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Miss Manners: Party invite comes with bill attached

Judith Martin And Nicholas Ivor Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received a call from a colleague inviting me to a 60th birthday party he is planning for his boss. I do not socialize with this colleague or his boss, although I know them both.

I wanted to turn down the invitation, but to be polite I said that I would mark it on my calendar, but wasn’t sure if I could attend. Then the inviter replied, “OK, I’ll be collecting $10 or $15 ahead of time for the party.”

Now I’m completely turned off! Even if I could attend, I certainly don’t want to fund the party. What can I do to turn down the invitation, and to point out to the inviter that he should fund the party that he wants to throw for his boss?

GENTLE READER: The anti-hospitality inherent in charging a guest is unfortunately common. In your case, however, Miss Manners notices that things might not have gotten to this stage had you yourself not misstepped.

Good manners do not require you to accept every invitation, but they do prohibit the conditional acceptance you gave – and in the mistaken belief that it was more polite. Your host no doubt now feels fully justified in charging you in advance, having heard that you expect him to prepare for your arrival, but feel yourself under no obligation actually to attend.

Consult your calendar and give the answer you should have given initially, namely that you are flattered to have been invited, but that you find you are unfortunately unable to attend.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What’s the best way to delay announcing a winner when no winner is available in a promotion or when nobody won?

GENTLE READER: Promptly. Certainly before word leaks out, and you have to fend off people volunteering to cash the winnings themselves.

Most announcements of the type you describe are attended by those who have an interest in the outcome, and the news that there may still be a chance for them will not, Miss Manners trusts, come as a disappointment.

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