Invitations to high school and college graduations as well as to summer weddings are now being received. When an invitation is received, good manners dictate that the invitation be acknowledged.

Acknowledgement is necessary for practical reasons. Today some schools have outgrown their auditorium and the number invited to attend graduation must be limited.

Space for the graduation may be a problem but the number of guests who must be fed is very important for the wedding.

To acknowledge an invitation, use a handwritten note or buy a card that applies to the occasion and add your handwritten note, but do reply and the sooner the better.

Understand that the receipt of an invitation does not mandate the sending of a gift. For years this myth has helped retailers but a gift is not always appropriate.

A gift is sent only when you believe it is appropriate and when you want to send the gift and then only when you can afford it. Do not go into debt or stretch your budget.

If you are going to the event and are not sending a gift, write your note on the bought card expressing regret that you can no attend, blah, blah.

If not planning to attend the graduation but are sending a gift, express sorrow that you can not attend but sincerely hope he likes the golf shirt (or whatever) that Smith Retail (or whoever) is delivering to him.

For a wedding invitation, follow the same format, also informing the couple what the gift is and where it is coming from.

Telling what the gift is and where it is coming from will allow him to check on it if it is not received, which is not unusual.

Many bridal couples still register at fine jewelry stores for their silver, china, and crysal, but also register at Target or Wal-Mart for more practical and usually less expensive gifts.

If you want the gift delivered when you pay for it, be sure the jewelry store has the item in stock. Not all stores keep a complete stock and it is not uncommon for brides to receive gifts long after you have paid for it.

Always keep your sales receipt.

Obviously, if you plan to attend, say so. The gift may be mentioned (or not) if you are sending one.

If you do send a gift, try to make it one that the receiver will cherish and enjoy.

There are those among us who consider the giving of money to be uncouth, but couth or not, you can say one thing about money – one size fits all and a gift certificate or money may be the best gift of all.

If you know the people who have invited you well enough, you may simply ask them what they would like. You do want the person who receives the gift to be happy with it.

When the gift is received, the same good manners dictate that a thank-you be sent, and promptly. If you receive too many of the same item, possibly you can discreetly return some of them for credit, but be careful how you handle this. Regifting is very popular now, so put the extra in a closet to be used later.

The ideal answer to the gift problem is a gift shelf where you store future gifts. Your brother will probably wear the same size socks Christmas as he did when you found them on a dramatic sale in July. Be frugal even with gifts.

Watch seasonal sales and store closings sales for an opportunity to get ahead on some of these gifts that you know you will wish that you had when the time comes.

Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at