No Gifts Means No Gifts

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I recently attended a friend’s birthday lunch. The email that was sent to invite everyone clearly stated not to bring a gift. When I arrived I started to feel uncomfortable because I noticed that people had brought presents. Even the person who put together the email about the lunch for our friend brought her some flowers for the table. Later I realized that I was not the only one who did not bring a gift. However, if an invitation says no gifts, what is the correct thing to do? Do you bring a gift anyway?

Dear J.T.,
If the invitation says no gifts, it means do not bring a gift. Sometimes people do not notice that on the invitation, or think that they need to bring one anyway. If it says not to bring a gift and you want to bring something, then bring a card. As for the person who put together the event and brought the flowers, it sounds like it was for a centerpiece, which seems fine. If you ever find yourself in that situation again, do not feel uncomfortable. You are following the rules of etiquette.