Tia Ewing was joking — sort of — when she deadpanned at her baby shower that if her guests hadn’t brought a gift, they should just go.
“First and foremost, thank y’all for coming, appreciate y’all,” Walker says. “Got to shout out to everybody that played a role in this.”
“Not everybody,” Ewing says. “Because some people came and didn’t even bring a gift. Let me tell you something, this kind of gives me wedding vibes. At my wedding, a lot of people came, but they didn’t bring a gift. So if you came to the baby shower and didn’t bring a gift, you can leave.”
#guestsdontpay comes as guests are charged to attend celebrations
Guests laughed. A friend standing alongside the couple says Ewing didn’t mean what she said. “I meant exactly what I said,” Ewing reiterates. “So, if you didn’t bring a gift, you can get up and go. I said what I said.”
Walker, looking sheepish, says, “Okay,” and hands the mic back to the shower’s DJ, who then says, “Yeah, man, y’all heard what she said. You gotta get up and head to the nearest exit.”
The video, also posted on the couple’s YouTube channel, invites people to weigh in: “I asked the guests at my baby shower to leave if they didn’t buy a gift. Was I wrong?”
Comments on the video are split between those who side with the mother-to-be and people criticizing her for being rude.
“You should only invite folks who you know would purchase a gift,” one Instagram user wrote. Another wrote: “No she is not wrong, too many people take advantage of these types of events” and “eat up everything.”
On YouTube, a commenter wrote: “Even if I brought a gift, I would still get up and leave. You don’t know people’s financial situation. But even if that isn’t the case, she should have stated it on the invitations. It was crude and tacky.”
Ewing, due to deliver in October, said she wasn’t serious. She said one person did leave and quickly returned, playing up the satirical moment.
“I’m kinda a jokester,” Ewing said in an interview. “In my mind, it was partially a joke.”
“Most of the room, they know me,” she said. “They know my personality. So for them, it wasn’t offensive because that’s kind of my personality. Nobody was offended because nobody showed up without a gift, to my knowledge.”
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Ewing is serious about this. She’s adamant that if you attend someone’s birthday, wedding, or baby shower, you should bring something.
“It was kinda funny, kinda real,” Ewing said. “At my wedding, I noticed that many people came and didn’t bring a gift. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never gone to anyone’s wedding and not taken a gift. I expect that if you come to an event, you at least bring a card.”
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Ewing hadn’t expected so many people would believe she would ask gift-less guests to leave. But if there’s truth in humor, the video does illustrate an ugly trend of wish lists, gift registries, and GoFundMe campaigns for people not in need, according to Judith Martin, who pens the syndicated etiquette advice column “Miss Manners.”
Engaged couples set up websites asking friends and family to contribute to the costs of every aspect of their wedding, including the honeymoon. Folks invite you to their celebrations — a birthday or retirement party — and unashamedly expect you to cover the costs of the venue, the meal, or both. They are specific in demanding a particular present.
“People who are solvent are begging,” Martin said in an interview. “The blatant greed is probably the number one etiquette problem. Gimme, gimme, gimme. And it’s shocking.”
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“That’s how I know you still poor, broke, busted and disgusted, because of how you been honoring me,” the minister told his congregation, according to a video of his message uploaded on TikTok. “I’m not worth your McDonald’s money? I’m not worth your Red Lobster money?”
The pastor later posted a video on Facebook apologizing for his tirade.
To justify their excessive demands, people often claim that etiquette rules have changed.
“Of course, etiquette changes, just as language changes, as law changes, but in measured ways for the good of all,” Martin said. “This is a horrendous development that people are trying to gouge others to feed their greed.”
So, no, you don’t berate people for showing up at your celebration empty-handed. You shouldn’t tell them what specific gifts they should bestow upon you. Don’t hand guests the account number of the college fund you’ve established or the charity you would like them to support.
Baby showers were once upon a time informal little occasions where people gave charming little, funny things, Martin said. Gifts should be thoughtful “tokens” of affection, Martin said.
If you’re attending a baby shower or wedding, yes, you should bring a present. “But not because it’s the price of admission, not because they’re serving you champagne and wedding cake, but because you care enough about these people to go to their shower or wedding,” Martin said.
Invitations have become more like an entrance fee to people’s events and not just for milestone occasions. “It is a shocking travesty of using social relations in this way,” Martin said. “It’s become a way for other people to do your shopping. They’ve destroyed the whole idea of presents.”
Baby showers weren’t enough. Now there are gender reveals, with guests wondering if this is gift-worthy. The growing number of celebratory events is financially draining for many people, who are often too scared to say so for fear of being accused of not loving someone enough.
“Caring about somebody and being delighted that person is having a baby does not mean you necessarily want to furnish their house and support the child. Hospitality and the social relation counts for nothing,” Martin said. “You’re just supposed to come in and pay your tribute. It’s like paying taxes.”