Dear Miss Manners: I just hosted a New Year’s party for my close circle of friends. First, let me say that we had a fabulous time, and it was the perfect way to ring in the new year. But as I was cleaning up, it occurred to me that most everything I bought for the party was still here.
The invitation stated that I would provide wine, beer, mixers, garnishes and desserts, and invited guests to bring one appetizer and any other beverage they might prefer. Most brought their own wine, some brought their own desserts, and some brought several things.
Therefore, there was way too much food left over, and most of what I had provided in the way of wine, beer and desserts remained untouched. I can’t help but think of the unnecessary expense — something I dislike along with excess. So, am I being too unrealistic expecting people to follow what I thought were clear instructions?
Dear Gentle Reader: If you want to assert the host’s privilege of controlling the menu, the way to do so is to provide all the refreshments. It is not by ordering take-out from your guests, as if this were a cooperative party that you had all agreed upon giving together.
Miss Manners realizes that such demands are often made. It has gotten to where other hosts complain that guests often show up with unrequested food and insist upon it being served, thus sabotaging the host’s efforts. (Miss Manners advises them to accept these offerings as presents for their future use, and whisk them out of sight.)
But you should realize that to solicit offerings is to cede control. People will then bring what they find easiest or they want to consume themselves. And many of them tell Miss Manners that they are not thrilled to accept an invitation only to find that it is, as you worded it, an invitation to contribute to the larder.
Dear Miss Manners: I co-hosted a business function, an “appreciation dinner” for about 50 of our customers. The invitees wore traditional office attire, as did I. The invitations did not specify dress.
To my dismay, my male co-host arrived in a tuxedo. I know this was obviously improper, but as my co-host is also my superior, I had no idea how to handle the situation. While I realized he looked like a boob, my concern was what to say when asked by several guests, “Oh, am I underdressed? Is this black tie?”
In most instances, this was said with a laugh, so I didn’t know if they were sharing the joke, or if they were truly uncomfortable in thinking that they had underdressed.
Is there something I could have said? I know my superior thought himself quite the dandy, so I know it will happen again next year. All I had to offer them was a rather lame, “You look just great! Can I get you something to drink?”
Dear Gentle Reader: Try as she will, Miss Manners can think of no way you can rescue someone who is determined to dress improperly: “Oh, it’s just that his New Year’s Eve party went on rather long and he didn’t have time to change”?
Address your etiquette questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners. com; to her email, dearmissman[email protected] com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews Mcmeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.