Real Simple’s Modern Manners columnist answers a question from Emily Martin of Richmond, Virginia.

By Julie Rottenberg
Updated October 19, 2009
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Of all the aspects about showers to single out for the “tacky” charge, the question of who hosts them would not have been my top pick. If, on the other hand, you’re questioning the practice of showers in general, well, I thought you’d never ask! It’s a loaded topic for sure, and I know I’m not the only one with strong feelings. My grandmother, for example, felt it was presumptuous to host a shower, knowing guests would feel obligated to bring a gift. More recently, a friend barely survived a seven-hour gift-and-game-dominated shower, vowing never to attend another. The good news, however, is that showers are evolving. I’ve been to coed versions, ones where gifts were not opened in the presence of everyone (a practice I would love to see die out completely), and even showers with a “No gifts, please!” directive.

These days, it really doesn’t matter who hosts, whether it’s a relative or a friend. I think the most important thing about a shower, rather than being concerned about what’s tacky or what’s dated, is to make sure that the event reflects the person it’s being thrown for―what she or he would most appreciate―and not worry about the rest.

Read more of Julie’s advice about etiquette conundrums.