/copier.

      2. Jules the 3rd

        That is a pretty strong argument for staying put, unless she also wanders down to the area with the rest of the team and does the same.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        OP, I would err on the side of moving, unless you’re able to concentrate while listening to music. This may ultimately be about personal preferences, but in my experience, bosses who like to pop in will still do so (it just may be that fleeting convos are moved to email). But if I needed uninterrupted time to think, I’d favor an office with less traffic/noise.

      4. learnedthehardway

        I’d probably prefer to be close to the manager, if their communications style was the pop in, pop out kind of thing. You might end up being kind of isolated on another floor.

      5. Quinalla

        If the majority of your time is spent needing concentration and quiet, I would move, but have a plan in place to drop by the boss’ office once a day or something to keep that preferred line of communication open. Is your boss coming to that other floor now for other things (meetings, to see other employees, etc.)? If so, then maybe try to catch you boss when they will be on your floor already.

        I may be biased though as I work with people regularly that are 2+ hour drive away and if they were only a floor away I would not let that stop me from having in person conversations when needed. The 2+ hour drive does stop that quite a bit unless it is something that can be pre-planned and usually skype calls with cameras are the closest I can get.

    3. Artemesia

      This decision does take a lot of thought. If the OP moves then she needs to have a strategy for being noticed by the boss; maybe she sends a weekly update or schedules monthly check ins or gets in the habit of ‘running into’ the boss in the break room or visiting the old floor and always has an anecdote about work tee’ed up. e.g. ‘We just got this great note from (clientA); they were really thrilled with the event we planned for them last week.’ or ‘We got two grant applications out the door last month and we have heard from GRLPLX and they want us to submit the full proposal’ or ‘We just got the sales numbers for the team and we are up 10% over last year at this time’. In other words you need to not be out of sight, out of mind. It may be true that a good boss doesn’t neglect people on another floor but in reality it is common that informal contact shapes perceptions of people’s work and few bosses are competent managers on everything.

  7. Zombeyonce

    OP #2: I want to know if your group using any messaging apps like Slack. My department is about half remote, half officebound and even when we’re all in the office we gravitate toward communicating on Slack instead of stopping by offices. It’s become a great way to keep in touch and not just for office tasks; we have channels for photos, random notes, etc., and we send links to articles to each other and can respond almost exclusively in emojis from time to time. It’s a really great way to stay in the forefront of someone’s mind even if you don’t physically see them regularly.

    If you don’t use anything like this and your department is going to be split up by floors, I recommend asking if something like this can be implemented for ease of communication in your group.

    1. Berlinerin

      OP #2 here – We do not use Slack or any other messaging apps, although I’ve used them at old jobs. It’s a good suggestion (at least for my team members to keep in contact), but I am not sure my boss would hop on the Slack train.

  8. Zombeyonce

    #4

    I’d love to see what the top 0.5% of horrible bosses would put on a year-end review if they received a gift they didn’t deem worthy of their wedding from a subordinate.

    “Missandei’s obvious miserly behavior may spill over into her work, causing me to worry she may no longer work through her unpaid lunch and stay late off the clock. Therefore, I am rating her as Unsatisfactory because she surely will be.”

    “Jon is receiving the rating Needs Improvement because he really needs to work on his gift-giving skills.”

    “Sansa’s raise is denied this review cycle because she must not need more money since she’s clearly not spending it on anything important.”

    1. Harper the Other One

      The truly evil bosses would let gift giving affect the review AND cover it up by not putting anything in writing.

    2. pentamom

      They’d just make up something job related that the person was doing wrong out of spite, probably having to do with “attitude.” They wouldn’t actually discuss the gift-giving on the review.

  9. Kanye West

    On the food comments: I’d prefer to frame it as if it were boring instead of uncomfortable the latter of which leaves questions lingering about why it is uncomfortable (even though it shouldn’t)? Which in turn might trigger discussions between other people about why you don’t want to talk about it.

    I’d go with something like “I know it might look like something interesting to comment on but being on the receiving end of the comments every day is getting old. Can we please skip the conversations about my food in the future?”

    Or you could go with a Homer Simpson “BO-RING!”

    1. Samwise

      These feel a tiny bit aggressive? I’d go with a short hmm. Something super noncommittal or bland.

    2. OP 3

      I am the LW who wrote in about the food comments and this is exactly what I’ve done (not the “BO-RING” comment, but just “yep, this is the food I’m eating. Anyway, *moves on*”. It worked quite well! Turns out I was overthinking it due to my other hangups about being chronically ill at work.

  10. FastMetabolism

    OP3# I want you to know I’m standing in your corner and I hope you can shut down the comments successfully! If it works please please write back and let us know what worked.

    Big Internet Hugs
    – skinny person who wishes the world would stop commenting on peoples bodies, we all only get one and they need as much kindness as possible

    1. OP 3

      I am OP#3 and I am pleased to announce that I have shut down these comments pretty successfully! Polite disinterest and casually changing the subject has worked well for me.

  11. Cosmos Blossom

    OP#2: I agree with the suggestion to take your boss’s management style into consideration. Some bosses would rather you update them in person regularly, while others are okay with e-mail or the occasional heads-up.

  12. Staxman

    Wedding gifts aren’t required at all, regardless of the guest’s relationship to the bride and groom. I think Judith “Miss Manners” Martin in the Washington Post would back me up on this.

    1. Software Engineer

      Yes. And you don’t have to accept the invitation either—it’s an invitation, not a subpoena!

      Stay home, get a card to say something nice, and the best wedding gift you can get your boss is to keep things on track at work so they don’t come back from their honeymoon to a dumpster fire (or even worse get called by people in the office while on vacation)

      1. David

        Sorry, but according to the rules of etiquette, a wedding is the case where a gift is required. Check it out on the Emily Post Institute site.

        1. Lucy

          This is heavily culture-dependent – “rules of etiquette” are held by mutual consent within a community, and therefore subject to evolution.

          Also I think as it’s becoming more common for people to need to travel long distances for weddings, often the travel is the gift (given that it can easily reach four figures).

          As an alternative, in my circles it’s usual not to have a registry at all, particularly if you’re at the age/income level likely of a manager, and for your guests to give to charity in your name, and/or give a token gift – you might give a bottle of champagne at or shortly after the wedding, marked to be opened on their anniversary. If LW knows that there is a cause close to boss’s heart then she could make a donation and say so in a card without necessarily spelling out the dollar value.

        2. jam

          Emily Post and Miss Manners represent two different kinds of etiquette. Emily Post is all about Rules, and Miss Manners derives advice based on making people feel comfortable and respected. Neither is, so far as I am aware, God.

          1. LaurenB

            And it’s silly to expect AAM commenters to have a uniform level of “what should be spent on a wedding gift,” because the amount varies by region of the country and socioeconomic level. A $20 gift that might be appropriate in one context might be $200 in another.

            1. That Girl From Quinn's House

              Yes, my social group is mostly people who Move Around A Lot. We represented most regions of the US, plus 6? countries in Europe and Asia, at my wedding. On top of that, a good number of our friends were still in grad school, or had just finished grad school, so we had a good bit of budget diversity too.

              Some people gave material gifts, some gave cash. Some gave large gifts, some gave small gifts, some gave no gifts. Some gave the gifts before the wedding, some after, and some months after. It was all fine!

              The one thing that was a bit of a sticky problem for me, were the people who gave no gifts, only because I realized it was impossible to tell if they had chosen not to give a gift, or if they gave a gift and it got stolen, and now they think I’m really rude for not sending a thank you note.

        3. Parenthetically

          Anyone who “requires” a gift at their wedding needs a smack upside the head with some empathy and compassion. A lot of my friends don’t have an extra $5 in their bank accounts at the end of the month. Especially in a country where so many people are saddled with student loan debt AND medical debt, it is churlish as hell to demand (even tacitly) gifts from guests who you’ve ostensibly invited to celebrate and participate in your joy.

          Whatever the Emily Post Institute says, etiquette exists to ensure that society runs smoothly, with an emphasis on everyone’s comfort and well-being. If my friend cannot afford to buy a gift for my wedding, genuine politeness requires that their financial circumstances naturally take precedence over any social obligation of generosity on their part.

        4. Jack Russell Terrier

          Emily Post Institute also think you should send a gift if you RSVP your regrets. Facebook posts to this effect have been called out – because in what world is it etiquette to say that an invitation itself requires a gift? Emily Post is a business – they have courses etc, unlike Miss Manners. Although the next generation taking over Miss Manners gives a lot to be desired, her etiquette – not the recent discussions – is generally on point. I have many bones to pick with what Emily Post advises. Seriously – you are required to send a gift with your wedding invitation regrets?

        5. Naomi

          Imagine the boss writing in to an advice column to complain that an employee didn’t give them a wedding gift. Heck, let’s even remove the employer-employee relationship: imagine someone writing to an advice column to complain that a guest at their wedding didn’t bring a gift. Wouldn’t you think it was tacky as hell for them to complain about?

          1. Zombeyonce

            This is a regular occurrence in relationship advice columns I read and it’s always called out by the columnist as a terrible expectation.

          2. Cupcake

            Over the years I have MANY clueless people write to advice columns complaining about not receiving a wedding/birthday/etc gift or receiving one that they feel is not as expensive as it should be.

    2. jam

      We invited my husband’s coworkers to our wedding, because it was local for them, and we had some longer distance people decline, and it’s a chummy group who would go out for meals now and then so it didn’t feel weird to do so. Plus they’re all peers so none of this boss pressure. A couple of them gave us small gifts (a funny tea towel and a water pitcher respectively), and a couple more gave us a cash gift jointly with their partners and another coworker who couldn’t come. It was very sweet and completely, totally unnecessary. Not all the work people gave us anything, which was what we expected.

      It sounds like LW has already RSVP’d and committed to spending beyond their comfort level, which is unfortunate. I think s/he should just write a nice message in a card. I can’t quite imagine inviting employees as part of a gift shake down, but between reading AAM and A Practical Wedding I know there’s all kinds of crazy around this. If the boss is that kind of crazy s/he will be just as offended by a card as by a token present (trivet? picture frame?) as by an “insufficient” cash gift. Whereas a reasonable boss probably doesn’t expect anything from their employee, and if they do notice the employee didn’t give them anything* certainly won’t let it harm the person’s relationship in the office. Given those possibilities I’d say default to what you can afford, i.e. don’t spend any more on this wedding.

      * One thing about registries is that it can become a blur who has or hasn’t given something. Again, someone who is determined to be obnoxious will be on top of it, but you can’t help that.

    3. Koala dreams

      The etiquette rule I learned (not in the US) is that you would give a gift based on your relationship with the bride/groom, not based on being invited to the wedding. So if it’s someone close to you, you would put more effort or money into the gift, and if it’s someone more distant, you might just get them a card. In this case I might just give them a nice card and a symbolic gift (flowers, a bottle of wine if they drink alcohol, a gift certificate to a charity).

      1. LaurenB

        That’s the etiquette rule in the US, too. It’s based on how close you are and how much you personally have to spend. Of course I’m going to give more to my niece who I watched grow up than to my coworker who is pleasant and all but not family! There are some subcultures where you are supposed to mentally tally up what you think the plate costs and give a gift equal to that, but other subcultures find that rule unspeakably tacky and nonsensical, because it means you give less to people who don’t have a lot of money to entertain and more to people who do … And if I’m going to go out of my way to give a bigger gift than I normally would, it would be to the people who are starting out with very little, not to the people who already have parents who can afford the Ritz.

    4. doreen

      Only partially – she does indeed say that a wedding invitation/announcement is not an invoice. But she also says there’s a catch – you give a gift to indicate that you care about the couple and you shouldn’t be attending the wedding if you don’t care about the couple , so those who attend give gifts. This is when she advises guests – like any other advice column, the advice differs depending on who it’s being given to. When she advises brides/grooms, she stops at “an invitation is not an invoice”

    5. Not Alison

      They may not be required but deliberately not giving a gift is usually seen as a slap in the face to the couple being married (with the possible exception for those having to spend alot of money on transportation and hotel to the wedding).
      Do not go to a wedding without a gift (and don’t take a year to give the gift either). If you can’t afford a gift, send your regrets and a nice card.

      1. Agent J

        A slap in the face seems harsh for an etiquette rule. Nowdays, people have very different takes on what is appropriate/expected for their wedding. O think Alison’s advice is great, especially this is not a person relationship but a professional one.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It’s not true that it’s a “slap in the face” not to give a gift, and in my experience, older generations still observe the one-year rule. How a gift or non-gift is received all depends on your relationship to the couple. That’s especially true for OP, who’s likely only attending because they felt like they had to (not because they have a close relationship to their boss).

        Someone’s attendance at one’s wedding is gift enough—reducing it to a transactional relationship or mandatory gift grab is uncouth.

      3. Dahlia

        So the entire purpose of your wedding is to get gifts, then? You don’t want to have Great Aunt Martha who lives in 5 dollars and a shoestring a month to celebrate with you?

        That seems… unpleasant, to me, but I’m aro and don’t want to ever get married so maybe I just don’t get people who do.

        1. My name really is Karen

          Twenty-four years later, I can tell you whether someone attended my wedding but in most cases I cannot tell you what gifts most people gave me. The exceptions are things that were specialized for us (framed embroidery with our wedding date, etc.); I have no recollection of who didn’t give us a gift, even though I know there were some folks for whom that was true.

      4. Le Sigh

        Oy, this “rule.” This is so ridiculous and gross. While I appreciated the gifts we received, plenty of my guests didn’t give gifts and I could not care less. Just because my spouse and I decided to throw a big party and get married does not mean it’s a summons for gifts. I don’t need people to give me a blender as a cover charge to get into my wedding.

        Also, regardless of travel (which can get $$), I don’t know what my guests’ circumstances are and it’s not my business. And it’s silly to get into a game of guessing who can and can’t afford a gift, and whether I deem the reason acceptable.

        And if I have to choose between my friends and family coming to the wedding and getting a new set of tupperware, I want them at the wedding! Isn’t that the point? To celebrate with people you love?

      5. Burned Out Supervisor

        IMO, gifts are not expected for any celebration for adults (YMMV), even a birthday party. Gifts should be a wonderful surprise and not compulsory. Most etiquette sites will even state that it’s gauche to put your registry info in with the invitation. People get really weird about weddings, but they’re really a party hosted by the couple to share their happiness with their friends and aren’t a cash grab.

      6. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

        I don’t get this. Why take offence that people came to celebrate with you and enjoy a fun party but didn’t bring you a present? My coworkers that came to my wedding didn’t bring gifts and I was so relieved – I was worried they’d feel obligated!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood

      Are any other co-workers going? If yes id suggest all of you go in together on one bigger item that could seem meaningful or spun as a laugh. I’m thinking of a long ago manager who talked a lot about “blending cultures” of two merging companies… I’d have gone in on a blender for her g or sure.

    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I was coming here to say this. OP needn’t give a gift at all (a card isn’t fine). If other coworkers are attending, I recommend crowd-sourcing the gift (i.e., each chip in $10 to get something you like and think is appropriate).

    8. Mockingjay

      I went to my boss’s wedding a few years ago. I got a couple of simple silver picture frames they could use for wedding photos. It’s my go-to gift for obligation* weddings. Inexpensive and pretty much goes with any decor.

      *you know, those weddings of distant cousins or colleagues. You feel you have to make an appearance, but there are 15 other more fun places you’d rather be.

    9. Artemesia

      Most people believe that a gift is given when you accept a wedding invitation; if you don’t a card suffices and only relatives or close friends whose weddings you can’t attend get a gift. It is odd in our culture to attend a wedding and not give a gift.

      The LW should have declined with a ‘have another event, but best wishes for your happiness.’ If the wedding is out of town the boss was undoubtedly not expecting them to accept anyway. If they have already accepted then joining with others to give a joint gift or a smaller gift not on the registry sent to the bride ahead is the way to go. Try to think of something you yourself use and love — perhaps a kitchen item and send it with a note like ‘I have always loved using the grmflhopper myself and hope you will find it useful in the kitchen too.’

  13. Kate

    For OP3– hopefully it will never come to this, but to assuage you (and provide some poor soul who is searching for guidance on a similar issue in the middle of the night months from now) :

    Even if you aren’t a permanent Government of Canada employee, you are still covered by the Public Service Enployment Act (PSEA) and you are still entitled to union protections (even if it doesn’t always feel like it). If you don’t know which union you are in, it usually corresponds to the acronym at the beginning of your position classification (AS, PM, EC, etc) You can google your two-letter code and “bargaining agent” and find out which one it is. While some are better than others, the GoC bargaining agents are very experienced with assisting in these types of cases, and with the exception of one, the employee-union relationship isn’t anything like what you hear about in the US.

    The GoC takes discrimination on the basis of disability VERY seriously. If you’re interested, take a gander through the back cases of the Federal Public Service Labour and Employment Relations Board (FPSLREB). I would say the majority of cases actually have to do with discrimination on he basis of disability. If the guy who punched his boss in the face can get his job back, you should be thoroughly safe :)

    1. OP 3

      Hi, I am OP 3 and this is super helpful. Thank you so much.
      I also hope it never comes to this (it doesn’t seem to be heading in that direction, thankfully), but this is still extremely useful information to have. Again, thank you!

  14. PurpleMonster

    I had a workmate who would bring in interesting lunches every day. She’d eat at her desk so she could go home early. My boss and I got into a pattern of saying ‘so what is it today? Wow, that’s cool, so much more interesting than (whatever we had).’ Anyway, she rightly got sick of it and directly said something like ‘please stop commenting on my lunch. I bring it every day, and I bring nice lunch. Thanks.’

    And yeah, it was awkward, because she was new and we didn’t know her and we were just trying to make conversation. But damn if we didn’t stop.

    I learned a lot about being direct from her – sometimes it was to the point of being abrasive but that was just her style, and after a while I quite liked that she didn’t skirt around the point or bury the lede.

    1. Popsicle

      I used to be this person. I was ALWAYS asked what I was eating, and there were comments about how good it looked or smelled, and often the quantity. It was always too much or too little.
      My standard response became “leftovers”. Often with an uncomfortable dead pan gaze to shut down any other talk.
      I once told a manager they too could eat lunch like this if they learned to cook, before thinking about what I was saying. My internal organs tensed in horror. Thankfully they decided I was joking. *bullet dodged, more care given in the future*
      Now I’m a lunch skipper and everyone gets to gasp in awe at my desk drawer full of snacks for me to graze on.
      All comments about what anyone is eating at work suck.

    2. OP 3

      I’m OP 3, and this is definitely not the approach I would consider taking! But I’m glad it worked for her.
      I usually try and assume that coworkers don’t mean to be annoying/rude/insensitive with their comments until proven otherwise. In my case, polite disinterest (I have typed “polite disinterest” so many times in this thread– I apologize to all) and changing the subject seem to have done the trick.

  15. nonnynon

    LW 4 – If this helps, I recently attended by boss’s wedding and never got a gift. In fact, when they were filling out their financial disclosure form regarding gifts they received I was helping and all of a sudden blurted out “Crap I never ot y’all a gift!!”. They started laughing and explicating said not to get anything and that they were simply happy I came at all. (even got a plus one). So I really wouldn’t worry too much about it. Quite frankly if they are the type of boss who would know you in a performance review for not giving a gift, it’s probably a job that you may want to think of moving on from.

    However, if you do want to give something easy, I typically give a go-to type of gift. Assuming they celebrate Christmas (though it might work for other situations) that people still love. I get a silver or crystal Christmas ornament (you can find some decent/decently priced ones on Amazon) and then have it engraved with the couple’s initials and date of the wedding. I get more compliments on something I may spend at the most $50 on than I have ever received on something coming from a registry.

    Side note: apologies if this posts more than once, I can’t find where the last one went thorough.

    1. Lucy

      I think the ornament idea is really lovely for a couple who celebrate Christmas. Giving ornaments more generally can be difficult (obligation to display) but Christmas trees usually have dozens of ornaments so another one or two can be squeezed in. If the couple doesn’t particularly care for the style they can hang it on a branch out of their eye line and it’s only for a few weeks a year, but they will still have that moment of “awww, nonnynon gave us this for our wedding” when it comes out of the box in early December.

      You’ve given me a little warm glow, thanks!

    2. Jack be Nimble

      Oh that’s genius. Totally stealing that one!

      Also, if anyone is ever in a simar boat trying to come up with a baby shower gift: get a copy of a picture book you loved as a kid and write a note to the effect of; “This was my favorite when I was small, and I hope little Calvin enjoys Hamster Huey as much as I did!”

      1. Harper the Other One

        Seconding both the ornament for the wedding gift and the picture book for baby showers! Plus, in my case, I fully believe EVERY generation should be introduced to “The Paper Bag Princess.”

      2. doreen

        The book idea is apparently popular for baby showers- when I was looking for invitations, most of them had coordinating cards asking guests to bring a book .
        I guess it’s a replacement for a wishing well.

        1. Overeducated

          I think the trend now is to ask for a book instead of a card, so you are supposed to bring a book plus a gift. As someone who likes giving and receiving favorite books AS gifts, I kind of hate this trend.

          My mom’s wedding gift strategy for couples she isnt super close to has long been nice handmade Christmas items from a company in our town – but she buys them in even numbers, “just in case.” The cynicism cracks me up.

          1. CanCan

            > but she buys them in even numbers, “just in case.” The cynicism cracks me up.

            Oh, that’s why my ex’s sister gave us a pair of little Le Creuset pots for our wedding! Dang, I should have made my ex leave one of them behind when he left!

      3. Parenthetically

        I LOVED the books we got when our son was born, especially if people took the time to inscribe them — “To Baby Brackets, with love from the Jones family, June 2017. May this book bring you many hours of joy” takes just a minute to write but adds so much meaning to the book.

    3. EPLawyer

      I used to do something similar. I would get a cute set of inexpensive candle holders and attach a note about using these on “date night” (I worded it differently). Meaningful, yet inexpensive.

      I get the pressure you felt about accepting. What’s done is done. Unless your boss invited you to increase the number of gifts, a nice card will be fine. If your boss is at all decent, they know you spent a lot on travel for the wedding, they won’t expect an expensive gift too.

      An invitation is not an invoice — that is directed at all the folks who think that the price of the gift should equal the cost of that person’s meal at the reception. Seriously I had one friend in law school who was angry because some people who traveled to her destination wedding didn’t give a gift after all the happy couple spent on the wedding. I told her in no uncertain terms that was not how it worked. You invite people you want to celebrate your happiness with, they attend to celebrate said happiness.

    4. Some Sort of Management Consultant

      “Financial disclosure form regarding gifts”?
      What’s that?
      Is it something typical to your industry? Do you have to do it every time you get a gift?

      1. doreen

        The person who wrote that probably has to disclose certain gifts and sources of income- it’s typically government jobs over a certain level or lobbyists but I suppose a private company might require something similar form people who make purchasing/contract decisions. I have to disclose gifts from anyone who is not a personal friend or relative- and if I list a gift from a treatment program, I’m damn sure the ethics agency will be looking into how many people I referred there.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It’s super common when you work in government because of ethics rules. I now work for one of the state university systems, and I have to report gifts to verify that my research is independent.

    5. Falling Diphthong

      Other inexpensive things:

      Food analogy–food is especially nice if it’s something fancier than the giftee would usually buy for themselves. Like a $30 box of good chocolates–I can afford to spend a random $30, but I usually wouldn’t do it for the fancy small batch candy, or the fancy soda, fancy cheese, etc. If someone else does, it’s a nice gift. An indulgence where I’m usually practical.

      That’s why the picture frame is a go-to: marrying (or kid-having) people are about to have more pictures to display, so it’s practical, and a nice frame will cost more than you would spend on just getting some basic frames at Target for yourself, while still being way less than $100. We still have a Pooh picture frame with a baby picture of my daughter. Other everyday things (like the candle holders) can be much nicer than the practical baseline model you might instinctively reach for when shopping for yourself, while still being not that big a hit to your budget.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This is such a lovely idea for couples who celebrate Christmas. Heartfelt yet affordable for the gift-giver.

      I’m a huge fan of the engraved (wedding) keepsake box. It’s usually $30-50, you can get the couples’ names and wedding date engraved, and it looks incredibly expensive without actually being so. I’ve seen folks do something similar with crystal champagne flutes (but crystal flutes are independently expensive). For a scotch-loving couple, I did it with whiskey tumblers, and it was well below $50 for the glasses and engraving.

      It’s amazing how engraving something can make an otherwise low-cost gift more meaningful and valuable to the couple.

      1. Observer

        It’s amazing how engraving something can make an otherwise low-cost gift more meaningful and valuable to the couple.

        If it’s something that you can reasonably expect them to use, this makes a lot of sense actually. Because for most people, the evidence that you thought about THEM when you got the gift makes a huge difference.

    7. IT Squirrel

      I’m off to a wedding soon and decided to get one of those “One Line a Day” journals – my thinking being they can put in a memory everyday and it’ll last 3/5 years, or if they don’t want that commitment they can just put in the extra special days every now and then and have it last until their little human is older – and she can look back over it and see family events they might otherwise forget/not remember.

  16. Rez123

    #1 Reminds me of Friends when Rachel kissed the boss. Im’s orry OP, it’s awkward but I don’t think it’s that bad.

  17. MistOrMister

    OP3, I would suggest giving your coworkers a sort of vague explanation, if you were comfortable with it. Something along the lines of, “due to my metabolism I have to eat copious amounts of food just to maintain a thin frame and it’s really trying/exhausting/etc., so it would be great if people would stop telling me how lucky I am.” That way you’re not mentioning your disability at all in a way that could come back to haunt you. But you’re still getting the pount across that this is something that is difficult for you. One can only hope at that point people would have the courtesy to back off.

    And this serves as a reminder to me to keep my comments to myself! We had donuts or some such at work one day and I commented that I have to watvh my waistline, and a slender coeorker commented the same. To which I replied something like, you are half my size, you’re fine! Looking back, that was rudely dismissive. Plus we really do not have any idea what most people are going through and it is so easy to inadvertently cause someone distress by making comments that might seem valid but are way off base b/c of lack of information. I hope letters like this can remind us to try to be more mindful in our conversations.

    1. Parenthetically

      You’re so right. It’s just so ingrained, isn’t it, to comment disparagingly about our bodies when it comes to the choices we make around food! I recently started following a few instagram accounts related to eating disorder recovery and intuitive eating, and I’ve found the scripts they provide for situations like the one you mentioned SO helpful. Switching from body-centric food talk/choices/thinking to body-neutral food talk/choices/thinking is hard but really valuable IMO.

    2. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist

      Yeah no definitely don’t do this. It will just lead to more questions. Also, it hints at the idea of health issues enough that people will latch on to that, and these coworkers seem like the type to get really hyped and rude about it (if you just came to my ESSENTIAL OILS & MINDFULNESS YOGA WITH LLAMAS class, then you’d have more energy!!!!)

    3. OP 3

      OP 3 here. I managed to get the comments to slow down and almost stop by just acting disinterested in a polite way and changing the subject. It’s worked so far!

      I’m glad you came to the realization to not comment on other people’s bodies. I understand where it comes from- it is so ingrained in our culture to obsess about food and hate our bodies. For me the complication comes from the chronic illness thing. Otherwise I would have no problem going off on my soapbox about how we should all try to stop hating our own bodies.

  18. Mookie

    Good lord, why in the world would a boss invite a subordinate to a destination wedding? That negates the guiany prevailing etiquette regarding a gift (and I disagree that gifts are universally obligatory).

    1. WellRed

      Well, it might be out of town but that doesn’t make it a Destination Wedding. I’m surprised they invited the employee, though.

      1. CreativeNameHere

        I’m curious about this whole situation. Like, is it a small office with only 4-5 employees that are very close and get along very well? Then I understand the boss inviting everyone, because (maybe?) those people are important in the boss’ life and the boss wants them at their special day, or they didn’t want to invite only 2-3 of the people and leave the other 1-2 out. If this boss is a reasonable person, then the invite comes across like a kind thing to do; if they’re not a reasonable person, then it comes off as a power play. And having already RSVP’d yes makes things tougher, because backing out is certainly more noticeable than simply declining in the first place. But I think do a $20 gift would be too cheap for a wedding. It doesn’t have to be $150 but someone suggested something around $50 and I think that would be more appropriate. Not because it’s your boss–assuming you have a reasonable boss–but because it’s someone’s wedding and that’s the etiquette.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          See the posts above that say that is not in fact the etiquette – the etiquette is the gift costs vary based on the closeness to the people being married and how much the gift giver can afford. A $20 gift for OP’s boss (not her mother, sister, best friend, organ donor, etc.) is fine.

    2. Falling Diphthong

      My guess–because you should definitely feel free to turn down the destination wedding–is it’s a longish drive, maybe involving a hotel for practical reasons.

      1. Parenthetically

        I’m definitely of the opinion that an invitation is not a subpoena, and I invited people accordingly! I knew plenty of folks wouldn’t be able to make it, but wanted to invite them as a symbolic gesture — “you matter to us, we’d love for you to be there but absolutely understand that you can’t!” We were sure to make it clear to people that we absolutely understood that, for many folks, it was just going to be too far.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device

          Someone I know said something like “It would be great to have you at our wedding, but I know it’s a long and expensive trip; if I send you an invitation will that feel like an obligation?” Because she does know people who would think either that they had to go even if they couldn’t afford a plane ticket, or that a physical invitation meant they had to send a gift.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Ooo, I like this script. It’s very thoughtful while maintaining warmth.

          2. Cercis

            Father in law freaked out that we didn’t have his wife’s (husband’s step-mother) mother on our list. 1) We’d made it clear that we knew it wasn’t a definitive list which is why we’d asked the parents to look over it and 2) I’d never met her and husband had only met her once, so it felt like a gift grab to send her an invitation. But because it was important to FIL, we did send an invitation. And she couldn’t come (of course, she lived 4 states away), but it made FIL happy and since my mother was unhappy about the whole wedding, it was worth it.

  19. spaceinyerface

    OP #4- My go to when I can’t afford something in the registry is to get the couple a gift card in whatever amount I can reasonably afford at the place they are registered. That way they don’t end up with something they don’t want or need, plus presumably they’re not going to get everything they registered for and most places offer the couple a discount on leftover registry items and then they can use the gift card toward the purchase of one of those items. I hope that helps a little!

    1. Asenath

      I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation, and not sent a gift – I think a gift is for a couple you are close enough to personally to want to give something to.

      But in any case, I agree, a registry is not compulsory. I remember when I was very young and poor getting an invitation to a wedding, and feeling obliged to use the registry to choose my gift (I wanted to give a gift because both the bride and groom were good friends). I’m sure they never realized it, but I felt awful because the only gift I could possibly afford was the smallest and cheapest dish in the china they chose! I could have gotten something nice that wasn’t on the register for the same money – and nowadays, that’s probably what I would do.

      But I wouldn’t accept an invitation to a wedding of people I only knew at work, and wasn’t close to socially or personally. I might send a card and maybe a token gift, depending on whether or not I had a warm working relationship with the couple, but giving gifts to bosses has all kinds of possible downsides resulting from the confusion of personal and professional.

    2. Parenthetically

      Yes! We were so grateful for the gift cards from the places we’d registered!

      1. 653-CXK

        That’s precisely what I did when I gave my brother and SIL a $100 gift card. They used it in Hawaii for their honeymoon…they loved it.

        I’m not married, but if I had a wedding, your presence there would be much more appreciated than a gift that either Mr. and Mrs. 653-CXK are not going to use, was a choice between their electric/gas/student loan/rent payment and not disappointing us, or anything else. In fact, we would state “no gifts” or ask you to donate to your favorite charity. And if you couldn’t come to the wedding, but send a card and offer to make it up later, that’s fine too. We wouldn’t think any less of you.

        1. Parenthetically

          a choice between their electric/gas/student loan/rent payment and not disappointing us

          Freaking AMEN. This is what so many folks in this thread just are not getting — for a lot of people, that’s the choice. Come to the wedding with no gift but continue to pay my bills, or come to the wedding WITH a gift but then have to spend the next 6 months doing the Credit Card Balance Shuffle? Hmmm. Tough call.

          1. 653-CXK

            Believe me, when I had to pay student loans, $100 was a Big Deal, and getting those nastygrams of “why is your payment late?” was incentive enough to pay them first. I would rather be poor and current than spend money and get shut off/dunned/late fees/credit limit decrease/credit rating drop.

  20. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

    OP 3, I have the same problem as you do. I just canNOT gain weight…..in fact, I had been over 100 lbs. for a few weeks and thought I had finally made it, but yesterday found out I’m back down to 98 lbs., despite eating any/everything in sight and lots of it. I sympathize with your plight! (My doctors regularly refer to me as “malnourished” in my medical records. Niiiiice.)

    Unlike you, however, I have no problem telling folks I have a metabolic disorder which makes it very difficult for me to gain weight. Invariably, this leads to them telling me “OMG you are like SOSOSOSOSO lucky!” I then remind them that being underweight is just as dangerous as being overweight, perhaps moreso (the way their faces change expression–almost immediately–becomes its own reward). Occasionally, I have to spell out that once I get to 93 lbs. the hospital it inevitable because at that point there just isn’t enough of me to support….me. Invariably, the subject is never broached again by that person.

    This does involve sharing information that you might not be comfortable sharing. Would you perhaps be comfortable with using something like what I say, a general “metabolic disorder” situation where you don’t have to give the gory details???? It really does shut people down pretty quickly. I’ve found that, anytime I *don’t* give the details, folks are still and always making comments about my weight so (for me) it is ultimately easier to endure 2-3 minutes of uncomfortable (for me) conversation because it shuts down all future conversations about that subject.

    It also results in folks sharing food with your more often than normal! (Looking for a bright side for you!)

    1. Canadian Attorney

      OP 3, a close friend of mine has a similar chronic illness. She is so slender she was initially hospitalized for anorexia, until they realized she was eating a lot and just not metabolizing. It’s scary and not cool at all and so many people make completely uncalled for comments (“you know, most men like women with a bit more meat on that bone…” WTH people, but also a lot of “OMG you’re so lucky!” um, no).
      She now goes with “I have a condition that prevents me from metabolizing food. It’s not fun or easy to manage so I would prefer if you didn’t comment on my weight”. It shuts most people up, and if people press she usually goes with “I would prefer not to discuss this at work”.

      1. CanCan

        The “most men” comment is horrible! It either assumes that she’s looking for a man (and not gay, or already attached, or happily single), or if she does have a man in her life, this judges her for not being “pleasing” enough to him. Ugh!!!

      2. OP 3

        A big “YIKES” to the comments your friend has received. I’ve definitely gotten those as well. As I said in the letter, I have no issue shutting it down bluntly in my personal life with “I have a chronic, progressive disease that could literally kill me! I would trade with you ANY DAY *incomprehensible swearing*!” but at work I don’t want to get into that for a variety of reasons.

        I’ve instead opted for politely changing the subject.

    2. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist

      saying you have a “metabolic disorder” is basically disclosing an illness/disability and OP doesn’t want to do that.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Yes, I believe I acknowledged that. I was looking at it as the quickest and most benign way of shutting folks down completely. I hate disclosing my medical issues also, but sometimes some folks get very “naggy” about food. I guess it depends which one bothers someone more: disclosing or dealing with the comments. Personally, I’d rather disclose (and really, saying a metabolic disorder isn’t so bad compared to some other medical conditions) than deal with the daily comments. But that’s me.

        1. Observer

          Well, the OP made it clear that they do NOT see this as a “benign” way to shut it down, because of past experience with discrimination.

    3. OP 3

      OP 3 here. For me personally, this method isn’t the best because I’m wary about disclosing a serious medical condition at work.

      It’s been a while since I wrote to Alison, and instead of explaining anything to my coworkers I’ve started non-committally acknowledging their comments (eg. “yes, I am eating a massive bag of chips”) and then changing the subject. It’s worked quite well so far.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Maybe then instead of saying s metabolic disorder, you could just phrase it as a fast metabolism (for those who want to know where you put it). I’ve used that one too. When the other person comes back with “You are SOSOSOSOSO lucky!” ask them if they’ll buy your groceries for a month. :) I go broke trying to gain weight.

  21. Not So NewReader

    OP #3. People act so knowledgeable about food when they actually aren’t. Because of health issues I changed to eating very simple meals. I had a boss who got stuck on my weight loss with constant comments. So one day I made my lunch and I made her the exact same thing. I gave it to her. I know for a fact she could not finish it as it was a LOT of food. But she had to pretend like she ate all of it to give me back my container. After that I had no more comments about what I was eating.

    My point is odd stuff works. Other techniques I have used include one word answers:
    Them: “Wow, that is a lot of food.”
    Me: “yep.”
    Them: [wanders off because of lack of conversation]

    Them: “Gosh, you eat healthy!”
    Me: “yeah, I try.”
    Them: [they wander off again… because of no conversation]

    You can also respond with some bland such as, “Eh, this is just what I do. That’s all.” Statements like this give them nothing to work with, it’s hard to keep the conversation alive.

    Try to keep in mind that when a person follows their diet plan, other people feel guilty about not eating good foods themselves. It is almost like we are eating healthy “at them”. Some folks personalize it way too much. Take a look at the person talking to you and see if you notice little things that indicated they are doing their own self-reflection and their comment has very little to do with you.

    A little while ago, I was in the grocery store. I had put all my stuff on the conveyor belt. The lady behind me commented, “Gosh, you eat healthy!” I simply said, “I try.” Which is the truth, I can chow down junk food like anyone else. I try to get it right most of the time. This has happened to me a couple times over the decades where someone in line notices what my choices are. I don’t think we can prevent people from commenting. I do think we can prepare bland responses that cause the conversation to dry up.

    1. Cercis

      I’ve noticed that the relatively “healthiness” of my grocery basket depends upon where I’m shopping. Some stores I only go to for the healthy food, because they have the best selection and best prices. Other stores are where I buy the junk food (which, actually, isn’t really for me – I’m usually buying for a workshop, but I get to eat the leftovers).

    2. OP 3

      “You can also respond with some bland such as, “Eh, this is just what I do. That’s all.” Statements like this give them nothing to work with, it’s hard to keep the conversation alive.”

      This is exactly what I’ve done, (“yep, this is what I’m having for lunch today!”. It turns out that dissuading the comments was much more simple than I’d made it out to be in my own mind. Thanks for your advice.

  22. Brene Brown Fan

    OP3, If I were you, I’d probably just come out and tell them about the illness in one line. Vulnerability is a good thing and helps people look beyond their assumptions and bias.

    I usually don’t talk about this but I am on a prescribed diet, for a Chronic Medical Condition and have to eat a large amount of calories whether I like it or not and would fall very sick if I don’t eat. I’d rather not talk about this anymore and hope you understand. On repeat mode every time some one brings it up.

    1. Yuna

      OP said, very clearly, that they do not want to disclose the medical condition. Perhaps you could respect their wishes? They are not obliged to be “vulnerable” at work, nor to be the means of educating others.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        +100

        Where did this idea that people have to share their deepest, darkest secrets or medical issues with strangers to help make them comfortable come from?! So weird.

      2. Samwise

        Um, I don’t think Brene is “disrespecting “ OP’s wishes, just making a suggestion that OP can take or not. Possibly Brene did not remember that detail — I know I’ve offered suggestions in the past and then reread the original letter (or been corrected by the commentariat and had to say oops.

        Anyway, I think we can give each other the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions unless there’s strong evidence to the contrary.

    2. Arctic

      OP has experienced past discrimination and knows the likliehood. And she’s not sure if workplace protections have kicked in, yet.

      She doesn’t want to, has good reasons not to (not that she needs to justify), and shouldn’t have to.

    3. Ethyl

      I think there’s a real difference between what Brene Brown meant as far as “vulnerability” and stuff like, say, making yourself *vulnerable* to discrimination, harassment, unwanted advice, etc. And while LW may indeed have workplace protections, fighting discrimination takes time and energy, and when you have a chronic illness time and energy can be in real short supply.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This is not the kind of vulnerability we should encourage folks to undertake in the workplace, especially when they’ve experienced prior discrimination.

    5. Jessie the First (or second)

      “Vulnerability is a good thing….” in personal relationships where intimacy is important. Vulnerability to discrimination because of health status/disability is not a good thing. That second kind is the potential issue in the OP’s letter.

    6. Observer

      Besides what the others have said, it’s actually often NOT the case that vulnerability helps people look beyond their prejudices.

    7. OP 3

      Hello! I am OP 3. Like others have said, I definitely would not follow this advice because I do not want to disclose my medical condition at work.

      In personal life, as I said in the letter, I have no problem telling people that I have a chronic illness. I’ll tell them anything they want to know! I’m an open book. I have no interest in being vulnerable in that way at work, though.

    8. OP 3

      “Vulnerability is a good thing and helps people look beyond their assumptions and bias. ”

      This is not always true with chronic illness and disability. People have a lot of biases and presumptions about chronically ill/disabled people. I would encourage you to do some research into it.

  23. SigneL

    OP3, I’s say “please don’t comment about my body (or food choices).” And have a followup topic ready (in the Dallas area, the default topic is sports). But my guess is people are going to tell you they CARE and are Just Trying to Help. I’m pretty focused, so I’d just repeat, please don’t comment about my body. I wouldn’t even add that it’s rude, just that I don’t want anyone to comment about my body. I might stare at their body when I say it.

    1. OP 3

      Thanks for the advice (I’m OP 3). I’ve started blandly acknowledging my coworkers’ comments and changing the subject afterwards. It seems to have worked so far!

  24. Anon for this

    I was once hugged by an applicant! I work remotely and had done a phone interview with her and just happened to be in the office the day she came to interview with a couple of team members. After the interview, I happened to bump into the group as they were escortig her out and they stopped to introduce me. We talked for a second and then she bopped over and gave me a huge hug. In the middle she cheerfully announced ‘I’m a hugger!’ (I think when she realized what she was doing). We all laughed and her resume was SO good that we ended up hiring her. Oddly enough, I was on the receiving end of a lot of hugs that trip. I’m not sure if it’s because I am rarely in that office or because I just really looked like I needed a hug. I am NOT a hugger, so it was a little strange.

  25. JediSquirrel

    OP4 – I’m terrible at selecting gifts, so my go-to gift for weddings, new babies, etc is a picture frame. You can get a nice one for $10-20, and they will need it and use it.

    But you shouldn’t feel obligated to buy your boss a wedding gift.

      1. Parenthetically

        See, I must be an outlier, because I dislike picture frames as gifts! I have very simple but very specific taste in frames, so I especially hate the themed frames people tend to buy — Disney characters or cutesy blocks or whatever for babies, “live laugh love” or other cheesy sayings on wedding ones, anything ornate. I feel like it’s a minefield of Guessing Other People’s Taste.

        1. SigneL

          I’ve gotten simple sterling frames (which aren’t expensive, especially if you go to Tuesday Morning or Overstock). Simple, classic, and appropriate for wedding pictures. I’d keep it simple, however.

        2. JediSquirrel

          I agree with your taste in frames, so like SigneL, I always tend toward something simple and classic. But I also let them know that if it doesn’t match their decor (which gives them an out if they think it’s as ugly as sin), they are free to put a picture of themselves in and regift it (which is nice if they have elderly relatives who couldn’t make it to the wedding).

          I have to admit, if it were my boss, I’d be tempted to put an autographed head shot of myself in the frame before I wrapped it up, though.

        3. I usually lurk

          Agree. I am very picky about what I hang in my house and I probably wouldn’t like a silver frame. (I would appreciate the gesture! But I wouldn’t use the frame.)

  26. Llellayena

    Op3: I am genuinely curious (and a bit incensed on your behalf) how are you discriminated against in work situations for needing to eat more than most? I can see social discrimination, but I’m a bit lost on how it spills into work. I eat very lightly (leftovers from restaurants are the rule, not the exception) but my dad has been known to order a large pizza just for him, so there’s a wide range of “socially acceptable amount to eat” that I see. How does eating amounts at the top of the range translate into work-affecting discrimination?

    Please note, you should be able to shut this type of conversation down regardless of the discrimination effect and Alison has good scripts for that. I’m just trying to recognize the discrimination so I can react well/shut it down if I see it.

    1. Ethyl

      I suspect that it’s not about the visible representations of LW’s chronic illness (how much they eat or how their body looks) as much as it is that once they disclosed the condition, they were treated differently by their coworkers and bosses. Stuff like not getting travel assignments or sent to conferences because they’re so “fragile,” or not getting promotions or good projects because of same.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        I’ve had this happen to me as well, which is why I haven’t disclosed any problems about my health with anyone I work with beyond the rather bland “I have celiac disease and am lactose intolerant.”

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Absolutely. Concern bias can be incredibly harmful to folks who disclose disabilities. It’s insidious because it’s wrapped in the language of care/concern.

          1. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist

            +1, I have experienced it but didn’t know it had a name! Thanks, Princess Consuela Banana Hammock!

  27. A tester, not a developer

    OP3 – You said you thought people would stop commenting on what you eat if they knew about your condition. I have a chronic condition that affects my diet (IBD). I’ve been pretty open about it, yet people still feel the urge to comment on my food, and throw in ‘helpful’ advice for good measure.

  28. AisforAmy

    If it makes OP1 feel any better, I was once interviewing a college student for an on-campus job, and after we went through all the duties and said “so what do you think?”, he told us he’d talk to his parents and think it over that weekend and let us know. We realized he just offered the job to himself, but we were utterly charmed and bemused, we just went with it. He turned out to be an excellent employee and I remember him as one of my favorite student hires!

  29. EBStarr

    Oh boy. When I was a teenager I once accidentally kissed a teacher in front of *hundreds of people*. It was the school awards assembly, and this teacher was giving me an award of some kind. While I was up on stage to get the award, she reached out to shake my hand or something, but I thought she was going in for a kiss so I kissed her on the cheek. I immediately realized my mistake when every other kid in my high school started *laughing at me* which is basically a high schooler’s worst nightmare. And I was a very shy kid. Don’t even know how I made it off the stage — but it’s been almost twenty years and I would say it started to be funny after about … ten years? For awhile it was the thing I would think about in the middle of the night and cringe…

    So OP, at least you can be glad you didn’t have an audience! But also, don’t waste ten years being embarrassed about this, it’ll become funny eventually!

  30. Cynthia

    OP#4, please don’t spend less than $50 on the gift. That would be far too cheap, and I know that sounds harsh and lots of people will try to make you feel better and tell you giving a $20 gift is okay, but at a wedding that’s too low. $20 is a good holiday office or children’s party gift amount.

    $50 is bare minimum, $100 is much more reasonable. Yes, even with travel and accommodations taken into consideration. Weddings are expensive as hell and you accepted the invitation, so it’s only respectful to show up with a commensurate gift in return.

    1. Parenthetically

      Dude, no. No. Come on. The whole “your wedding gift should cover the amount spent per guest at the wedding” is crass, materialistic, classist nonsense. Nobody holds a gun to a bride’s head and says “SPEND TWO HUNDRED BUCKS A HEAD OR ELSE” and wedding guests are in absolutely no way responsible for the couple’s financial decisions. Decent people don’t plan weddings they can’t afford and then shake their guests down to make up the difference.

      If OP wants to go to the wedding, she should go. If she can’t afford to bring a gift, she should bring a nice card with an inscription wishing the couple all the best, and if they aren’t grateful that AN EMPLOYEE sacrificed time and money and effort to get to their wedding to offer congratulations because she didn’t meet some arbitrary monetary threshold, they are selfish jerks and have absolutely no high ground from which to lecture people about etiquette. Period.

      1. Cynthia

        I didn’t say it should cover any amount. It’s about the guest’s own self-respect. No one forced the OP to accept the invitation to the wedding, but once she did, she was obligated to pay for her own travel and accommodations and that doesn’t mean she then gives a $20 gift because other costs were involved. It’s low class.

        1. Parenthetically

          “It’s about the guest’s own self-respect.” “It’s low class.”

          And that’s classist nonsense. Buying a gift I cannot afford does not confer self-respect. It confers unnecessary debt.

        2. Agent J

          Have you considered that the OP didn’t feel comfortable declining the invitation because it was their boss?

          We see letters here all the time about the imbalance of power in the boss-employee relationship. They know for the future to decline the invitation but for now, this advice is not helpful and needlessly money-shaming.

          1. Cynthia

            I have. But they still accepted and now they have to deal with it. That’s real life.

            1. Asenath

              But – regardless of what the boss & spouse might secretly expect – they should be only inviting those they want to have as guest, and then should welcome them whether they bring the most expensive gift of all, or nothing other than their best wishes. A wedding is a social event; not some festival you pay an entrance fee (ie gift) in order to access.

            2. Anonymous 5

              So is their particular financial situation. And so “dealing with it” needs first to be first and foremost from the standpoint of what they can realistically afford.

            3. One (1) Anon

              Real life generally takes circumstances and social dynamics into account. Your arbitrary decision of what matters as ‘real life’ is just that — arbitrary.

        3. Asenath

          She can give whatever she wants and can afford – and the recipients, if they are courteous, should act grateful for it. It’s not high class to give something you can’t afford to pay for, or to go in debt to give a gift. It’s putting show ahead of financial common sense. So, actually, is attending a destination wedding if the travel costs are so high they’re way out of line with your budget, but it seems that OP has decided to pay for the travel even if it is expensive.

          Self-respect is based partly on being honest with your own money management, not buying gifts you can’t afford – for what? To make a public display pretending to have more money than you do?

          1. Arts Akimbo

            +1!

            What *is* high class is to be gracious and grateful for the presence any guest who has chosen to celebrate with you on your milestone event, and to treat any gift given as a bonus blessing, not as some material requirement.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          With all due respect, this advice is harmful, classist, and simply wrong. Please do not pressure OP into further extending themselves financially. A wedding is not a financial transaction. Treating it as such is crass, and pretending this is about a gift giver’s “self respect” is disingenuous.

          The guidelines you’ve provided may be your cultural norms, but they are not the prevailing etiquette or wedding norms for others.

        5. Observer

          Heavens. If the only way to “self-respect” is to BUY it, no amount of money is going to be enough

          You know what is “low class”? Inviting people with the expectation of gifts and bean counting about it. Also, failing to recognize or dismissing the effort someone has made to join you in your celebration, and looking ONLY at the cost of the gift they gave you.

        6. Anonchivist

          It’s also low-class to comment on other peoples’ means or perceived socioeconomic level.

    2. Jellyfish

      Wow, I hope you’re not serious. Everyone is allowed to determine their own budget, including the people planning the “expensive as hell” wedding.
      When I invited people to my wedding, it was because I wanted to celebrate with them. Nobody was obligated to subsidize our expenses.

      OP #4 can spend or not spend whatever they’re comfortable with and can afford. If their boss is demanding sizable gifts from subordinates, that office has much bigger issues than wedding etiquette. Regardless, OP is under no financial obligations here.

      1. Cynthia

        Why are you talking about the boss’ demands when nothing like that was mentioned in the letter? The closest thing is the mention of the $150 kitchen gadget from the registry, which seems more theoretical than real – and not necessarily the lowest cost item on the registry if it is real.

        If you thought of your wedding that way, that’s fine. But I’m not speaking from the wedding couple’s perspective – OP4’s boss may be fine with getting a cheap gift or no gift at all. But enjoying the venue, food, and entertainment the wedding couple provided and throwing them twenty bucks or an equivalent gift looks either like you have no idea what a reasonable gift is or you do and just chose to be cheap.

        1. anon61

          I agree. At no wedding that I have ever been to, from the most elaborate to the most basic, from the poorest couple to the wealthiest, would a 20 dollar gift have been seen as appropriate. And we are talking dozens of weddings here, going back decades, and not even considering inflation. I actually think this is pretty bad advice. If the OP really couldn’t afford a nice gift, then she should not have accepted the invitation. Now that she has accepted it, she should act accordingly. And that includes giving a non cheap gift.

          1. Jules the 3rd

            I can remember attending 14 weddings. At 5 of them, ‘no gifts’ was a specific request. It’s getting more and more common, with second marriages and even first marriages coming later in life. I requested ‘no gifts’ at my reception for example, as my partner and I had lived on our own for 5 years or so before we moved in together, and we were constantly having to pare down our belongings.

            There is no single ‘law’ about what a ‘good guest’ *must* do in every circumstance. But measuring anyone’s (self or other) worth based on money is dehumanizing. Try reading A Christmas Carol sometime – there’s a reason it still resonates.

              1. Parenthetically

                Here we go. Look, if anyone is “moralizing and insulting” it’s you and Cynthia, who are all over these threads telling people that they absolutely must buy extravagant gifts they’d never buy for themselves regardless of their budget, financial limitations, or preferences, because some inviolable social pact demands it as a matter of self-respect or conformity or something, and that to live within one’s means is LESS important than performing this social obligation. It is a bizarre, classist, unhelpful, condescending position to take.

          2. Observer

            I’m glad I don’t move in your circles. I have married of 4 children (yes, that’s the way it works in my circles.) MANY of our guests did not give ANY gift. And that was just fine. I was glad to have them join us.

            I’ve also been to many weddings where I have not brought a gift. Had any of those people had a problem with that fact, you can be sure the friendship would have been over. And I know it wasn’t a problem – I wasn’t the only one who didn’t bring gifts and I *would* most definitely have heard about it if some of those people had run into any issues with that. So, I know it was not just me.

        2. MCL

          Yeah, but you’re a guest and they’re the hosts. Guests don’t owe anything to attend. It’s not a $$$ per plate fundraiser for the couple, and I argue that any hosts expecting the guests to cover the costs that they chose to incur in the name of throwing a party are crass. I give what I can afford, and if someone thinks that I didn’t pay “enough” for a gift as an invited guest, well, I guess we live in different worlds.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            + 1

            Mentalities like this are exactly why I decline to attend everyone’s wedding, baby showers, etc. You’ll get what I give you, and you will deal.

          2. Cynthia

            Removed. This is classist nonsense. You need to abide by my request that you move on. – Alison

            1. Jules the 3rd

              I reject that basic assumption, that my value is based on my monetary contribution. My relationships are not based on the amount of money we pass among ourselves, they’re based on conversations / time / empathy / support / emotional sharing / experience sharing.

              I have given gifts in the $20 range – because that ceramic roaster with the turkey on top referenced a shared experience and story. I have given no gift, at the wedding couple’s request. I have given $100 gifts, because they were young couples and actually needed plates / cups. I’m still friends with the $20 and the no gifts, fifteen years later. We share child care, birthday parties, movie nights, casual dinners.

              Our friendships do not revolve around mere money.

        3. Falling Diphthong

          Enjoying the venue, food, and entertainment the wedding couple provided.

          This gets tossed around all the time (in the “commensurate” transactional view of weddings), but virtually no one would choose those things as the way to spend the evening. There’s an excellent reason no one operates a line of nightclubs that are just like wedding receptions, with a cover that pays for the entertainment, venue, food, and drink–because that is NOT a viable business model. No one does this stuff for fun. They show up because the couple matters to them. The couple hosting the party makes sure people have something to drink, eat, and sit on, because those are basics of hospitality.

          1. Linguist

            Very interesting comparison, and your phrase “but virtually no one would choose those things as the way to spend the evening” made me think of how little I require to have a great evening: talking to people. I’m cheap. Let me talk. Don’t interrupt conversations with entertainment. :)

          2. I usually lurk

            Lol. I never thought of it this way, but this is so true. I don’t think I’ve ever truly looked forward to attending a wedding (although I do enjoy the food at the fancy ones!).

    3. Peridot

      Come on. Weddings don’t have to be expensive as hell, and even if this one is, that’s a decision the bride and groom made. It doesn’t obligate attendees to help them turn a profit.

      1. Cynthia

        You’re the third responder to create a false argument here. So let me be clear:

        I’m not talking about the wedding couple requiring a certain level of gift – or turning a profit – or any kind of obligation that comes from their end.

        It’s about being an honorable person and having self-respect. To accept the invitation is to accept the responsibility to be a reasonable guest in return, which means you come to the event to honor the wedding couple and, as gifts are customary, you give something more substantial than you’d give to a child’s birthday party or at an office holiday gift exchange.

        Again – not for them, but for you. And if you can’t, you shouldn’t have accepted.

        1. PB

          You’ve said that giving a gift <$50 is "low class" and shows a lack of self-respect. That's … not a kind thing to tell someone struggling financially.

              1. Fortitude Jones

                No they don’t. Apparently poor people should just huddle under the bridge where they came from and not bother showing up to rub their lack of self-respect in everyone else’s face.

                1. Oh So Anon

                  Cynthia’s coming across as a bit crass, but there are people who believe that they shouldn’t accept hospitality that they aren’t able to reciprocate because it saves face and prevents them from seeming like freeloaders. I mean, I have family members who live in small apartments who are are reluctant to accept dinner invitations to someone’s nicer house because they don’t feel capable of hosting those people in return. Turning down invitations if you feel you can’t afford the cost of attendance or a gift is pretty common among those types as well, which means that they seldom accept invitations.

                  It’s certainly a worldview that prevents poor people from participating in the lives of people they care for, but it’s not that unusual.

                2. Falling Diphthong

                  I recall old Miss Manners explicitly addressing this–you entertain in the style you can afford. It’s okay to have a friendship where one pair hosts a meal at a restaurant they want to try and can afford, and the other hosts scrambled eggs in their studio apartment.

            1. Myrin

              Um. Because you got invited, so presumably you’re wanted there, and because you want to come, too?

                1. Parenthetically

                  Hahahahaha Someone: “I want my friends at my wedding and they want to be here.” You: “THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH, MONEY OR EQUIVALENT MUST CHANGE HANDS, POOR PEOPLE DON’T DESERVE TO CELEBRATE WITH THEIR FRIENDS.”

                2. Jules the 3rd

                  Wow. You don’t have friends, you have potential ATMs. That… makes me sad for you. Like I said above, try actually reading _A Christmas Carol_ to understand why so many people disagree with you.

                  There’s more to the world than money, and more to people than just what they can do for you.

                3. MatKnifeNinja

                  For grins and giggles…

                  I grew up where your present was an amount of money to cover the plate of food then some. Per person.

                  1980s wedding money $15/plate + $10=$25 per person. My family had 5 people in it. That was $125 for a wedding gift my dad could not afford. It was half his house note at the time. Add in the cost of NEW clothes (at least us three kids), you are easily looking at around $250 of which my father flat out didn’t have. It was family. That what was expected or there were butt hurt feelings that YOU dissed them.

                  I know many bridal sites still give this guide line. It is outrageous considering 20 to 30 somethings swimming in student debt. My relative just had a destination wedding, where I was “commanded” to attend with my niece. We would have needed passports (yes, I’m trash. I don’t have one yet), visas, airfare, clothes, transportation, and lodging.

                  I number crunched it. All in total would have been $8K for my niece and I to attend. That includes the $400 wedding gift from both of us ($200 per each of us). Heck, had they had the wedding at the VFW hall, I couldn’t shell out $400 for gift.

                  The mother is particularly torqued that people who came didn’t also part with serious cash for the wedding gift. My family does not have white collar 6 figure income peeps, who are able to cut $400 checks. The bride and groom raked in under $15K. My tacky relative told me so.

                  Had my relatives not been money grubbing maniacs, more family would have come. It embarrassed them that their expectations made people stay home.

                  OP, get a very lovely card, with new $20 bill. Money in card, and write “Have a treat on me during your honeymoon.” I would be happy someone would think me on my honey moon.

                  Bridal websites feed this insane beast that weddings are to make cash. I’ve stopped going to some family wedding because I can’t fork over a $200 to $300 dollar gift. Their loss.

              1. Oh So Anon

                Not going to defend Cynthia, but there are people who are so fearful of looking like freeloaders that they fear being conspicuously poor in response to someone’s hospitality. For those people, being wanted somewhere and wanting to go aren’t sufficient reasons to inflict yourself on someone’s event.

                1. Observer

                  That’s no reason to expect everyone else to adopt that fearful point of view. It’s do dehumanizing – and not just to the person who can’t afford to “pay for their meal.”

                2. Jules the 3rd

                  That is a fine choice for them to make for themselves. In the US at least, we have a strain of ‘rich = good’ morality, and if someone wants to buy into it, that’s their choice. But expecting everyone else to see it that way… whew, no.

        2. Matilda Jefferies

          Yikes. There’s a lot of “should” going on here, and a lot of assumptions about the OP’s level of self-respect.

          Whether or not she “should” have accepted the invitation to the wedding – she did, and she can’t change that. And yes, she “should” take total cost of attending into account when buying a gift. If she has to travel and pay for a hotel and so on, then there is absolutely no reason that she can’t spend $20 on a gift if that’s all she can afford at this point.

          I assume the OP is both an honourable person and one who has self respect. And if I were the person who had invited her to my wedding, I would rather she come with no gift at all, than spend money she doesn’t have. I would much rather she respect her *own* boundaries and her *own* budget, than spend some arbitrary amount of money to conform to someone else’s ideas of what (and who) she should respect.

          1. The Other Dawn

            “And if I were the person who had invited her to my wedding, I would rather she come with no gift at all, than spend money she doesn’t have.”

            Agree completely. I didn’t invite people to my wedding so I can get gifts. I invited them so they could help us celebrate. And those that did bring gifts/cards weren’t sneered at because they gave us $25.00 instead of $50.00. Most of us were all young and broke back then–at least in my friends and family circle–so we gave what we could, if we could. Nobody was looked down on because of it.

          2. Observer

            I would rather she come with no gift at all, than spend money she doesn’t have.

            100%

            I would be VERY sad if I found out that someone did not attend a wedding or other celebration I had invited them to because of this reason.

            1. Arts Akimbo

              Me too! Because it turns out I actually *like* my friends as more than just a wallet.

        3. Shan

          I mean, I just attended a destination wedding and didn’t give a gift, and I feel perfectly content with myself. No self-respect issues here!

          “It’s about being an honourable person”… good grief.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Whoa, no, absolutely not. Certainly gift-giving norms vary by region and perhaps you’re somewhere with really specific rules not this, but this is (a) not true for most regions/people, and (b) absolutely not true when we’re talking about an employee of the the person getting married.

      There is literally no manners expert — Emily Post, Miss Manners, any of them — who says that your gift must be “commensurate” to the costs of your attendance at the wedding.

      1. Cynthia

        Who are you responding to Alison? If it’s me, then please note I said nothing about covering the cost of attendance.

        I’m not citing manners experts but real people, what they believe is reasonable, and how they behave. It’s a disservice to tell people it’s okay not to give a gift and then have them look foolish as a result. And trust me, that is what will happen.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          You wrote, “Weddings are expensive as hell and you accepted the invitation, so it’s only respectful to show up with a commensurate gift in return.”

          This is not any rule of etiquette anywhere; in fact, it’s unmannerly. Please move on now.

        2. Oh So Anon

          FWIW, I have family members who think like this, and because they can’t afford what they believe is “reasonable”, they feel unable to accept any invitations and are more or less completely socially isolated. Is that better than potentially looking foolish?

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device

      Please, don’t invite me to a wedding if you would consider it “insulting” if my gift cost less than $100.

      Someone could turn your argument around and say “if it costs me $500 just to make the trip, the people who are getting married better not spend less than $100 on the wedding meal.”

      No matter how much I care about a friend or relative, their wedding is more important to them than it is to me. “We want to see you” shouldn’t mean “if you don’t have an extra $600, you can disappoint me either by staying home, or by not buying an expensive gift.” But if someone told me those were the choices, that I could make a friend or coworker unhappy either for free or by spending hundreds of dollars to go to their wedding, I’d keep the money.

    6. Jules the 3rd

      Wow. No, just no. Weddings are a celebration of the joining of two lives. Being there, celebrating and showing your support is the real gift.

      Putting a price tag on whether someone’s ‘celebrated enough’ is crass, no matter who is doing it.

      1. Lissa

        Yes! I’m so confused by the self-respect argument here. If someone has never heard/internalized this apparent rule of needing to give $50 or more, then why would their self-respect have anything to do with it, since they wouldn’t even be aware this is a thing they should be doing? It’s not like people who have self-respect are going to magically have knowledge about gifting expectations imbued into their heads!

    7. CanCan

      A wedding isn’t going to get any cheaper if you buy the couple a $50-$100 useless gift, like an engraved soup tureen. They’re not likely to sell it, and it doesn’t save them money if it’s something they wouldn’t have otherwise bought. Gifts have to be chosen based on your relationship with the couple and what you know about them (their needs, their style, their likes and dislikes). If you don’t know what they like and would actually use, a small symbolic gift and money is best. However, it’s not appropriate to give the boss money, so a small gift is fine.

      Besides, how is the recipient going to know what the gift cost? For them, the value of it is not the cost, but whether the thing itself is valuable. (Unless it comes with a gift receipt, but I don’t know if that’s done at weddings.)

      1. MatKnifeNinja

        In my family, gifts are for the shower (like a crockpot or whatever). The wedding means you give CASH. So..the lunatics do an end of the night tally of what was brought in. It may not matter to the couple. It sure a heck matters to some of the parents.

        The weddings invite everyone and their dog. All relatives. Bosses. Coworkers. Guests of honor. A small wedding with my relatives is 200 people. The amount of debt to throw these types of wedding is insane.

        Anyway, people wouldn’t know how much a git was at a shower. The wedding is all cards and checks or money. Those get opened up at the end of the night with money getting deposited into the bank.

        I wish my family was more butter mints, punch, cake in the church rec room wedding types.

    8. Dahlia

      “Weddings are expensive as hell” Yeah, and whose choice was it to have one? I honestly can’t wrap my head around this idea that when you decide to throw an incredibly expensive party to celebrate yourself, other people need to pay you for it because… manners or something.

      Is the point of a wedding to celebrate a marriage or to get gifts?

      1. What’s your damage, Heather?

        They don’t have to be! You can have a cheap wedding if you choose to.

        1. Dahlia

          No kidding. The last wedding I went to, they got married in town hall, his mother made the cake, she got her dress from David’s Bridal and the kids’ clothes (their kids were their wedding party) from Sears. It was lovely. We gave them a really pretty glass pitcher. It did not cost buttloads of money, but it was useful and nice.

          1. I usually lurk

            David’s Bridal is … not that cheap? I had to get my dress somewhere else because I couldn’t afford the one I wanted there.

            1. Dahlia

              It was like 200 dollars versus a couple thousand. Considering they had 4 kids and had been together for 15 years, I didn’t consider it that much of an outrageous splurge when combined with a homemade cake and cold cuts.

    9. Katefish

      One of my favorite wedding gifts was a $35 Walmart gift card from a couple I knew was young and both on SSDI to boot. Plus, it came in very handy when we temporarily moved to a different state. I think a wedding gift should be “nice,” but nice depends on the giver’s circumstances and thoughtfulness, not on a dollar figure.

    10. Observer

      No. What is NOT “respectful” is to INVITE someone to your affair and then expect them to PAY for it. If you want a fancy wedding, PAY FOR IT YOURSELF!

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Preach. Also, the people who whine about gifts and the value of same on wedding forums are usually broke as hell themselves. People who have money can go buy their own shit, so they’re not concerned about how much someone spent on their wedding gift.

    11. Kat

      I feel really uncomfortable with all the posts here stating that someone should feel ashamed of bringing a cheap gift / only bringing a card to a wedding. The reason I had a wedding and reception was because I wanted to celebrate my marriage with my friends and family, not to get a pile of gifts! We got married right after I graduated medical school, so we had a decent number of guests who had $250k in student loans and hadn’t started working yet. The fact that they managed to scrape it together enough to travel to celebrate with me was what was meaningful, not whether or not they tucked a check in their card.

    12. Rainbow

      I agree with you, Cynthia. It’s fine to give no gift or just a card. Or buying an item that costs $20 would be okay, I suppose. But if you’re giving cash or a gift card, under $50 would absolutely stand out in a bad way.

    13. Perpal

      The only reason I could bear to have a wedding (I kind of… hate being girly, hate being the center of attention, and hate everything I’ve heard about the wedding industry, bridzillias, etc) was because I tried to focus on it as a “party for friends and family”. My friends and peeps being able to come and visit me was more than enough of a present. We’re all far flung these days so that was huge.
      The only crappy thing is to RSVP and then NOT go because yeah, that was ~$50/plate down the drain for plates bought but not consumed (I would have been happy to take them home and eat over the week but I guess the caterers decided to help themselves or something because when my dad asked for them they were gone)
      OP knows what boss is like and whether it makes sense to go with just a card or small gift card* or not
      *just make sure it’s not the kind that steadily runs out of money if you don’t spend it right away, uhg.

  31. probably not what you want but

    Op #3, Probably not what you want but someone I know suffered from the same problem. Whenever someone would snarkily comment, she would go full on oversharing and tell them that she has to take meds 4 times a day, can’t run for more then 10 minutes despite training and has a functional life expectancy of under 40 as well as needing daily painkillers. What really drove it was the sobering tone and voice. Almost nobody bothered her more then once with it

  32. Parenthetically

    OP#3 Ugh, I am so sorry our culture sucks so much when it comes to food and bodies. Many years ago I had a friend in a similar situation. The only way she could gain weight was with a very specific combination of very protein and fat intensive high calorie diet + weight lifting, which she had worked out over the course of countless doctor visits. I saw the crap she went through and heard the comments she got, and I felt very angry on her behalf — it was absolutely relentless.

    I think Alison’s advice is spot on. I did wonder — if you have the energy and the right kind of relationship with anyone in the office, could you recruit them to help you make a change in the office culture about this issue? “I’d really love for this to be an office where we don’t comment on people’s bodies or food choices. Can we make an effort to gently push back on remarks about those things, whether they’re intended as positives or negatives?”

  33. anon61

    OP4:
    You could have declined the invitation. As others have said, an invitation is not a summons.

    Buuut, since you did accept, I think:

    (1) You do need to bring a gift. Gift giving is what is done at weddings. According to the “experts” and according to common custom (at least in the USA, I can’t speak for elsewhere).

    (2) I don’t think 150 dollars is actually a lot to spend for a wedding gift. Again, you didn’t have to go at all, but, because you are going, you should (should in the sense of following custom) bring a nice gift. I really don’t think that a 20 or 30 dollar gift is appropriate at most weddings. Just as you wouldn’t NOT get dressed up, and plead poverty as your excuse, you shouldn’t bring a gift more appropriate for a casual house warming party to a wedding. I do agree that you could “go in” on a nice gift with a co worker or two (but not 10!). I also find the fact that you wouldn’t spend 150 dollars on a kitchen gadget for yourself to be neither here nor there. I often spend more on gifts for stuff than I would spend for the corresponding thing for myself. Basically, I wouldn’t spend anything at all on “kitchen gadgets” (don’t need ’em, don’t want ’em), but, even if it was something I did want, I don’t find it odd to spend more, and get a “nicer” version of the thing, for someone else than I would for myself. You can go off register, if you want, but I still think your gift should be more in the one hundred dollar range than the twenty dollar range.

    1. Dahlia

      Boy if you think $150 is “not a lot”, I have a paypal that you can send that right over to.

      1. MatKnifeNinja

        Seriously. My aunt could have wrote $150 is not a lot of money, because if she’s paying $100/plate for her daughter’s wedding that extra $50 is considered the “present”.

        A wedding gift in my insane family can run about $50/PERSON. Have you, spouse and two kids with the cost per plate $50 (considered cheap)=$400 gift, because you sure as hell better factor in the kids into the mix. Remember the first two hundred cover the expense of the wedding. The second two hundred is the gift.

        So gross.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      The norms for your social circle and region may view a $150 gift as “not unreasonable” or $100 as the appropriate “floor” for a wedding gift.

      But in many parts of the U.S. and in many social contexts, those assumptions do not carry or are not prevailing norms. Literally all etiquette experts, including the folks who field wedding etiquette question for wedding websites, state that a gift is not required (although a tasteful card would be nice), and there is no minimum amount required of a gift. Someone could make a scrapbook of the couple’s lives, and it could easily cost less than $100 and be more meaningful than a fancy kitchen gadget. At bottom, gifts should not be demanded, nor conditions imposed.

      1. anon61

        Literally all etiquette experts say the opposite. That a gift is required. And I don’t think it would appropriate for OP to give a gift like a “scrapbook of the couple’s lives” to her boss!

        I think folks are getting a little too personal about this. This a work wedding question, not a family or friend wedding question.

        The OP should give a gift appropriate to the circumstances of the wedding. Given that the cheapest gift on the registry was 150 dollars, I think her gift should not cost a tiny percentage of that, as Alison recommends.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Who are you citing? Because Emily Post/Post Institute, Miss Manners, and a dozen wedding websites say that a gift is not required. It’s customary, but it’s not required. The “high end” guidance for the cost of a gift to a coworker or distant friend is $50–75, but again, that’s only if you feel compelled to send a gift. (Also, Alison isn’t suggesting a tiny percentage of $150!)

          I’m not recommending that OP give her boss a scrapbook. I’m saying that there are meaningful, off-registry gifts a person can give that are well below $100. It’s reasonable for OP to set a lower budget when deciding on a gift. OP should attempt to maximize the meaningfulness of the gift, which doesn’t rely exclusively on the cost of the gift.

          1. anon61

            Um, that’s what “customary” means. That you do it, or you are violating custom. Which is bad manners.

            And fifty to seventy five is a lot different that 20 to 30, which is what Alison is saying, and that is a tiny percentage of 150.

            As for the OP, she should follow the cues set by her boss with the registry. Her gift can be less than the cheapest registry suggestion, but not blatantly so. That would be my advice.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Dude, “customary” and “required” mean different things. Departing from custom is not inherently bad manners.

              But it sounds like it’s not useful to discuss this further, as we’re both firmly committed to our respective positions.

        2. Lissa

          I think people are just wondering where you’re getting this from – it seems to be a social circle thing more than anything. I know there are definitely circles/regions where everyone gets $100 or more gifts, but that hasn’t always been my experience at weddings and as far as I know nobody was ever offended by people not following a rule they haven’t even heard of. It feels kinda like you’re saying “this is how it is where I’m from, so therefore it is that way everywhere” despite other people telling you that hasn’t been their experience – so why would your personal experience matter more. People here are saying that they can’t find all these wedding experts who say a $100+ gift is required, and it’s not a norm everywhere – so why is your experience the standard everyone should follow?

          1. anon61

            Follow the cues the boss’es OP’s registry provides. That’s where I’m “getting this from.”

            The view here seems to be…well, in my circles people gift less/I wouldn’t mind getting less/I’ve given less….ergo, OP should give less. Not seeing how that’s good, granular advice for the OP.

            1. Parenthetically

              No, the view here is that OP has said that the amount she has already spent is a hardship, so the rest of us are reminding her that the majority of people DON’T see weddings as primarily transactional, financial events, but as celebratory ones, and that her personal finances take priority over purchasing an extravagant gift.

              “Customary” does not mean “required” AT ALL. It means ordinarily, it’s a thing that you bring a gift to a wedding. And no one is disputing that. What we ARE disputing is this strange notion you seem to have that a person who cannot afford a gift from the registry is in some kind of shameful position and should either decline or… what? Go into debt to buy a fancy gift?

              Customs are designed to serve people, not the other way around. THAT is why you’re getting so much pushback. You’re making us all slaves of customs (which you don’t even seem to acknowledge can vary widely from culture to culture) rather than allowing the custom to exist as a general guide to behavior, but with variations, exceptions, and grace in how they actually function in real relationships.

            2. Lissa

              Right, but the granular advice might be exactly what you say here about following the registry cues – I could see that point here. I think the pushback here is coming from the fact that it’s NOT being phrased that way at all. By saying things like “it’s common custom”, that does invite people to say, well, no, that’s not common custom in their experience, because the two arguments are exactly the same. You’re right that “in my circle it isn’t common” isn’t great advice, but that’s essentially what you’ve been saying too. By bringing up things like how $150 isn’t a lot to spend, and etiquette experts, you’re saying that it “should” be this way.

              Granular advice might be something like “customs on this do vary, but judging by the registry, yes boss’ circle does expect a higher value gift so therefore . . ” But instead there’s a lot of arguing about “this is the custom!” “no, this is!” all of which is gonna be equally helpful or unhelpful to the OP’s situation.

    3. Observer

      It’s classist and just fairly ridiculous. The idea that there is some obligation to give a gift that over-rides any and all other obligations is just fantasy.

      Essentially what you are saying is that since they made the mistake of accepting the invitation they now have an ironclad obligation to spend what wealthy people consider a modest amount on a gift, regardless of any and all other obligations. Well, guess what? The so called “customary obligation” to pretend to be wealthy and give a “nice by upper class standards” gift actually does NOT over-ride the obligation to act with a reasonable amount of fiscal prudence.

    4. Arts Akimbo

      What the actual he**? I didn’t spend $150 on my own brother’s wedding present! My friends and I have routinely given each other wedding gifts under $50, and there is nothing wrong with this. I’d rather someone gift me with their presence than anything else!

  34. Tusky

    I think $100 is really high as a base line amount for wedding gifts (we received a lot of gifts that were half that and I never felt slighted). But, more importantly, I don’t think the average person receiving the gifts is going to think all that much about it, if they even notice. Because it’s a boss, I’d probably go off registry just to keep the amount I spent discreet, but I really don’t think there’s any rule you have to spend a huge amount!

      1. anon61

        Just not seeing how 100 dollars is a “huge amount.” Twenty dollars, as mentioned above, is more like what you would give for some office party. Or, as I mentioned, a house warming.

        Again, in my experience, 100 dollars was the “minimum” amount for an adult guest’s cash gift at a wedding. And that is going back like four decades! And I do not at all come from a “high class” or wealthy background!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Please consider that other people have very different finances than you do. For people on lower budgets, $100 can be their food budget for two weeks.

          1. The Other Dawn

            Exactly. I don’t quite understand what these two commenters aren’t getting about the fact that people have different budgets, and that most people (from what I see here and what I’ve experienced IRL) just don’t care about the dollar value attached to a gift, or the lack of a gift. Yes, OP could have declined if she felt strongly she needed to give an expensive gift, but it says right in her letter that she didn’t feel comfortable declining, and it’s her boss so there’s a power imbalance there.

          2. anon61

            I think if that is true of the OP then she should have declined the invitation. And please consider that many people are just cheap.

            I usually agree with your advice. But, to me, a twenty dollar wedding present might be seen by OP’s boss as an insult. What do you think 20 dollar buys? His and her steak knives?

            1. Agent J

              This keeps being repeated but it’s not helpful to the OP. She already accepted the invite. So given her current situation and concerns, what would you suggest she do that isn’t 1) buying a gift she can’t afford and 2) turning back time?

              1. anon61

                Not seeing that she can’t afford it. Just that it is weird and uncomfortable. My suggestion is let this be a learning experience. When you accept a wedding invitation, it means you have to dress up, it might mean you have to travel, it usually means you have to spring for a nice gift. If you can’t afford or don’t want to do all that, don’t accept. But you did accept this time. From your boss. Soooo, go with the flow, take the hit, and deal with it.

                Caveat: OP should not go hungry to follow this advice. Or not per her rent. Etc.

                1. Observer

                  That’s so nice of you to acknowledge that they don’t need to go without food or lose their apartment in order to help finance their boss’ wedding.

                  The thing you are missing is that when you make one mistake, it does NOT obligate your to make a second mistake. OP made a mistake in accepting the invitation. That does NOT obligate them to now make a second mistake and spend money they don’t have.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              This is a really classist perspective on weddings and wedding attendance. You’re suggesting that if people have limited economic means, they should not attend weddings. Please take a moment and think of how awful that is.

              There are perfectly lovely, and appropriately formal, gifts that a person can find for $20–50. It just requires greater thoughtfulness or a keen eye for bargain shopping. And low cost doesn’t necessarily mean low quality. You may have different standards about where you wold shop, how you assign value to a gift, etc. But what Alison and many others are saying is that, with care and thoughtfulness, appropriately thoughtful/valuable gifts can be identified at lower cost.

              OP is already incurring significant costs in travel/lodging, and now you’re suggesting that OP’s just being cheap. That’s really uncharitable, and there’s no basis for that assumption.

            3. Ethyl

              I can literally think of about a dozen things that are thoughtful and meaningful and “gifty” off the top of my head. Hour failure of empathy and creativity does not create some kind of rule everyone has to follow.

        2. Parenthetically

          Just not seeing how 100 dollars is a “huge amount.”

          Yeah, so the problem is that you need to learn to empathize with the vast majority of Americans (including myself, thanks) for whom $100 is genuinely a lot of money. 40% of Americans could not cover a $400 emergency expense.

          1. blackcat

            Yeah.
            A few months back, a friend of mine from high school had her mom’s boyfriend get drunk, steal her car, and wreck it. She only had liability insurance, and she lives in a rural area.
            I asked her if she was comfortable with a monetary gift, and then sent $500 her way.
            I am lucky in that I can afford it, without expecting anything in return. Without help to buy a used car, she would lose her job, not make rent, and not be able to eat.
            What is a small amount of money to one person can be a huge sum to another.

        3. Tusky

          I don’t think it’s generally controversial to say that $100 is a significant amount of money for the average person, and OP says $150 is an amount that would be hard for them to afford. But, again, I think there’s enough variation and haziness around this cultural practice that OP shouldn’t feel morally obligated to spend a certain amount (but could go off registry if worried about being judged for the amount spent).

          1. anon61

            Well, I think it is controversial. Just you saying it isn’t doesn’t make it so.

            And the OP merely said it would make her feel “weird” to spend 150 dollars and that she doesn’t feel “comfortable” with that expense, not that she couldn’t afford it.

            And again, what is the floor here? If you give a twenty or thirty dollar gift for an office party, or a house warming, how does it make sense to do the same for a wedding?

            Weddings are big deals. And, no, it is not on the guest to subsidize an elaborate reception, but I would feel “weird” and “uncomfortable” showing up with a gift that costs less than one fifth of what the cheapest gift on the registry cost.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              If you think it’s controversial to say that $100 is a significant amount of money for the average American, then I think it would be helpful either to: (1) Review statistics about economic well-being for the average American, which provide the data that supports statements that $100 is a lot for some folks; and/or (2) spend time with people in a different economic reality than the one you’re occupying. For many folks, $20 is a huge hit to their weekly budget. There are thousands of folks working full time, living out of their cars, teetering on the brink of economic ruin. It’s important that we not make harmful statements that vilify people for their economic insecurity.

              It’s ok if you feel weird or cheap for contributing a gift that’s below what you think is “not a lot” of money. You can give higher costs gifts. But it’s not ok to expect everyone else—regardless of their economic status—to also feel “weird” or “uncomfortable” for acknowledging that their budget cannot sustain a $100+ hit. We don’t know what OP’s economic status entails, but frankly, it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect the advice. But let’s at least start from the presumption that OP is being honest with us, not that OP is “just cheap.”

            2. Anonymous 5

              Uh, it’s actually not at all controversial. It’s a fact. $150 is a large sum of money to a very large swath of the US population. Whether or not you think it should be is of no consequence here. You can feel as weird or uncomfortable as you want with the amount you choose to spend on anything. You don’t get to tell the OP (or any of us) that gifts for any occasion should have a “minimum” dollar amount.

            3. Lissa

              Ok, but “just you saying it isn’t doesn’t make it so” – that’s what we’re saying about wedding gift prices. Just you saying “people should give $150” doesn’t make it so either when huge swathes of people have never gone to a wedding where this is the norm/expected. So, what does “make it so”? Everything you’re saying here is *extremely* variable. And while I could totally see the point of “the registry starts at $100 so it is likely that the BOSS might have these expectations and could possibly see a lower gift in a bad light”, you’re stating that it’s that way at all weddings, despite many people giving different experiences.

            4. Ethyl

              “And again, what is the floor here? If you give a twenty or thirty dollar gift for an office party, or a house warming, how does it make sense to do the same for a wedding?”

              I’m sorry, I simply don’t understand your logic here. Why does what someone spends on one type of event have any bearing on what is spent by someone else on a different event? There are literally countless reasons someone might be able to swing $20 for an office party but not $150 for a wedding gift. Again, your privilege-blinded failure of empathy and creativity is not an actual fact.

              I would also invite you to strongly consider why there are so many people disagreeing with you and Cynthia about this. Maybe other people know stuff you don’t. It’s possible.

              1. anon61

                Look at it this way. To go out on a Saturday night and go to a ballgame or concert or even just drinks and a nice dinner costs about a hundred dollars. It certainly does not cost 20 to 30 dollars.

                Well, a wedding reception typically provides free drinks, free appetizers, free dinner, free dessert, and some kind of band/DJ entertainment. Besides it being possibly the biggest deal in the life of the marrying couple.

                “I would also invite you to strongly consider why there are so many people disagreeing with you and Cynthia about this. Maybe other people know stuff you don’t. It’s possible.”

                Sure it is.

                Here’s what’s also “possible:”

                Posters, especially “regulars,” tend to side with the blog host.

                “Why does what someone spends on one type of event have any bearing on what is spent by someone else on a different event? There are literally countless reasons someone might be able to swing $20 for an office party but not $150 for a wedding gift. Again, your privilege-blinded failure of empathy and creativity is not an actual fact.”

                Because those kind of increments are what customary rules are all about? Because of expectations? Because the boss his or her self has already provided a cue with the registry?

                The “privilege” bullshit is just really too much.

                I think people should be generous with wedding gifts.

                But, even if I didn’t think that, I think the OP is not doing herself any favors by coming in on the cheap end of very cheap.

                Sorry if that offends you. Not sorry.

                1. love reading

                  So either everyone on this board but two people are wrong and clueless about social etiquette or possibly you are not universally correct about the mores of social circles other than your own?

                  Also you are being rude with the ‘sorry not sorry.’

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I think you’re in a different economic or socioeconomic circle. Going to a nice dinner and a ball game, in several of the areas I’ve lived in, costs about $50.

                  Is it not possible that you have a different conceptualization of what is “expensive,” as opposed to assuming that everyone else is cheap and miserly?

                3. Fortitude Jones

                  To go out on a Saturday night and go to a ballgame or concert or even just drinks and a nice dinner costs about a hundred dollars.

                  This isn’t true across the board. Just a few months ago, I attended the symphony in my city for $14 – I have an arts pass through my city I pay $75 a year for that offers me discounts on tickets to cultural events. I also had dinner and drinks at an upscale restaurant for $30 – I went before the show during what was technically happy hour, so my food and drinks were half price. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can regularly enjoy things like this for less than $50.

                4. Arts Akimbo

                  The ‘”privilege” bullshit’ comment was also pretty offensive. It isn’t bullshit that some people have to struggle more than others.

                5. Aquawoman

                  Some people view the folks at their weddings as friends, family and loved ones who are sharing in the joy of their day, not customers at their staged event.

                6. Observer

                  To go out on a Saturday night and go to a ballgame or concert or even just drinks and a nice dinner costs about a hundred dollars. It certainly does not cost 20 to 30 dollars.

                  Which is relevant why? Do you REALLY thing that everyone regularly does these things? Are you THAT unaware of the reality for a HUGE swath of the population?!

                  And even for someone who sometimes does any of these things, why is this relevant? Say I went out with my husband to a restaurant for our anniversary and really splurged. Does that now obligate me to spend the equivalent amount of money on every wedding I attend? For how long? For a year? 10 years? Why?

                7. Dahlia

                  My going out on a Saturday night costs exactly 14 dollars. 16 if I spring for a chocolate bar. That is my budget.

                8. MarfisaTheLibrarian

                  But a wedding is not entertainment that I’m paying for. It’s not a transaction. I’m going to celebrate with the couple, because *they want me to be there,* not for my own amusement.

            5. Tusky

              “Well, I think it is controversial.” Yes, that’s why I said it’s generally not controversial. The bulk of commenters here seem to be in consensus.

              “And the OP merely said it would make her feel weird…not that she couldn’t afford it.” OP wrote, “it feels weird to spend $150 on a super-fancy kitchen gadget that I couldn’t afford even afford for myself” (emphasis mine).

            6. Observer

              OK.

              So make sure that you never make friends with anyone who is not in your income bracket, and be honest enough to let them know that their income level / level is a qualifier for them to have the privilege of your “friendship”.

            7. Carlie

              I’ve never dropped $20 for an office party? $5 max, maybe 10 if there is a guest of honor and everyone is going in for a gift. (And before you assume, it’s a white-collar office.) And earlier children’s parties were mentioned as “$20-40 range” – haha nope, $10ish, up to $20 for a child’s longtime best friend. I have never seen a $100 or more wedding gift given except to immediate family members. Your version of what is “right” is 100% based on your own social circle. You can’t assume about anyone else’s.
              And registries are wish lists. If they didn’t put any low cost items there, I find that greedy and rude, trying to push everyone into a higher price range. Besides which, exactly zero etiquette advice says you have to buy off of the registry.

        4. Observer

          Just because $100 is not a huge amount to you does NOT mean it’s not a huge amount to someone else.

          The Federal minimum wage is 7.25. For someone working full time, that $290 per week before deductions. Even if someone is not at that pay scale, $100 can actually be significant portion of their weekly take home pay – like a full quarter of a weeks pay. Especially if you have debt or any other sort of significant expenses (eg medical insurance) $100 can be be the difference between paying your bills or not. Or, even if a bit better of, the difference between dealing with some fairly basic issues or not.

          It just blows me a way that because YOU and apparently your social circle all have access to money, you insist that there is some sort of obligation for EVERYONE ELSE to spend the way you can afford to.

          1. Gotta be Anon

            Even if we remove the perspective of minimum wage, $100 can be expensive. I am an individual contributor at my office job, my husband is a private school teacher; we are solidly middle-class. We also have recurring medical expenses for that result in a a few hundred dollars a month just in regular copays, without even considering the months when something flares up or there is an ER visit. We have college expenses for two of our children. Even with homeowners insurance, we’ve been hit with some urgent home repair expenses. I can’t use $100 as my baseline for what to spend on a wedding gift; because we have advanced notice of family weddings, we can budget for spending that for some people to whom we are close, but it’s not a throwaway figure even for folks who are not considered “poor.”

    1. Amethystmoon

      For single people who have to pay all of their bills, and aren’t independently wealthy, that could be easily 1/5 or 1/6 of our paycheck for a week. Not everyone can get credit cards or wants to have credit cards. Keep in mind if we have to pay our own rent, and most rent is around $1000 a month these days if not above, internet (even if you cancelled cable TV, the internet still costs money and so does Netflix), electricity, laundry services, gas to put in our cars to go to work etc., we aren’t going to be spending 1/6 or 1/7 of our paycheck on a gift. Don’t forget that eating remotely healthy costs money. I would probably just give someone a gift card to the store where they registered. Yeah, you can flame me all day, but when a person is living on literally rice, canned tuna and beans and can’t afford to watch CNN, you don’t spend $100 on a gift for someone. I wouldn’t even spend $100 at Christmas on one person. I would spend at most $30 or $40, and probably would find a way to make something homemade for less.

      1. J Kate

        I’m in a fairly low COL area but not super low. I make around 30,000/year and I help support family. I can say without question $150 is a lot of money for me. I cannot afford to go out to what many might consider a “nice” night out. I don’t have $150 kitchen gadgets. I think it’s arrogant and classist to declare categorically that a wedding guest is obligated to give something of that value.

  35. The Other Dawn

    RE: #4

    From what I can tell, OP already accepted and mostly did so because she felt uncomfortable declining. Had she not already accepted, I’d say to just decline and send a card. But she’s going so she can either skip the gift, which I think is perfectly fine since she’s already spending for travel and accommodations, or go with something small in the $30.00 range. Others had good suggestions, such as a personalized Christmas ornament (assuming they celebrate), picture frame, and gourmet-type food gift, etc.

    If Boss is upset by either of those options then, well, he’s an ass hat. (Most) couples invite people to their wedding to help them celebrate their union, not subsidize it. Any reasonable person should not be upset about the lack of a gift or the value of a gift received.

    1. anon61

      I don’t think it is about the boss being upset. Its about behaving appropriately at a social gathering for a colleague.

      Skipping the gift entirely is not considered appropriate, under any authority that I know (Miss Manners, Emily Post, etc), and is not, in my experience, ever done. Its like not bringing a gift to a child’s birthday party. The expectation, even though, of course, most people are not so rude as to demand it, is that you bring a gift.

      And a thirty dollar gift is not appropriate either.

      Wouldn’t the OP want to err on the side of doing what’s expected, rather than save a few dollars that, in the long run, don’t really matter all that much?

        1. SigneL

          There is a difference between friends and business acquaintances. (And absolutely between business acquaintances and the boss!)

        2. anon61

          Well, actually it is both. Which, to me, is all the more reason not to err on the cheap side. Why look bad in front of the boss, when you don’t absolutely have to?

          1. Observer

            Well, the OP made it clear that this is already a financial hardship. That alone is a good reason.

        3. MatKnifeNinja

          Your right. My crazy relatives EXPECT at least $20 to $50 per family member plus whatever the plate costs. Basically, the family is throwing the wedding for the bride and groom.

          The OP’s boss (if a reasonable person) would not expect that. My family doesn’t expect non family members to give that much. Coworkers give whatever and no one says boo.

          The cousin who puts $10 in a card, yeah…there will be a bunch of chirping about that.

      1. Matilda Jefferies

        If the dollars matter to the OP right now, then they matter. Doing what’s expected isn’t necessarily the goal here, and a thirty dollar gift would be absolutely fine if it were my wedding.

        If the wedding truly is about the people and not the gifts – as it should be – then even no gift at all would be fine. I did have someone come to my wedding without a gift, for reasons which she later explained but which didn’t matter at all. I was pleased that she was able to come and celebrate with me and my husband, because that was the important thing.

        1. anon61

          Its not your wedding. It the OP’s boss’es wedding. Why is what you think weddings are all about, etc, etc, relevant? OP should follow the cues set out by her boss. And give a gift at least in line with the cheapest registry gift.

          1. Matilda Jefferies

            Point taken, but then why does your opinion count more than mine? You don’t know any more about the boss’ expectations than I do.

            I’m just pointing out that not everybody feels the way you and Cynthia do, about the monetary value of the gifts someone brings to a wedding. There are lots of people who genuinely do believe that the people are the most important part, and I don’t want the OP to feel that she will automatically be looked down on if she doesn’t spend $X or $Y on a gift.

              1. Observer

                That’s actually not true.

                The registry can be the way it is for a number of reasons.

                One person told me that she only put expensive stuff on her registry because she’s perfectly happy to have her friends without ANY gifts, but “if you are going spend money, get somethings I’ll REALLY use.” And “I know that a lot of people can’t afford this stuff, but a lot of my friends are groups, so 10 of them could get together to get one gift.”

                I know a lot of people who actually set up their registry for a subset of their guests so what was on the registry was not about the general expectations that the person.

                I also know a lot of people whose registries were about “*IF* you are going to spend a significant amount of money, this is what I’d like.”

                The point being that just because the Boss put a bunch of expensive stuff on there it doesn’t mean that he expects HIS STAFF to buy from that list.

      2. CanCan

        The boss is not a child. You can’t explain to a child that you didn’t bring a gift because they’re the boss’s child and it’s not appropriate, blah blah. However, the boss should understand that economic situations are different (and the boss is likely to be better off financially), that it’s not appropriate to expect employees to give gifts to bosses, and the the OP is already spending a lot of money to come to the wedding at all.

        1. Parenthetically

          I just feel like I live in a different world than so many other people! I’ve gone to plenty of kids’ parties and never once felt obligated to bring a gift. I invited some dear friends to my son’s first birthday party and they didn’t bring a gift, nor did I expect them to. I invited them because I wanted them to celebrate with us because my son loves them, and if I’m invited to a kid’s party, I assume it’s because the family, you know, want me there to celebrate with them.

          1. Oh So Anon

            I also feel like I live in a totally different world to most people here because as a child, I was discouraged from attending birthday parties I was invited to if money was tight and we couldn’t afford a gift. Now that’s how you stop getting invites!

            I really doubt that these types of situations and the worldview that creates them are as abnormal as people here seem to imply they are.

          2. Observer

            True. But the point is that *if* you live in an environment where these gifts are common, a child might have a hard time understanding why so-and-so didn’t give a gift and might even be upset. But an adult?

      3. Parenthetically

        a few dollars that, in the long run, don’t really matter all that much?

        I am honestly begging you to contemplate that there is a vast swath of humanity who live all around you to whom $100 is an extremely meaningful amount of money. I used to have to feed myself FOR A MONTH on $100, and that was as an adult with a full-time job as a teacher. $100 is my current cell phone bill, internet, and electric bill COMBINED. $100 is now more than my weekly food budget. You are being dismissive about an amount of money that OP has already said causing her to feel the pinch, and I’m asking you to consider that your ability to be dismissive about that amount of money is about your privilege, not other people’s failure to prioritize.

        1. anon61

          Then don’t go! And I see nothing at all that indicates that the OP is in these straights.

          1. Ethyl

            Once more for the hard of thinking: poor people get to celebrate weddings, birthdays, and other life events. Not being able to afford some random amount of money does not mean they should not or cannot participate in *events they have been invited to.* Further, $100 is A LOT OF MONEY to a lot of people.

            Why are you not getting this?

            1. Packy Derm

              Cynthia, I can see this is you trying to post under other names. You need to stop. – Alison

      4. Arts Akimbo

        You are completely wrong about that. Miss Manners has said for decades that a gift is *never* required, and that anyone that treats gifts as mandatory is being greedy.

      5. Amethystmoon

        So if one has tons of student loans and is eating rice and beans, one must spend $30 on a gift even if it puts them under their bank account balance? Don’t assume that everyone has credit cards or tons of money in their bank accounts at any given time, much less more than $30. On a rent week, I would be lucky to have $30 at all.

    2. Matilda Jefferies

      It’s also an option to suddenly come down with “stomach issues” on the day of the event, if OP really doesn’t want to go. Or maybe your very best friend in the entire world is also getting married that weekend, or coming in from out of town and this is the only time you’ll be able to see her. Terrible about the timing, of course, and it’s awfully disappointing to not be able to come to the wedding, but you hope they understand and of course you want to see pictures when they’re ready.

      Truly, OP, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. Even if the invitation is from your boss, even if you’ve already accepted – you can still change your mind and not go. Most likely your boss will say something like “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear it,” and that’ll be it. Unless you have some sort of key role in the ceremony or you’re unusually close to your boss, I’m almost certain that you’re thinking about this way more than she is. It’ll be fine.

      1. Sorta Newly Wed

        Please don’t feign illness. Speaking as someone who got married in the last year, just tell me something unfortunate came up and you can’t make it so I can let the caterers know in time. I’d rather you duck out earlier or come without a gift than me drop several hundred on food/drink/etc. for someone planning to no show on purpose (versus an actual emergency – no issues there).

    3. CanCan

      Agreed. A symbolic gift is entirely appropriate, as well as a nice card. The point of a gift is to show that you appreciate the invitation and that you’ve made an effort. It’s not to help out the couple economically (at least not when it’s the boss’s wedding). No way should you buy a $150 kitchen gadget. If you can get something small and nice for $30, that’s enough. And yes, do go off-registry. It’s fine to view the registry as a suggestion, but it shouldn’t be compulsory!

      Too bad you didn’t decline the invitation! It’s perfectly fine to decline if the wedding is out of town, no excuse needed. If the wedding is in town, you can decline as well and make up an excuse. There is no obligation to go to the wedding of a boss or coworker.

    4. Bears Beets Battlestar

      I agree! I don’t remember who gave me what amount of money for my wedding. I was just happy they were there. I do think of people when I use their gifts- a nice bluetooth speaker, a picture frame, a set of mugs, etc. You do have to know your people for gifts like that, but a card by itself would be well received by most people.

    5. Kathenus

      I find it ironic that the two people who have strong feelings about this that go against the majority of commenters are doing so in the name of etiquette. Etiquette and politeness also include acknowledging viewpoints and experiences that are different from your own as being just as valid. There’s nothing wrong with respectfully agreeing to disagree, but in my opinion etiquette is also not served by not being able to look at anyone else’s perspectives and experiences on an issue without denigrating and trying to invalidate those views if they don’t align with yours.

  36. Too Thin

    #3 I am very thin too. I don’t have a specific health condition that causes it, I think it’s just genetics as both of my parents were skinny. The only time I’ve been able to gain an extra pound or two was when I was drinking Ensure in between meals, but it was too expensive to do long term for such minimal results. I also get a lot of unwanted attention and comments about my weight and what I eat. I hate it and wish I could point out how fat people are without looking bad.

    I have seen commenters here suggest saying, “Wow, that’s a weird thing to say to a coworker” in response to any unwanted comments, which I think is fantastic (it doesn’t require you to justify/explain anything and points out they’re the ones being weird). I’m going to use it immediately when I’m able to find a new job (I want to be able to stop all comments from the beginning…it feels like it’s too late to bother with my current coworkers). I think if anyone questions why it’s weird, I would say, “It’s rude and inappropriate to comment on peoples’ bodies/diets, so it’s weird that you would say that to a coworker.”

    1. Parenthetically

      wish I could point out how fat people are without looking bad.

      I really feel you on the rest of this, but “I wish I could pass the discomfort and stigma of unwanted physical attention on to others!” seems like the wrong takeaway here. ;)

      1. Too Thin

        It doesn’t seem fair that it’s socially acceptable to comment on my weight and meals because I’m skinny, but if I responded with any similar comments about their weight or what they were eating everyone would be like, “OMG. You are so mean! What is wrong with you!?!?!”

        1. Parenthetically

          It’s rude to comment on anyone’s body or food choices, socially-acceptable or not. Passing on that rudeness is vindictive and pointless.

          Whether you like it or not, your thin body is socially accepted far more than a fat person’s body. “Fat” is used as an insult, and far more than that, fat bodies receive discrimination, particularly from doctors, that is actually harmful to their health. Participating in that marginalization of fat bodies doesn’t mean you’re leveling the playing field or evening the score, it just means you’re joining in with the discrimination they face.

          It is rude for anyone, regardless of body size, to comment on or make assumptions about your body or food choices. It would be rude for you to comment on or make assumptions about a fat person’s body or food choices. Why not just leave it at that?

          (Also? Every fat person knows they’re fat.)

    2. Oaktree

      Uh… why do you want to point out how fat people are? I don’t understand what you would get out of that.

      1. Lissa

        I think she means she wishes she could turn it around on them to show them it’s actually not fun to have their body commented on, but it would be seen in a totally different light to point out someone’s heavy weight vs. someone’s light weight. At least that’s how I took it!

        1. Too Thin

          Yes, that’s what I meant. I would never make comments on someone’s weight since I understand it’s an inappropriate thing to do and I don’t really pay attention to other peoples’ weight to begin with. I never comment on what someone is eating except to say it looks good or smells good, or to ask where they got it from so I can get some.

          I don’t think most people could understand how hurtful it is to get constant comments on my weight and meals (because they think they’re being “funny” or that they’re “complimenting” me) unless they experienced the hurtful comments themselves. Which is why I wish I could turn their comments around on them.

          1. Parenthetically

            But you could accomplish the same thing by saying, “Hey, as a personal policy, I don’t comment on people’s bodies or food choices because I recognize that it could be hurtful in our looks-and-thinness-obsessed society. Can you extend me the same courtesy rather than assuming thin people are okay with commentary on their bodies?” instead of wishing you could insult them.

        2. Cat Meowmy Admin

          Agreed, Lissa – I took the statements by Too Thin the same way, actually. Of course Too Thin wouldn’t deliberately deliver a mean remark, its merely the IDEA of “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes”, and maybe the heavier person can see a similar perspective of the thinner person, and definitely vice versa.

    3. One (1) Anon

      Um. If you know how awful people commenting negatively on your weight feels, why the hell do you want to comment negatively on other people’s weight?

      Honestly, the amount of hatred the average fat person get for their weight is far beyond anything the average skinny person will get. (Note: I’ve been both.)

    4. Cat Meowmy Admin

      This is actually a very interesting and useful comment thread, and I appreciate the perspectives all around. Like you, Too Thin, I have been tall and slender (maybe *too* slender IMO) my entire life (I’m over 60). Inherited the same genetics from my parents. I have heard the same type of comments over the decades. In some cases it may be complimentary, but often the opposite. There are a few family members who are very large (used to be thin) and they have had more than their share of mean remarks and uncomfortable situations to say the least. When they share their feelings with me, I’m supportive and sympathetic, telling them how great they really look, to build them up and not tear them down. They get enough tearing down. However, they often retort to my kindness in a mean spirited manner, angry with the fact that I don’t have their problem and I have some nerve trying to acknowledge their feelings. That hurts. But I understand that it really has nothing to do with me, it’s their rightful frustration with how others treat them. So I don’t take that on and don’t react, but it does really hurt and diminishes my own insecurities that they would do to me what has been done to them. There is a remarkable back and forth on some blogs that I googled awhile back about “skinning/fat shaming” that helped me gain further perspective.
      TL;DR – The good lord created us all in different shapes, sizes, and colors. No one has the right to diminish others and I totally get your point, Too Thin. {Hugs}

    5. Aquawoman

      Your perception that fat people don’t hear about their weight from others is really not accurate at all.

      1. Amethystmoon

        Exactly. I had a fat-phobic mother growing up, fat-phobic classmates, have experienced it at work many times, and also have fat-phobic relatives. Also, all the fat phobia and diets in the world don’t make a hypothyroid person a size 6 magically, just saying.

    6. PB

      Thanks for this! This is a useful perspective. I’m sorry you’re getting pounced on. It was clear to me that you’re being facetious, not that you literally want to tell people they’re fat!

  37. Anonny

    4. Pair of cat ring holders. Useful for when they want to do the washing up or something where they might lose/damage their wedding ring, and also cats are the symbol of Freya, goddess of love and marriage. Kittens were a traditional Norse wedding gift for partially this reason (also because cats are useful when you’re setting up home on a farm). Obviously don’t give pets as gifts if you’re outside the household.

    (Non-cat ring holders also work if your boss isn’t a cat lover.)

    1. Bears Beets Battlestar

      Ring holders are really handy and you can use a few- bathroom, by kitchen sink, bedside table, etc. It’s a nice, thoughtful gift that can cost as much as you want.

    2. Sorta Newly Wed

      Something like this and a little note about the history of such an item will make it more memorable than any of the gift cards or cash gifts. My favorite wedding gifts are a pizza stone ($20) because I make homemade pizza with my husband every week, a waffle maker ($20ish) because hubs and I can do brunch together on weekends with it, and a homemade sign that was done for probably <$30 in materials that was accompanied by a sweet note. Meanwhile our InstantPot is still in the box. Money spent on a gift does not equate to enjoyment of the gift.

  38. UnusualVerbena

    OP #2, I suspect you’ll get more benefit from moving. More peace and quiet to work, plus being closer to others in your department, seems like an excellent trade-off for chatting to your boss every day. As researchers, your job is too important for you to be forgotten, so I think you’ll probably be fine. Plus, reading between the lines, it sounds like your current room might soon become a bit of a transitional nightmare.

    OP #4, This is so weird! Why is your boss inviting work subordinates to their wedding in the first place? (I’m assuming you’re not a personal friend of your boss). I can think of only three reasons off the top of my head.
    1. Misplaced politeness: Perhaps your boss thinks that they’re supposed to invite all of their work colleagues in the name of good manners?
    2. Over-enthusiasm: In a fit of excited wedding planning, your boss has invited all and sundry to witness their joyous day.
    3. Gift grab: Your boss, their future spouse, or a particularly meddling in-law has suggested inviting as many people as possible in order to increase the gift tally.

    In any case, OP, you are not obligated in any way to attend this wedding, or to send a gift. An invitation is not a summons, and technically you wouldn’t have to attend even if you were your boss’s own mother. If you haven’t RSVP’d yet, I suggest RSVPing ‘No,’ politely, something along the lines of “Thank you for the invitation to your wedding. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful wedding day for you and Sam, and a very happy future together.” You can vary that in formality depending on how you received the invitation – I wrote that reply on the assumption you received a formal invitation.

    This is assuming, of course, that you don’t want to go to the wedding. If you genuinely want to go, then a gift of $20-30 would definitely be appropriate (although not actually necessary). Something like a nice little bud vase, or photo frame, or bottle of liqueur with a couple of pretty glasses. That kind of thing would also work if you don’t want to go to the wedding, but would like to send a gift anyway.

    If you have already RSVP’d yes, it’s not too late to back out, but you should do it as soon as possible out of consideration for the couple (and stress-relief for yourself). This is trickier, but something like: “I am very sorry to have to take back my acceptance to your invitation, but I will no longer be able to attend your wedding on the 54th Grune. Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful wedding day for you and Sam, and a very happy future together,” might work. If you do have to rescind a formal ‘yes’ RSVP, it would probably be nice to send a gift (of the modest sort – not some crazy $150 registry gadget). However, not required.

    1. Packy Derm

      Never rescind an affirmative response to something you’ve already agreed to. It’s poor form and it will come back to haunt you.

        1. Carlie

          Most caterers plan for a percentage of no-shows. Things happen. It’s not the end of the world.

      1. Amethystmoon

        Sometimes things can happen unexpectedly, for exactly, a family emergency or personal illness. The other year, I was supposed to be a judge at a Toastmasters event and wound up getting injured a few days before then. The injury would have made it extremely difficult to make it there safely. A different year, someone who was supposed to be a target speaker at my contest had the flu. I’d rather have that person tell me they’re sick the day before (which they did) and not pass the flu around, then come and potentially get everyone sick. Plus, you never know in a large audience who might be immuno-compromised and such.

  39. Cows go moo

    LW1: I’m a manager and had a new employee accidentally hug me when we were being introduced. She quickly backed away obviously looking embarrassed. I pretended to notice nothing and continued chatting.

    We all empathise with awkward work moments.

  40. Lexi Kate

    #4 We had an out of town wedding specifically because we knew it meant that most people would decline the invitation. We still had several people that came and some that gave us gifts anyway. We returned a few gifts back to employees that were over $50 and one incredibly generous gift from an unpaid intern (a $250 gift card). We really felt based on their income that more than $50 felt like taking advantage. We would have returned anything the unpaid interns gave us, we have both been unpaid interns and know that gifts at that time are coming out of grocery money or are from the parents. If your boss is at all reasonable they are not expecting you to attend the wedding, and if any gift they are maybe expecting a group card and small group gift depending on your level of pay what you would spend on dinner (in my 20’s that would have been maybe $5 of the Wendys dollar menu).

    1. Willis

      I hope the OP sees this comment! I think you’re right that the boss-employee relationship tips the scales in the direction of no gift or small gift completely apart from whatever social or etiquette rules you may otherwise apply to weddings (and that other posters have argued about). The “gifts flow downward” rule trumps that, and it may be more awkward to give the boss something expensive they then feel compelled to return. OP should write a thoughtful card, possibly combine it with a small token gift appropriate to boss, and not worry further about this!

      1. valentine

        I don’t understand fake invitations and a rejected gift is a slap in the face, especially if you didn’t insist on no gifts from them, but also because there are people who insist one must ignore the request.

        1. Willis

          But my point is that, like Lexi Kate, OP’s boss may not want or be expecting large gifts from her employees. An expensive gift could make her feel awkward, and OP is in the clear to just keep it simple.

  41. blargh

    For what it’s worth, I am now medically obese after having been medically underweight. The difference in the way people treat you is astounding. So I guess my advice is YMMV- know your culture. Will it cause more grief to say something or not? I used to laugh and call it the sickness diet, but that was only among friends. People are so weird about body size sometimes.

  42. TPS Cover Sheet

    #2 Well, if you work better without disruptions, the smaller office would sound ideal. I mean as long as you are not moved downstairs to storage B and they let you keep your stapler…

  43. Marissa

    #4 I would feel terrible if I had an employee who spent more than they feel comfortable with on a gift for me on any occasion (holidays, weddings, babies, etc.). I’ve exchanged gifts with assistants for holidays in the past, and they always give me something thoughtful and handmade like cookies or ornaments, which I really value. Don’t stress about meeting the boss’s budget, meet your budget. If you boss is a decent person, they invited you because they would enjoy having you there, not to grab a gift from you.

  44. LdOff@57

    For the young person who accidentally hugged her interviewer, I had a similar situation in reverse. I went on a job interview and when it was over the INTERVIEWER hugged ME! I definitely did not expect that and have to say was slightly uncomfortable. I do live in the south and hugging is common, but I still thought it was not exactly professional (I am not originally from the south). For the record, I am a 57 yr. old female and the interviewer was about my same age. That was my first job interview after being laid off, so maybe she thought I needed a hug! Still, I did not get the job.

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