Dear Barb – Contributions on the Table

Dear Barb:
I am a mature student in my first year university with very limited funds. I have received a small grant from OSAP and a small loan. My problem is most of my friends are working and making good money. When I was working I used to be able to go out and party and travel with them, now I can’t do any of those things. Even my girlfriend is working full time. I feel so bad that I can’t take her out for dinner etc. Recently we were invited to a friend’s birthday party and my girlfriend bought an expensive gift and now she expects me to contribute half to the cost of the gift. I really can’t afford it, plus she didn’t discuss with me how much we would spend. Not sure how to deal with this without causing problems between us. Thanks, Don.

Great question Don:
You should only contribute as much as you were willing to spend. Your girlfriend should have consulted you, especially since she must be aware that you have limited funds. Perhaps she could return the gift and you could buy something together that you can both afford. Or if she really wants to give the gift that she has already purchased, then she could put just her name on it and let you purchase a separate gift for them.

Dear Barb:
I love entertaining and having dinner parties, however I was very annoyed at the last party when a few guests kept their cell phones on! I prepared this beautiful dinner for my friends, but they are texting and reading status updates during dinner. I feel this is rude and diminishes all the work I have done. During dinner I tried to make a joke about the cell phones, but no one took me seriously, they just continued texting. I really love my friends and making these dinners for them. Am I over reacting? Heidi in Hanover.

Hi Heidi:
It’s great that you are taking the time organize and prepare dinner parties in your home. Cooking is an art and is not often appreciated as it should be. No, you are not overreacting; it is definitely rude for your guests to be on their cell phones during dinner. Unfortunately cell phone etiquette has not been clearly addressed in today’s society. I would suggest that before your next dinner party you make it perfectly clear that this is a “cell phone free party.” When extending your invitation, whether you do it through a phone call, or in person, advise people to leave their electronics at home! I am sure messages can wait to be answered until dinner is over! Thanks for your question.

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