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20-40-60 Etiquette---Time for graduation!

by Helen Ford Wallace Published: May 6, 2013


By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: We are sending out college graduation announcements for our son. At this time, so many people are hurting financially. We want people to rejoice and be a part, but they cannot even attend as the school gives four tickets only per graduate. I want to include a note in the announcement like: “Please celebrate with us during this important event. No gift, but good wishes, are required.”

Help me. I don’t know if this seems tacky. I need to get them out quickly.

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I understand that you want to celebrate your son! Putting a note on the announcement is fine! Just expect that some people will give gifts.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: You’re on the right track, and I think people will understand that graduation seating is limited and that you simply wanted to share your good news. Then they can decide whether they’re close enough to your family to send a gift or a card or just good wishes. Just because you sent a graduation announcement does not indicate to your friends that you’re expecting gifts. Whatever you say, I would keep it as simple on the announcement as you can.

HELEN’S ANSWER: It is always appropriate to send graduation announcements even though they might not be invited to attend the ceremonies. People like to know when their friends and family members are graduating. It is up to the individual person whether they send a gift or not and they will make that decision. If the invitation comes from a family member, they will probably send a gift. If the announcement is from an acquaintance, maybe not.

Probably it is best just to send the announcement and not include your note as they might think you are having a celebration. If you are having a party and they are coming to your home, great! Then you could add “no gifts please.”

GUEST’S ANSWER: Devonne Carter, licensed clinical social worker who has taught etiquette classes at Oklahoma Christian University: It is never rude to tell folks not to send gifts. I would encourage you to leave out the word REQUIRED. For some people, due to their time, it is challenging to get a card sent out! It is always fine to simply say, “No gifts please”.

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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