Miss Manners: Declining wedding shower invitation without sending gift

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Dear Miss Manners: How can I politely send regrets to an invitation to a coin shower (a shower where you give money instead of gifts) without feeling obligated to send a contribution? (I plan to give a cash wedding gift, as the couple requested.)

The shower invitation provides a phone number and an address in another state. I don’t know the hosts. Is it gauche to reply by text?

“Coin shower”? And this, Miss Manners is to understand, is only the warm-up to the “cash tsunami” that is the wedding? How charming.

But you only asked about how to send your reply. A text is probably fine, given the casual circumstances. But a handwritten response is always better — if only to show that the guests are less gauche than the person who decided on that type of shower.

Dear Miss Manners: My husband is very handy, and he works for himself flipping houses and doing construction. Every time we get close to new people, they seem to expect him to fix their home needs: leaking plumbing, doors that stick, any home maintenance that they don’t know how to handle.

What is a polite way to say no? We feel especially uncomfortable when we know someone is not in a good place financially. He always ends up saying yes, resentfully, and now he doesn’t want to make any new friends at all because they all seem to want to use him as their personal handyman.

He has no interest in doing their work in any manner — not free or for money. He has enough on his plate!

And that right there is the polite way to say no: “I am very sorry, but Scott is just so busy right now, he doesn’t have any extra time — even to help out a friend. I’m sure that you, as an overworked and exhausted (insert asker’s occupation) understand how precious any time away from work is.”

Miss Manners’s hope is that no matter the profession of your brazen new friend, they will easily be able to relate to the objection of providing free labor.

Dear Miss Manners: We had a friend visit us from out of town. She told us she would like to take us out to dinner one evening and asked us to choose a restaurant. We chose a very moderately priced place that we knew and liked. When the meal was over and our friend was given the bill, she exclaimed at the total, making comments about how pricey it was, how restaurants charge so much, etc.

I was mortified. When I regained my power of speech, I stammered that I was so sorry and offered to pay for our meals. She refused, but kept going on and on about the cost, like it was a joke we all shared.

I finally got up and left the table on the pretense of showing our toddler a parade that was passing by. How could I have handled this more gracefully?

If your friend was not prepared to pay for even a moderately priced restaurant, she should not have proposed that you choose it. Still, Miss Manners suggests that next time, you give your friend a few options and have her choose one herself. That, or stick to restaurants that are on the local parade route.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.