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Tupelo Lemongrass Cologne. There were a lot of leftovers, though. If I receive a bottle of wine as a gift from a dinner guest and it is appropriate for the meal, must I serve it? Or is it OK not to open it at all?
Paul Mesple Fresno, California A. If it was unexpected, consider it a gift and yours to use as you see fit. I look forward to enjoying it. I have a friend who never wants to leave my house.
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Is there a nice way to ask her to hit the road much earlier? Tamara Klatsky Epstein Cheshire, Connecticut. Despite our philosophical differences over the ideal length of a social engagement, she and I, along with our husbands, still like one another a lot. So we handle the situation by acknowledging it, most often with a joke. I want to hang a sign in the entryway that asks people to remove their shoes to avoid soiling the carpet. My husband thinks that would be tacky and inappropriate.
What do you think?
Amy Hitchcock Olathe, Kansas A. Yes, you have the right to protect your new carpet from inconsiderate types who would tromp across it in wet or muddy shoes. The trick is to accomplish your goal gracefully, without admonishing anyone. Lead by example. When friends, family, or guests arrive, the first thing they should see is a few pairs of your own shoes, lined up neatly on the stoop or the front porch. When you answer the door to greet people, do it in slippers—and keep a small supply of extra, inexpensive pairs on hand to offer them. Michele Mount Alexandria, Virginia A.
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Seat the warring parties at opposite ends of the table, and with any luck they can pretty much avoid contact even when they are forced to be in the same room. How do I deal with having too many overnight guests during the holidays? Etiquette Rule No.
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This is something most hosts learn in their early 20s, after the first time they wake up on a Sunday morning and find their old friends from college sprawled and snoring loudly on the sofa. I am a slow learner, however. Here I am in my late 40s, a woman who just moved to a relatively small apartment in New York City after years of living in a comparatively large house in Northern California.
I invited my two nieces to stay here over Thanksgiving while their parents enjoy a mini-vacation at a nearby hotel. Abby and Emma are eight and six. How much room could they take up? I was about to do this the other day, I swear. But before I had the chance, I squeezed into the kitchen just in time to overhear him on the phone with his side of the family.
There would be absolutely no way to fit everyone into our apartment did I mention we also have two dogs? Someone would have to go. But who? Work together to find a resolution. Luckily, we figured out a better way to prevent hard feelings: Offer free accommodations elsewhere.
Of course, I also had a backup plan of sorts, in case we ultimately had to house all the relatives in our snug abode. Then give all the adults fair warning about the close quarters. And hope one of them volunteers to stay at a hotel. Q: If a new acquaintance invites my family to dinner, are we obliged to return the invitation if we found her husband objectionable, bigoted, and rude? I recommend finding another way to show your appreciation without matching their sit-down dinner in kind. After that, I recommend being cheerfully but consistently unavailable for future dinner invitations from them.
We have dinner plans with a couple. My wife talked to another couple and asked them to join us. Is that appropriate? Or should she have listened to me and checked with our original dinner partners first? As much as I hate to get involved in a marital dispute, I have to side with you on this one. A double date is a very different experience from a triple date, and your friends might have had that kind of more intimate evening in mind when they agreed to go out.
Before the dinner happens, do some damage control. If, however, they give you a chillier response or express a preference to keep it a foursome, then you need to call the second couple and explain that you screwed up, so that night is not going to work out. The upside to such an awkward conversation if it comes to that is that this should guarantee your wife never gets caught in this spot again.
Not long ago, my brother-in-law invited himself to stay at our house for three nights a month for a few months total while he took a college course. My husband was happy to help; I found it to be a huge imposition. How can I avoid such a situation in the future? First of all, I hope your husband is writing you love songs and giving you foot rubs every night by way of thanks. Because this is a marital issue, and one that you and your husband should have agreed upon before you set out the guest sheets. Going forward, the most important thing to determine before any visitor arrives is the duration of his or her stay—and you should err on the side of offering too few nights rather than too many.
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Think of these guests as children who will perform best if they understand their boundaries; you just have to remember to enforce them yourself. My husband and I have a houseguest coming to visit for a week. On one of the evenings he is here, we have been invited to a dinner party. Is it OK to go? Should I ask the host if we can include him?
Laurie Eastwood Via RealSimple. My hat goes off to you, along with some sympathies and a big dollop of amazement. This is something I strongly recommend at some point in the week, for all parties involved. But I would like to think that adult guests can take care of themselves for a night without a chaperone. So go ahead and have fun. He was unable to attend at the last minute, so I called the hostess to let her know.
These requirements were never mentioned on the initial invitation. I am shocked. Is it proper etiquette to uninvite a guest under these circumstances? While there are certainly all kinds of mores about crafting a guest list for a dinner party, the one rule that is nonnegotiable is that you cannot disinvite someone from a party of any kind, for any reason, once he or she has been invited.
And your story provides the perfect illustration of why: Your hostess friend was so concerned about maintaining a perfectly balanced, couples-only party that she was willing to risk insulting you and jeopardizing your friendship. What party is worth that? I would love to go, but is there such a thing as a courtesy invite? Otherwise, we could all easily wind up in paranoid spirals of insecurity and never go to another party again.
My in-laws visit frequently, and while we enjoy their company and the great relationship they have with our two children, they insist on bringing their cat each time they visit we have one small dog. The cat creates quite a mess in our guest room, including several urine stains that my husband and I have failed to resolve without a professional cleaning service.
What is the best way to tell them that their cat is no longer welcome without putting a strain on the relationship? So I can understand your dreading asking your in-laws to please leave Miss Pees-a-Lot at home. So I would advise your husband to start the conversation as you started your query to me—with all the positive stuff. Have him emphasize how much you love their visits and the great relationship they have with your children. Your husband can say he knows how much they love bringing Snuffly, and how much you all love Snuffly, but it has simply become too burdensome to have him in the house.
I planned a party for him at our home and invited family and friends. I told my mother I thought it would be rude to throw my own party. When she showed up at the party, she had a cake with both our names on it. Guests who had brought a present for my husband were embarrassed not to have one for me. How should I have handled this?
Was I right in thinking that throwing a party for myself would be rude? Name withheld upon request A.