Group gift: group thanks

Q  The 10 people in my office had a baby shower for me where they all contributed to several wonderful gifts for my baby-to-be. Do I write each one of them a thank you note, or may I just write one note to everyone?

A  You may write one note of thanks to the group, sending it to one person and asking her to please circulate it or post it on the communal bulletin board, if there is one.

Q  A friend always sends group text messages, and when people reply to those texts, everyone in the group receives every single answer. This is not only maddening, having my phone beep incessantly to notify me of text messages from people I don’t even know, but also, since we all pay for both outgoing and incoming texts, it uses up my text plan pretty quickly. Is there anything I can do?

A You might speak to her and say that you aren’t sure if she realizes the situation, and ask if she could ask recipients to reply only to her. Unfortunately, turning off the group-messaging option on your phone won’t solve the problem unless all the other recipients, who are likely as annoyed as you are, do the same thing on their phones.

Q  We have been invited to a renewal of vows ceremony and a luncheon afterward. Should we take a gift?

A  A renewal of vows is a simple religious ceremony during which the couple affirms their commitment to one another. It is not another wedding, nor should it be considered one by the couple or by their invited guests. Only if the ceremony is taking place at the anniversary of the couple’s marriage and then, only if you ordinarily give the couple anniversary gifts, would you give them a gift at this time.

Q  A good friend just told me that she finds my reply, “no problem” inadequate and even rude. I guess I do use it a lot, but I certainly don’t mean it to be rude. She says it cuts off any further conversation and makes her feel like I’m really saying it is a problem. Is she right?

A  When your friend says, “thank you,” and you reply, “no problem,” it really isn’t very gracious. “You are welcome!” is a more enthusiastic reply and enables her to add on to her thanks, or you to add, “I’m so glad you like” (a gift, an outing, an act of kindness, or whatever). When your friend apologizes for being late and your reply is your standard answer, it can sound abrupt. It’s nicer to say, “Well, I’m so glad you are here now — I’ve been looking forward to our get-together.” “No problem” has crept into today’s vernacular and can be an easy answer to a lot of comments, but it does pretty much bring to a halt any further conversation on the topic and can sound more churlish than you may intend it to sound.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to