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Miss Manners: How to invite guests to someone else’s party

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Some old friends of mine are fond of giving large parties with an eclectic mix of guests reflecting various occupations: arts, education, business, etc. They have asked me to invite some of my interesting acquaintances to their next one.

I’m glad to do so, since I DO know a number of interesting people whom I think would enjoy meeting others. (Let me add that these occasions do not involve fundraising or sales, but are simply for socializing.) The hosts have told me I may invite as many as I wish; I plan to ask maybe four or five.

But I’m unsure how to extend the invitations to them without it sounding as if I were delivering them up to strangers as “fresh meat.” Since some are couples, I can’t bring them as my date, and since they don’t all know each other, I can’t herd them in a group like a scout troop.

It seems incorrect for me to extend invitations to somebody else’s private party. Should I give my acquaintances’ names to the hosts, who can then add a note to their invitations along the lines of, “Mary suggested we invite you”? Or is there already some protocol for this kind of transaction?

GENTLE READER: While it is generous of your friends to extend an open invitation, it is in everyone’s best interest that they know who is being asked into their home.

What you propose, giving the pertinent names to the host and having them extend the invitation, is charming. Miss Manners is also immensely relieved to hear that these events are purely for socializing and do not have a price tag attached. Invitations to those, under the guise of meeting new people, are not so charming.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received a gift from a client who has sent other small things before. But this one happens to be very thoughtful: a monogrammed wine chiller bucket. I don’t entertain much, so I don’t know how much real use I will get out of it, but it’s very elegant, nonetheless. The problem is its monogram: The initials are in the wrong order. My initials are (say) ABC, so a proper monogram should be “aCb.” However, this one is “aBc,” where my middle initial is the capitalized letter.

What to do? Do I broach the subject with the client? I can’t imagine the company let her do it that way, but I am unsure. Do I just use it and keep it turned backwards? Or, if I ever actually use it, just make it part of a nice, amusing story?

GENTLE READER: Call the company. Tell them the situation – without placing blame – and see if they are willing to correct it. If not, let it go and turn the bucket around as you suggested.

Miss Manners discourages you, however, from making the story an amusing anecdote. There’s not much story there, and the amusement value is mostly at your client’s expense.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I politely tell my neighbor that I have already called AAA and don’t need to hand her my car keys and pop the hood? She refuses to take no for an answer.

GENTLE READER: “Thank you, but I don’t want you to get dirty. My car is particularly filthy today.” Say this while holding on tightly to your keys.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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