Dear Miss Manners: I am planning a 100th birthday party for my late grandmother's recently reconditioned piano. The guests will be other classical musicians and singers.

As usual, when we all get together and there's a piano nearby, some people like to play or sing. I'll engage a pianist, too. (No tip jar!) As hostess, I'll refrain from singing unless we all get silly and, as a group, sing "Happy Birthday to Miss Wellington-Cable!"

Now I know one should never encourage or discourage gifts in an invitation for a person. But as this type of party is (hopefully) unique, I think many people may wonder whether to bring a gift for an inanimate object.

I'm leaning toward keeping to the usual "no gift mention at all" rule. However someone tells me I need to make an exception "because nobody will know what to do for a piano's birthday!" I figure I can say something when people reply, as they usually do in the South, with, "May I bring anything?"

Am I leaning the right way or am I "out of tune" here?

Reexamining the reasons behind etiquette is always welcome, never more so than when new situations arise.

In this case, however, the original reasoning still applies, namely that it is impolite to assume one is going to receive a present, and therefore one should not provide instructions on the point.

Miss Manners would not wish to presume that given your piano’s age, you will not be sending follow-up questions about wedding plans and baby showers.

Dear Miss Manners: I will be moving soon, and would like to send out moving notices to friends and family. However, part of why I'm moving is because I'm also getting divorced.

Now, of course, my family and close friends know this already. There are several friends, however, who may not know.

Is there any way to convey this on the moving notice without it being, for lack of a better word, weird? Do I just list my name and my two children on there and hope that gets the message across?

There is a logic to using a single stamp when announcing all the things you are leaving behind, but a divorce and a move are not similar enough to share an envelope — no matter how much you loved the house and how little you loved the spouse.

People with whom you are close enough to share personal information will need to be told explicitly about the divorce. For others, Miss Manners agrees that a card with the names of those making the move satisfies the requirements of etiquette. But be prepared for one or two follow-up questions.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a friend whose spouse and three children call her several times a day. Although she has made plans with me, she will answer the phone in the middle of a lunch/dinner date, coffee visit, etc.

I have explained I think it is rude to interrupt a conversation to accept a call or text. She insists it could be an emergency, every time. What else can I say?

“Was it an emergency?”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website,

2018, by Judith Martin