What is Miss Manners' opinion of the group greeting card, the kind that is "from the gang at Harry's" or whatever?

I recently signed a get-well card of this description but sent a note of my own the next day.I know Miss Manners hates condolence cards, but what about group ones? How can one refuse to sign one without seeming to call the others rude?

What about joint gifts of flowers? Is it all right to refuse to contribute? (Once I contributed money but refused to sign the card; I sent a condolence letter of my own.)

Suppose a co-worker, who has made it clearly known that she dislikes you, loses a relative? Is it kinder to send nothing? Since she is inevitably the sender of the group condolence card, no one is sending her one.

GENTLE READER - Just a minute here. Before Miss Manners answers your question about individual acknowledgments, let her see if she understands the current situation. The one person who has been tending to everyone else's losses is having her own bereavement ignored because no one else is willing to bother with the task; is that it?

That is pretty mean. Miss Manners is not crazy about group efforts, preferring individual ones, as you do, but obviously the lady concerned does believe them worthwhile, or she wouldn't have been organizing them. The decent thing for you to do in this case would therefore be to organize such a project, whether you like the lady or not.

In other cases, you need not participate in group cards or collections when you are sending your own letter. "Thanks, but I think I'll write her myself" is enough of an explanation to offer, but then Miss Manners considers you on your honor to do so.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - My father passed away last year from complications of lung-cancer surgery. He is survived by my mother, me, his widowed sister who lives in another part of the city, and many in-laws - because his sister's husband was from a large family.

These in-laws and friends of my aunt gave money for Masses to her and not to us, which upset my mother.

Mom was even more offended when my aunt did not consult us about the money but instead took it to her church, not ours, to have Masses said for Dad. She then sent us a copy of a church document listing the donors and amounts as proof.

I discouraged Mom from confronting my aunt about this to prevent even more hard feelings. I have been too upset over losing Dad to be concerned with funeral monies and Masses, but I am curious about what is the proper practice. Should such donations go to the surviving spouse or to the deceased siblings?

GENTLE READER - Etiquette does not recognize competitive bereavement. When someone is bereaved, that person's friends should offer whatever comfort they can without having to broker it through relatives whom they may not know.

Miss Manners realizes that your mother may not be on her best behavior at this time. But she urges you to suggest gently that your father is not well-honored by having his death cause bad feelings between his wife and his sister.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - I will be turning 30 in November, and my mother and I are planning a big party for my big day. My birthday wish is to go to New York, so instead of gifts, I would prefer money to help pay for my birthday wish.

However, I'm wondering if it would be tacky to indicate this in my invitations. I would welcome your opinion on how to let people know what I really want, which is money.

GENTLE READER - As Miss Manners does not share your belief that your friends will be so moved by your achievement of this milestone in life that they will be eager to sponsor any vacation plans you may wish to spring on them, she has no opinion on how to inform them of their opportunity.

She does have a desire to let you go ahead and put your greedy wish on the invitations so as to warn off anyone who mistakenly thought you just wished to share your birthday with friends, without hoping to make a profit. But she is controlling herself.

Presents should never be expected, much less solicited. This goes double for adult birthday parties, for which token presents are customarily given. And the guest of honor is supposed to act grown-up.

Judith Martin's "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children" (Atheneum) is now available for etiquette emergency consultation.

Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.