Share “20-40-60 Etiquette---May I have my gift...”

Parties Extra!


20-40-60 Etiquette---May I have my gift back, please?

by Helen Ford Wallace Published: May 26, 2011



QUESTION: I am attending an 80th birthday party for my late father’s best friend whom I
 also consider to be my “Daddy fill-in.”  The party will be held at Remington
 Park (Oklahoma City) where the two of them spent every Friday up until Daddy’s death 1 ½ 
years ago.

Here’s the question: I have a bronze horse that Daddy gave me years
 ago which has been stored for a while.  I would like to give at as a gift, 
however, I would like it to be willed back to me in the future.  Is that rude of
 me to ask for it back?  I am very close to this family, but want to do what is


CALLIE’S ANSWER:  I am sure this is very normal. If you give the bronze, add a nice note about how much you think of him as your “daddy fill-in,” and how much he meant to your dad, etc. Then say “I would like to loan something of his to you, something that will make you smile and think of him.”


Wait a while to say anything about getting it back. It could get tricky. For example, when to ask for it back. If you think there will be too many complications, get a different gift. Sweet thought though.



LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: What a special occasion! While dads can’t ever be replaced, how nice it is to have a pseudo-dad that you’re close to and for whom you want to do something thoughtful.


As much as you want to give him something so meaningful, keep in mind that a gift is a gift, and I don’t think there is a polite way to ask for it back once it’s given. While the two of you share the close bond and care for your father, and the bronze horse that once belonged to him represents that bond, it may not have as much sentimental value to him as it does to you. I don’t think the occasion will be any less celebrated if you keep the horse from your dad that means a lot to you and find another way and gift to celebrate with your substitute father. He’s probably happy that you’re there for him to wish him well on his birthday.


HELEN’S ANSWER: Your friend would totally understand that while you want to share your bronze horse, you really want it back, but, probably it is better for you to keep it.  That way no one else has to make sure it gets back to you. When you put stipulations on a gift, it is sometimes hard for others to meet those stipulations or even remember them years later. A picture of the bronze horse in a frame might be a good substitute and it keeps your good manners in tact by not having to ask for its’ return.


GUEST’S ANSWER: Bebe MacKellar, local community leader: How nice that you have a “daddy fill-in” and that you want to honor him with something so special to you and your father.  While I do not find it the least bit rude for you to give the bronze horse as a gift with the stipulation that it is returned to you upon the death of your father’s best friend, I think it is important for you to realize that it might not be.

You need to be realistic that after the passing of the recipient you may never see the horse again.  The only way to insure you received it back would be to have the man put a note in his will that it be returned to you upon his death.  Then legally, the family would have to return it.  If this is a conversation you would rather not have with the man or his family maybe it would be more appropriate to ask the family if you could bring it as a decoration for the party so a bit of your own father would be present and it could return home with you.  Good luck!!!!!

Callie Gordon, a college junior,  was an Oklahoma City 2009 debutante. Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a former  debutante and currently the assistant features editor for The Oklahoman. Helen Wallace has written a social column for The Oklahoman for many years and has been on various local Ball committees. Guest is Bebe MacKellar, local community leader.
This group does not always agree (via age differences), but they ALL see the need for proper behavior.
Ask a specific etiquette question and you will get three answers…Then you decide for yourself how you would handle the situation. The answers have information for every age range….Callie is 20-ish; Lillie-Beth is 40-something, and Helen is 60-plus.
Please email us with your questions and  follow us on Facebook, Twitter and daily blogs. We will try to answer your etiquette questions  weekly on the Parties Extra! blog. Sometimes we will ask other people for their opinions.
Look for us!
E-mail us!

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...
+ show more


  1. 1
    Watch: Fox News host Megyn Kelly calls guest ‘confused and wrong’ over Muhammad cartoons
  2. 2
    Smartphone video of boxing clash lands blow to copyright
  3. 3
    'Shawshank' inmate arrested in Melbourne after 1959 escape
  4. 4
    Prom photo with students holding Confederate flag, guns causing controversy
  5. 5
    Real-life Hulk nearly forced to have arms amputated
+ show more