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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette:  Keeping Your Name + Baby Shower Update

Thursday, July 02, 2015


What to do when you want to keep your maiden name? What is the drill on baby showers these days? 

Help with baby shower etiquette

What is the current baby shower etiquette for the hosts and honoree and when it is honoring a second baby? Can there be more than one host? Can it be a couples shower? When it is a second baby, do guests bring children who are the age of the expectant mother's first child? Does it seem like a push for presents if you invite people whom you know won’t be able to attend? 

~A.C., Providence

About baby shower etiquette. The addition of a new baby, whether the parents are biological or the baby is adopted, is cause for serious celebrating. New fresh linens, underclothing, plush toys and books are undoubtedly appreciated whether it is the first, second or fifth baby. Pooling resources makes a lot of sense -- especially when so many of the celebrator's family and friends want to celebrate but don’t have time to organize a shower.

Delegating a point person for all the elements simplifies the process as long as each person understands their responsibility. Although showers for the expecting mother are the most popular, expecting couples' showers, and same-sex expecting couples’ showers are on the uptrend.

Making sure the expectant mother or the parents of the honoree have designated an online registry such as at sproutsanfrancisco.comburtsbeesbaby.com, diapers.combuybuybaby.com, giggle.com, or potterybarnkids.com makes returning duplicates or exchanging sizes much easier. Adding that information on the invitation is helpful to guests.

Finding printouts for fun games to keep guests amused can come in handy, but silly party games aren’t necessary. Especially if guests are being invited to bring their child of the same age to play with the unborn’s sibling(s).

The honoree contributes by being on time and giving a small gift to each of the hosts. Such as a herb plant wrapped cheerfully or bottle of wine to thank them for their time and contributions. It goes without saying that the expectant mother sends a thank-you to everyone who attended. The gift and gifter are carefully recorded by one of the guests for the expectant mother.

Whom to invite? In making up the invitation list with names and addresses or email addresses, the honoree can include people whom she knows won’t be able to attend as long as she also sends them a birth announcement after the baby's arrival. It is understood that retirees and relatives in nursing homes are not expected to send a gift, but they appreciate being included and often will reciprocate with a card.

The invitation itself should incorporate the honoree's name and the phrase Baby Shower, the date and time of the shower, and the exact location, as well as the name of the online registry. You are best served when the RSVP includes a cutoff date. When sending the invitation or evite two weeks before the shower date, the cutoff date should be two days prior to the party to allow for an accurate headcount for the right amount of food or beverage. An August 14th shower, should have a cutoff date of August 12th.  


What about keeping my maiden name?

I'm getting married in September and I'm thinking about whether to hyphenate our last names or keep my maiden name. Losing my last name totally would be a shock to my sense of identity. I've had the same last name for thirty-two years and I can't understand why I would have to give it up. How do other women handle the name change?  

~F.E., Boston

You don't have to give up your last name. The English have been using hyphenated names for centuries and are even known for using three names connecting with two hyphens, but with early computers that didn't read the hyphens in the names, many once hyphenated names no longer appear hyphenated. There is always the option of not using both last names with no hyphen at all, which is evident in such names as Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

About using just your maiden name, the problem is the IRS. They'll want you to hyphenate your husband's name with your own to put your Social Security number on your joint tax return. Why not use both names on your Social Security card, hyphenated or not, and continue using your maiden name professional and socially? Then pragmatically giving your husband's last name to any children you may have, or adopt, acknowledges your children's paternity. You can have it both ways. Most medical records and credit cards will take both your last name and your husband's with a hyphen or without. 

The downside -- or some might say the upside -- is that by taking your husband's last name, it will then be harder for people to find you on social media.

Approximately 20% of newly married women in the past few years have kept their maiden name --  and another 10% have hyphenated their maiden name to their husband's last name, but still use their maiden name professionally and socially. That's a rise of 22% since the 1990s. Researchers say the hike is most likely because more women are having careers and more and more couples are living together longer before getting married, so changing their name is a genuinely drastic change. Statistics show the older you are when you married for the first time, the less likely you'll change your name. 

Personally, I never legally changed my name and still use my maiden name, but the IRS changed it for me because I used my maiden name and my husband's last name on our joint tax return. Do what you have to do to keep your identity. Americans have been relaxing our traditions for decades. We are marrying later in life and less often. More often, older women are having children without getting married. And now, finally, we can legally have spouses of the same sex. Nevertheless, taking your husband's last name is still "the norm," albeit less and less.  


Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location.


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