Visiting & Entertaining
Visiting & Entertaining

Dear Miss Manners, 
	Will you please give me some rules of etiquette for people staying at 
someone's home for periods of three days or LONGER?

Gentle Reader:  
	Does your putting LONGER in capital letters mean you want Miss Manners
to tell them to GO HOME? If you did not take the precaution of setting the date 
in advance, you should start thanking them for coming.
	Getting them to pitch in may be harder, except for the kind of guests who 
take over when you don't want them to. They should be cleaning up after themselves, 
inviting you out to dinner, falling in with your plans yet leaving you free time 
by making plans of their own, volunteering for specific tasks but asking you how 
you would like them done, being good company, using their own telephones and 
pretending not to hear anything they shouldn't. 

Dear Miss Manners, 
	When is it appropriate or inappropriate to have a housewarming party? I
am recently divorced and am buying my first home. As with many divorces we split
most everything, and I cannot afford to replace many needed items at this time.
What is the protocol? Am I supposed to register for items that I need or ask for
gift cards or just take what I can get?

Gentle Reader:  
	What exactly is warm about this plan? Miss Manners seems to have missed
the part about how eager you are to welcome your friends to your new home. You
have gotten right down to the business of whether you can make them help furnish
your house.
	Not politely -- and not reliably, even if you are willing to be so
impolite as to indicate that your welcome is dependent on their not showing up
empty-handed. Some may want to give you presents, others may feel they have to do
so, but the last time Miss Manners checked, presents were voluntary, not some
sort of tax that a host can levy on guests. 

Dear Miss Manners, 
	My brother brought his fiancee to dinner at my house for the first time, 
after telling me how much my mother would like her because of her good manners. 
I served a formal dinner, or at least not a casual one, in our dining room with 
nice table linens. 
	When I was doing the laundry afterward, I found that the fiancee's dark 
lipstick was smeared all over the hand-embroidered napkin she had used. After 
several launderings with different stain removers, I've had no success in removing 
the offending stain. 
	As a hostess, should I expect this to occur and simply throw away the 
napkins after a meal, or should I offer paper napkins instead? (Or perhaps I need 
laundry tips?) I've had many dinner parties without encountering this problem. My 
brother is now married to her and I haven't yet invited them for dinner.

Gentle Reader: 
	Miss Manners's mind has flashed ahead to when you and your sister-in-law 
are old ladies and she finally works up the nerve to say to you, "I had always 
hoped we would be close, and all these years I've racked my brain trying to think 
what possible thing I could have done to offend you. You gave that lovely dinner 
for me 40 years ago, when I was first engaged, and then never again from that day 
to this. I understand your house is lovely."
	What are you going to say? "Well, sure, except for that napkin you ruined, 
that hand-embroidered napkin! You didn't think I was going to give you a chance to 
do that again, did you?"
	True, hosts should not have to expect their guests to use their napkins as 
makeup towels. Still, let's see if this relationship can be saved without having to 
resort to paper napkins. Miss Manners doesn't do laundry tips, but you could ask 
your sister-in-law for one. Enough time has gone by that it should not seem pointed 
if you get into a cozy household discussion.

Dear Miss Manners,
	How do you deal with people who invite themselves? 

Gentle Reader:
	By apologizing profusely for being unable to let them in. 

Dear Miss Manners,
	I'm an accomplished piano player who enjoys playing a wide variety of
musical styles and composers. The piano is one of my most enjoyable hobbies.
	I also like to host small dinner parties (six to 10 guests) frequently. 
Is there an appropriate way to offer some musical entertainment -- even if for
just five or 10 minutes -- at some point during an evening together? If so,
how? I'd love to share my music with friends. 

Gentle Reader:
	Certainly, provided you first share with them the plan for the evening.
Miss Manners said "share," not "warn," because she thinks this sounds delightful,
but it is within the realm of possibility that there are some people who might 
not. If your invitation mentions both dinner and music, you will head those 
people off, and be able to trust the applause and shouts for encores more than 
if you had taken them by surprise. 

Dear Miss Manners,
	When you are having a party, dinner or whatever the occasion, and you 
state a time that it starts, what do you do when a guest comes unexpectedly an 
hour early? 
	What is the proper etiquette on handling guests arriving to a party
before the start time of the event? 

Gentle Reader:
	First you reassure the embarrassed guest that he need not be embarrassed
by saying, "I'm so glad to have a chance for a real visit with you before the 
others get here." Then you leave him sitting alone in the living room while you 
finish getting dressed.

Dear Miss Manners,
	Please tell me how best to let guests know it is time to leave without
offending them. 
	Saturday evening I had several people in for some Christmas cheer. It
came around to 10:15 p.m. and I was beginning to get tired. One of the guests,
an elderly lady, was actually dozing in the armchair! As no one wanted any 
more to eat or drink, I began quietly to tidy up the dirty dishes, while my 
guests continued to chat to each other. They began to leave shortly afterward.
	The next day my mother, who was also there, wondered if one couple had
been offended by my actions, as they seemed to want to linger. 

Gentle Reader:
	If your mother was there, why wasn't she helping? No, not with the 
dishes. With the guests. 
Why wasn't she saying, "My, my, I had no idea how late it is," and "I wonder if
anyone would be good enough to see me to my car?" Miss Manners hopes she 
realizes that supplying next-day criticism isn't a mother's only function. 
	If what you mean by tidying up was that you made an occasional foray in
to the kitchen, just to get the dishes out of the way, that would be all right.
Setting out the breakfast dishes or asking them to lift their feet so you can 
vacuum the rug would not be. 
	The mere fact that they eventually went home is not sufficient evidence
to prove to Miss Manners that you insulted your guests. 

Dear Miss Manners,
	Is there a specific amount of time that should be spent with each of 
your guests beyond greeting each one and making sure they are enjoying
themselves? My husband and I hosted an open house for 42 relatives and
friends, and certain members of my husband's family informed us that we
didn't spend enough time with each guest. 

Gentle Reader:
	Suppose Miss Manners were to say that you should spend at least 20 
minutes with each guest. That doesn't sound like an unreasonable amount of 
time to socialize with relatives and friends, does it? 
	The only difficulty might be when you do the arithmetic and find that 
42 guests at 20 minutes each comes to 840 minutes, or a 14-hour party. Better
get a lot of groceries. 
	Perhaps this suggests that large parties are not the place for deep 
visits.	You might want to find time to visit with these people individually. 
Or, if they were just being snippy, you might not.

Dear Miss Manners,
	After a guest in our home damaged a kitchen chair (he was tipping 
back on the chair's back legs), it was found to be beyond repair and we were
advised to have it replaced. Our friend was very apologetic and offered to 
pay for the replacement on more than one occasion. 
	Thinking him sincere, we supplied him with the replacement value of 
the chair (it was solid wood and rather expensive). He wrote a check for the 
piece but included a scathing letter claiming it was a "breach of etiquette" 
to expect him to pay for the chair and went on to make several unkind remarks
about my husband's character. 
	My husband responded by immediately writing a letter of apology and
voiding the check. I'm afraid the friendship is beyond repair as well. How 
should we have handled this situation? 

Gentle Reader:
	What you have here, Miss Manners is afraid, is a sore winner. Not to
mention a former friend and a broken chair.
	Etiquette requires that a guest who broke something offer to repair
or replace it, that a host insist that this is not necessary, that the guest 
insist it would make him feel better to do so, and so on. Furthermore, it 
requires that each appear to be trying to win, winning in this case meaning
absorbing the cost.
	So far, so good. You both did your parts. Now Miss Manners supposes 
you want to know who should win.
	This is a complex question. Ordinarily, the host should win, 
considering that wear, tear and an occasional whoops are a normal part of 
running a household. 
	But if the item is valuable, and the guest was misusing it (no fair
setting up your rickety antiques that dissolve into kindling when a guest so 
much as looks at them), you can let him win. Such was the case here.
	But that is no longer the question. The breach of etiquette in 
insulting your husband cannot be fixed.

Dear Miss Manners,
	One morning, when I was visiting my grandparents, I made a bowl of 
cereal and poured in the milk. As I ate, I tasted something sour. I realized 
that it was the milk.
	I didn't tell my grandparents because I didn't want to hurt their 
feelings. So I just ate the cereal and not the milk. Should I have told them, 
or was I correct about keeping quiet?

Gentle Reader:
	Although she appreciates the sweetness of your worry, Miss Manners 
supposes that your grandparents would not take the spoiled-milk problem 
personally. Especially if you put it as, "Oh, dear, the milk is spoiled--want 
me to run out and get some?" It is not as though this were a complaint 
involving their judgment, such as the comfort of the house or the amusement 
value of the activities they propose.

Dear Miss Manners,
	We have relatives who can never be on time for anything. This is not a 
big deal for a barbecue--but for a sit-down holiday dinner . . .
	I am having Thanksgiving dinner this year for the entire family. These 
are actual comments I've heard over the past two weeks:
	"How late can I be before I inconvenience everyone?"
	"We'll be late--hope your dinner won't be ruined."
	"Dinner at 4? We might make it by 4:30 or 5."
	"We can't make it that early--back dinner off an hour, will you?"
	I used to switch the time around--trying to suit everyone (impossible). 
Or I'd tell them one hour earlier, but the late ones would still be late. I 
finally had it and responded:
	"No, you won't ruin my dinner, because we are eating at 4."
	"Oh, you won't inconvenience anyone--because dinner is at 4, as planned."
	"You can't make it ? Sorry, we'll miss you."
	Don't people realize how much work it is to cook a holiday dinner for 25
to 30? Or how ignorant and inconsiderate they are being by holding up everyone 
	Well, now I'm the villain--but only to the third of the family who's 
always late. How should I have handled this differently? Is there any way to get
them anywhere on time?

Gentle Reader:
	Why should you handle this differently? It seems to Miss Manners that it
was high time that you spoke up, and that politely doing so gives everyone in 
this situation what he or she wants.
	Your late guests get to be late, which they are going to be anyway. If 
Miss Manners knew a magic phrase that would cure lateness, she would be 
bottling it and selling it on street corners.
	You and your prompt guests get to eat dinner as planned, when the food 
is at its best. When the tardy arrivals appear, they should be welcomed and 
given a plate of congealing food.
	Whoops. Miss Manners is doing the very thing she was about to warn you
against next: allowing a sarcastic tone to creep in. That you must not do. 
Instead, you must deliver your ultimatums in a voice of regret, and spring up 
to welcome the late guests with the assurance, "I knew you wouldn't want us to
	It may be of comfort to you to know that going in to dinner at the 
appointed time, regardless of whether all the guests have arrived, is not only
reasonable, but has the highest American precedent. George Washington made it a

Dear Miss Manners,
	My new fiance and I are living together, and we are bickering over 
dinner conversation protocol. He thinks that if we are serving dinner in our 
house, we have the right to tell guests gently but firmly that they should 
change the subject if the conversation takes an arguable turn. 
	This clash of entertaining styles arose when an old and dear girlfriend 
and her husband were over for dinner. They began a bit of a tiff that I think 
often happens to married couples, but is ultimately of little consequence. I 
admit it went on a bit too long and I did take my girlfriend's part over her 
	My fiance first asked nicely that we change the conversation. He was 
ignored, and then he asked again, but raised his voice. Although he apologizes 
for raising his voice, he still maintains that in his house he has the right to 
ask that the conversation take another direction. 
	In fairness, my fiance also feels that, in someone else's house, they 
have a right to suggest a change in the conversation if they feel that the 
subject is unpleasant or that the people are acting unpleasantly. 
	My philosophy for entertaining is that, short of strong verbal or 
physical fighting, I want to be gracious to my guests and level no restrictions
on their conversation or behavior whatsoever. Since we plan to entertain 
together again, we need to know whether a host can suggest a conversation 
change and still be a good host.

Gentle Reader:
	The answer is yes, a good host can suggest changing an unpleasant 
conversation. But not by shouting, "Will you two cut it out? We've had enough 
of your bickering!"
	If simply bringing up a new topic doesn't work, he should say quietly 
(note: quietly) but pointedly, "Let's talk about something else, shall we?" If
that is too subtle--and Miss Manners has no trouble imagining that a couple who
fights in public has problems handling subtlety--it should be, "This is really 
not for us to hear, you know."
	This is not a right, but an obligation, and it does not cancel the 
obligation you cite of being gracious to guests. Think of it as protecting your
guests from one another, and from embarrassing themselves.

Dear Miss Manners,
	I was invited by a friend for a week's visit, and I was brought up to 
believe that I was obligated to bring my host a gift or present a monetary 
appreciation of my stay. (When I invite someone, I expect no kind of payment or 
reward.) Upon leaving, I presented my friend with a $200 check and her daughter, 
who lives with her, with a $100 check. I overheard her say to her daughter, "We 
made out pretty good at this, didn't we?".
	Since I had paid for every dinner of mine when we went out to eat, I 
thought this remark rude and crude and not the attitude of a true friend. Since 
then, I have not visited them.
 	Do you think I am justified in feeling offended? Is it a usual practice 
or courtesy to pay for a visit to family or friends?
Gentle Reader:
      	Miss Manners is very sorry to tell you that it is you who caused the 
offense. She is even sorrier that she is about to cause some herself by casting
aspersions on the rule by which you were brought up. She is emboldened to do so
because you already suspect that there is a better way than the one you were 
taught, which is why you offer your own hospitality freely.
    	Generosity in offering hospitality is a hallmark of civilization. To pay 
a friend or relative money as compensation for visiting is an insult, which is why 
gratitude must be expressed indirectly to one's hosts by bringing or sending a 
present, taking them out (not just paying your own way), and, of course, 
reciprocating the invitation. You should be relieved that your friend turned it 
into a joke.

Dear Miss Manners,
	My spouse and I had his widowed mother and younger (adult) brother as our
guests at our vacation home last summer. We were happy to assume the financial 
burden such an expensive trip would have put on them, as we are in a better 
situation than they and thought they would appreciate seeing the area and 
spending time with us.
	We were therefore rather dismayed when, upon arrival, my brother-in-law 
demanded that we pay the additional cost to add his name to the rental car 
agreement so he wouldn't be "stuck" with us the whole time. My husband explained 
that we could not afford it, and his brother let the issue drop, rather than 
volunteering to pay it himself.
	Several times during their stay, I asked their mother to perform some 
minuscule function to assist me in my chores, and I was met each time with the 
response, "I'm not doing anything -- I'm on vacation!" And she didn't.
	On another occasion, after I had listened politely to my brother-in-law 
recounting a story that was of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever, I 
requested his attention for what would have been perhaps 10 seconds, to look at 
some information on my computer screen. He immediately shot back with "I'm not 
interested," and ignored me. I was hurt, but said nothing about his behavior at 
the time, in the interest of harmony.
	My husband, who had observed his brother's behavior, explained to him 
that he had just been very rude to me, but failed to elicit an apology. His 
brother later wandered away at a crowded public event and was missing for over 
an hour. Upon my husband's finding him and escorting him back, no explanation or
apology was offered, and I chose not to make a scene. I informed my husband 
privately before they left that, because of their inconsiderate behavior, they 
were never being invited back, and he agreed. Now, we understand that they have 
both fallen in love with our summer home and are intending to return next summer.
How do you suggest that we handle this?

Gentle Reader: 
	How about lending it to them for a weekend? No, bad idea. Miss Manners 
supposes they would submit an expense account for food and incidentals.
	It is not as easy to avoid inviting relatives as others, because 
relatives speak up more readily, and because they have ways of finding out what 
you are doing. So here is what you are doing:
	Next summer, you may be having some guests, but only those who help out; 
you are also planning to have a real vacation yourself, free of the need to wait
on guests. Since having guests and not having guests are the only possibilities,
that should cover whatever you want to do.
	Should the reply be that they will help, you should demur by saying, "Oh,
no, I'm sure you don't want to run the household while I get rested." Perhaps 
skipping a summer will put them in a better frame of mind.

Dear Miss Manners,
	I need to know if it is appropriate for a guest (especially family) to 
give money to help with food, bills or what have you after they visit for a 
weekend or a couple of weeks. My mom always feels that you should give the 
homeowners something to help make up for the extra electricity or food bills.
    	I don't agree. I have had 16 family members at once in my house, and I 
don't expect them to buy anything. It is a once-a-year visit, and I just get 
    	As a daughter visiting some weekends, should I pay? Even if I visit an 
aunt with my husband and our three children and help buy groceries because she is 
a single parent of two, should I leave her money when I leave?

Gentle Reader: 
      	Of course you shouldn't be paying your mother, or any other hostess, to 
visit her. But Miss Manners is wondering whether you should be helping to support 
    	Considerate guests, even if they are the hostess's children, have plenty 
to do without insulting their hosts by indicating that their precious gift of 
hospitality has a price tag on it. They should clean up after themselves, help 
with the additional chores, provide treats and, for extended stays, take over the 
responsibility for an occasional meal, either by taking their hosts out or by 
doing the shopping and cooking. They must also reciprocate, preferably without 
checking to see whether the electricity their guests use is no greater an amount 
than they used at that person's house.
    	However, if your relatives are in need, you should find a way to help them
financially, without tying it to any visits you may make.

Dear Miss Manners,
	My husband and I have just retired and it is our desire to travel about 
and visit the many friends we've made during 40 years of marriage. We will be 
traveling via car or plane. What is the proper way to get "invited" to spend the 
night or a couple of days in their home? 

Gentle Reader: 
	First you have to unpack those quotation marks you have around the word '
"invited." To Miss Manners' sensitive ear, they suggest that you hope to billet 
yourselves on your friends, whether they wish it or not. 
	Unless you are talking about people with whom you are already on 
house-visiting terms -- who have stayed with you and have urged you to visit them 
-- you should not ask to stay overnight. This puts the targeted host in the 
awkward position of having to fend you off, and many people cannot bring 
themselves to do that. 
	Miss Manners hopes that is not what you had in mind. She arms hosts 
against this sort of thing with a warmly delivered welcome: "How wonderful that 
we'll have a chance to see you. I'm so sorry we can't put you up, but please let 
us know where you'll be staying." 
	To encourage something more practical, the most you can say is, "We'll be 
down your way and we're eager to see you." Then pause. If no invitation is 
forthcoming, you may add, "Is there anywhere nearby we can stay?" 

Dear Miss Manners,
    	What is the time frame in which a housewarming party can be given? I read
somewhere that a housewarming party should be given within a year after purchasing
the house but that after a year a housewarming party would not be appropriate 
because the house would no longer be considered new. I know that most warranties 
for new homes are for a year, but would this translate into the appropriate period 
for a housewarming party?

Gentle Reader:
	The warranty has nothing to do with it, Miss Manners is afraid. And the 
house doesn't even have to be new.
	The test is whether it is newly enough in the possession of the present
owners that their friends can still have a wonderful time wandering around saying,
"I wonder if they know that that's dry rot?" and "That must be the undercoat -- no
one would choose that as the final color." If they have already had the opportunity
to do that, then there is no point in giving the party.

Dear Miss Manners,
	Since there's no longer a "his" towel (actually, I no longer see those 
"his and hers" sets that were popular several decades past), how can I make it 
clear that the towels on the rack are mine?
	My place is small, hence the one bathroom must serve for both my guests
and myself. Though space is limited, I do have a basket of hand towels always 
available for their use. I wish some of my friends would do the same. There have 
been times I've dried my hands on my petticoat rather than the much-used "my" 
towel hanging in their bathrooms.
	Rather than insult them by labeling the basket "For Guests" (and some 
friends and family do not consider themselves "guests"), what can I do? Short of 
standing guard and directing them to use the guest towels (which isn't practical 
when I am busy elsewhere with other guests), or simply removing all but the guest 
towels from that room (which also is not practical, as I often have -- and do 
heartily welcome! -- drop-in guests), how do I inform them that the towels in the 
basket are for their use?
	Some of my family and friends are aware of the protocol and do use guest 
towels without being offended, but then another dilemma occurs: What to do with 
the used guest towel? In my instance, there is enough space on the vanity top to 
leave the used/damp towels, but is there a better solution for those of us who 
practice good hygiene along with hospitality? When I am elsewhere and they do 
provide guest towels, but there just isn't an empty spot to place it, what do I 
do with the used towel?
Gentle Reader:
      	Could someone please explain to Miss Manners how the guest towel got to be
the great totem of modern times? She can't wait to hear the part about why people 
think it is more polite to allow their hosts to realize, when they clean up after 
the visit, how many hands they have shaken that were apparently never washed after
    	It strikes her that if people were to exercise only one form of 
self-restraint out of consideration for others, they might pick something better. 
Such as not scooting into parking spaces that other people are already positioned 
to back into.
    	Use the guest towels, folks. That's why they're called guest towels. And 
leave them crumpled on the rack or sink or basket, so the host can put them in the
wash when you have left after a hygienic embrace.
    	Efforts to cure guests of this inhibition have been pitiful. Some hosts 
put out small terry-cloth towels in the hope that guests will think they use them 
for quick baths of their own, and that therefore anyone is free to grab them. 
    	Or paper ones, with the idea that the guests will figure they can destroy 
the evidence of their transgression, although not, one hopes, by making these 
disappear into the plumbing.
    	There are even hosts who have gone over the brink themselves and go in for
a horror they call a "decorator towel" put out to tantalize guests who are not 
expected to use it.
    	Miss Manners is afraid the taboo may be too powerful. She suggests 
removing your bath towel when you have warning, and, when you don't, issuing your 
own warning by calling out, "I'm afraid I've left my bath towel there -- but there
are towels for you in the basket."

Dear Miss Manners,
	I don't drink wine and rarely serve it. My niece's French husband found it
strange --  impolite? -- that when he brought me a bottle of wine, I didn't open 
it immediately. Other times, guests bring wine to a dinner party, and one bottle 
would not serve everyone. Must I open and share it? 
Gentle Reader: 
	Miss Manners does not blame your nephew-in-law for finding this habit 
strange, not because he is French, but because it is silly. Of course you can't
use one bottle for a lot of guests, which is why it is not a good present to hand 
over before dinner. The polite host accepts such a present gracefully and puts it 
aside, saying, "Thank you, I will think of you when we enjoy this."

Dear Miss Manners,
	I am an American living in Spain, and I recently had the opportunity to
meet the king and queen. Because I am an American, I did not curtsy, but a friend
told me that I should have since I am in their country. Who is correct?

Gentle Reader: 
	If your friend is also an American, you may want to suggest that it is
time for home leave. Friendly as we are with Spain, we do not pay obeisance to 
foreign rulers. One-world enthusiasm is a wonderful thing, but let us hope that 
she doesn't get carried away and join some other country's army.
  	Bowing to royalty is something quite different from making a charming 
effort to use the ordinary etiquette customs of the country you are in and of 
being respectful of their leaders, which Miss Manners trusts that you were. It 
would be an acknowledgement that you are the king and queen's subject, which you 
are not. Your nationality does not change when you travel.
	Even if your friend does not know international protocol, you may be sure
that the king and queen do. They do not expect Americans to greet them other than 
as Americans greet American leaders in a respectful but upright manner.

Dear Miss Manners,	
	When entertaining people in one's home, for dinner and an evening visit, 
is it appropriate for the host or hostess to bring the visit to an end when he or
she feels that a reasonable time has been spent and the conversation is still 
viable? Is the intent of having pleasant memories and good conversation to be 
continued at a later date sufficient, or should the guests be allowed to 
determine when it is time to leave? Should the guests be offended if the visit 
was concluded before they decided it was time to leave?
Gentle Reader:
	The answer is no, it is not appropriate to dismiss a guest in one's home.
The real question is how the host can get away with doing it before bursting into
tears of exhaustion.
    	Miss Manners has heard all the standard ploys, from cutting off the drinks
to changing into pajamas, but prefers the simple but gracious alternative. That is
for the host to jump to his feet and say, "It's been wonderful having you here," 
for all the world as if he had heard the guest say, "I'm afraid I'd better be 
going now."

Dear Miss Manners,
	I would love to give my husband a 50th birthday party but cannot afford 
drinks. Would it be rude to have a cocktail party, but ask the guest to bring the
cocktails or wine? If not, what is a clever why of including it in the 
invitations? I'm embarrassed to ask as some of the guests are not close friends. 
Thank you for your time.

Gentle Reader: 
	Miss Manners is afraid she is not clever enough to persuade people you 
don't even know particularly well to cater a 50th birthday party for your husband. 
	Besides, this would require more than cleverness on your part. It would 
require dimness on their part. She recommends giving your husband a celebration 
you can afford, even if this consists of only an extra kiss over watered drinks 
for the two of you. 

Dear Miss Manners,
	I would like to get your advice on what is considered etiquette with 
regard to being on time. I have a friend who is anal about being on time. She is 
under the impression that being early for a dinner invitation is far more 
acceptable than being a few minutes late. 
	A few weeks ago, my husband and I invited her and her friend over for 
dinner. I explained to her I would need some time after work to allow me to get 
organized and changed for the evening, and said that between 7:30 and 8:00 would 
be a good time. 
	Well, right at 7:30 they were at my door. I was still in my work clothes
and had just finished mopping the floor. This was the first time we had guests in
our new home. I had been looking forward to giving them a tour and explaining the 
renovations we had done to it. The enjoyment of this was taken away from me as it
took me about half an hour to mentally calm down about their early arrival. 
	Could you please tell me whether she was out of line in doing this? I had
always thought it was considerate to the hostess to be a little bit later, in this
case, to arrive no earlier than 7:45 or 8:00 p.m. This happened a few weeks ago 
and I'm still angry when I think back about it. Please tell me if I am mistaken. 

Gentle Reader: 
	Certainly: You are mistaken. Feel better now? 
	That was quite an outburst, Miss Manners has to say. You invited your 
friend to come to dinner between 7:30 and 8, and she arrived at 7:30, which 
spoiled your evening. And you figure that it is her fault for failing to 
understand that 7:30 meant 8, rather than yours, for not tell her to come at 8. 
	You are, Miss Manners repeats, mistaken. Guests should not arrive early, 
and they are permitted to arrive 15 minutes late for a dinner, but they are not to
be called "anal" for arriving at the appointed hour. 

Dear Miss Manners,	
	Last night, some friends of my husband came over for dinner and a video.
They brought a lot of fruit with them for us all to share as dessert. After dinner,
I cut up some of the fruit and put it out on the coffee table for us all to share 
during the video.
	As our friends were leaving, I spied some bags of fruit I did not cut up 
sitting on the counter. I offered some of the remainder of the fruit to our friends
to take home with them. I thought that, while they brought it for all of us, it was 
really a lot of fruit, and our friends might enjoy it the next day.
	After they left, my husband told me that he thought that it was rude of me
to return some of the fruit to our guests; that our guests bought it for us and I 
just returned a gift. I thought that if we kept the fruit, we would be hoarding.
I wonder if Miss Manners can clear this up. Is it rude to return something like 
this to guests as they leave? Or, is it rude (as I thought) to keep the overflow 
of our guests' generosity? I suppose this is similar to someone coming over to 
one's house with five bottles of wine, when everyone can really only drink two
Gentle Reader:
	It's not whether you keep the goods (although Miss Manners has heard 
equally indignant reactions from donors who were not offered their leftovers and 
those who were) but how you do it. Contributions to cooperative meals are not 
presents but should be acknowledged gratefully nevertheless. "Here's your bag of 
fruit," sounds as if you want to make sure your guests have no excuse for 
returning. "The fruit was delicious, but we can't possibly eat all that's left" 
would give them the opportunity to accept it back or insist that you try.