DEAR MISS MANNERS: My kindergartner arrived home with a princess birthday party invite. We’re new in town, and she’s going to a small private school, so I thought this was a perfect chance to meet new parents.
My husband dropped us off at a very expensive home, where there were coolers full of beer, champagne and wine. It was a Sunday and not even noon. I don’t drink, generally, and definitely not with strangers, or around my 5-year-old, or on Sundays OR mornings – never mind a Sunday morning with my child and a bunch of strangers.
I was confused, for starters, but as I spent the next two hours wandering the party, literally everyone was drinking beer and asking why I wasn’t. They didn’t even have cake or open the presents. I left at the designated party end time, right before the “beer chugging championship” began in the kitchen.
Is this normal for wealthy families? Not only am I scared to bring my daughter to another party, I’m concerned that when it’s her turn for a birthday party, we’ll be the “weird” ones who actually play kids’ games and serve cake. I’ve sacrificed to put her in a nice private school, and now fear I’ve doomed her to be the poor kid.
GENTLE READER: Do you really think that drinking and rowdy behavior are quirks peculiar to the rich?
While these parents may have shown poor judgment, they, much like you, are likely doing it in the name of meeting and socializing with other parents. If you are frightened for your daughter’s safety, you need not attend.
And when it comes to planning her birthday party, Miss Manners suggests inviting only the children. At kindergarten age, there is no real need for extra parental chaperones. If the invitation provokes insinuations of weirdness, you may say, “We wanted to make this party about Chasten and her friends. But as we get to know the other parents, we would love to have them over for an adult party another time.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I were invited to a Christmas party hosted by a longtime friend. We responded that we would attend the party, which was to be held about an hour’s drive from our home.
There is a significant snowstorm in our area. I know that with modern snow-removal methods, the roads are likely to be clear, but I am worried that conditions could worsen throughout the evening and that the roads could become slick as the temperature drops.
Since we are not comfortable driving on icy roads, I contacted the host to let her know that we would not be able to attend after all. I felt terrible about canceling after already accepting the invitation.
What is the proper thing to do in a situation like this? Should we not have accepted the invitation in the first place, knowing that poor driving conditions are common this time of year?
GENTLE READER: It is nearly impossible to predict the weather. And because Miss Manners does not wish for whole unruly seasons to forego festivity, she – and most reasonable hosts – will graciously accept last-minute cancellations for extenuating circumstances. As long as you accept that it may well be the subject of private debate whether yours were such or not.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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