Miss Manners: I’m a school principal and my parents give me too many presents

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Dear Miss Manners: I am lucky to be the principal of a marvelous school. It’s no exaggeration to say that I receive gifts from children and parents almost daily, thanks in part to their gratitude that we have been in person during this difficult year.

Spontaneous gifts from children, such as their own personal drawings or the sharing of a birthday cupcake, are of course charming. Gifts bought by adults are the problem.

I love recognition! But the gifts are misplaced – it’s my amazing teachers who deserve these gifts. I said so in my main weekly column, to no avail.

Ours is a religious school, and I’d rather a small donation go to charity than an item I can’t use and have to donate. I had thought of a small garage sale, the money going to the school, but it would hurt the families if they found out. I can’t even return items to school for our annual sale for the same reason!

They are wonderful people and I don’t wish to hurt their feelings. I don’t want to be a curmudgeon either. Please help me understand how to phrase my thank you notes and what I could do to redirect such kindness without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Educate, like you knowing is only half your job; the other half work around obstacles, whether it’s limited resources, other activities competing for students’ interests, or even a child or parent having a less than wonderful time .

Your gift problem is not so different. Miss Manners doesn’t like to think etiquette gets in the way of anything, but she agrees you can’t refuse gifts or convert them to cash, or hurt parents’ feelings.

A complete lesson plan will include the principal’s column already printed and letters that express gratitude while mentioning that teachers are the real heroes. It could then be time for a new school rule prohibiting all principals from accepting gifts – and perhaps the establishment of a volunteer fair where these families can better channel their charitable impulses.

miss manners: Can you tell us what might be the right etiquette for who should be included in wedding photos? I’ve attended several weddings, both in my own family and in my husband’s, and the standards for family photos and videos seem to vary widely.

More often than not, we are the uncles of the bride or the groom. Although we have a warm relationship with our family members, we are usually not included in wedding photos, although sometimes we are.

It would surprise Miss Manners if you haven’t been caught in any of the wedding photography, at least in passing, now that wedding photography rivals big commercial films in the trouble it causes.

But she assumes you’re referring to settings that family members are summoned to. The label is content to bring the event to life in the memories of those who attended. After that, she only insists that taking and sharing photographs be done in a way that offends the fewest people. And that the uncles decide not to feel offended.

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

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