Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Host-Guest Etiquette
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Q. Upon arriving home from a wonderful party with fabulous catered food and dancing under a spectacular tent, I discovered that my iPhone, driver's license and credit card were missing from my evening bag, which I had left at my table when I got up to dance. As the designated driver, I take my license, along with a credit card, tucked into my iPhone case, when we go out at night.
My first reaction was to tell our hostess my bad news. But I didn't. It was such a splendid party that I didn't want to taint her memories with my plight.
After a week, I emailed my thank-you expressing my delight at our having been invited and praising her hosting skills. Including mentioning details about everything from the canapés and decorations to the incredible live band. In closing, I asked her to let me know if my iPhone with my license and credit card, which I had cancelled, had turned up? Before explaining that I had wrestled with whether to mention the theft to her.
A gracious hostess, she phoned immediately saying she would start a diligent search of the grounds in the hope that the scoundrel had discarded either the iPhone, license, or credit card in the bushes around her house. She seemed tremendously apologetic and grateful that I had told her. In retrospect, I'm sorry I created a bad memory. Should I have told her or not? C.G., Southhampton, NY
A. You reacted carefully by not complaining to your host the next morning about the theft at her party. From what you say, it sounds as though you thought your response through, diligently canceling your credit card and taking time to see if your card, license, and phone turned up -- all of which are replaceable. Your initial intention was to not burst the bubble of the hostess with the mostest, and yet eventually you did. You took the middle ground by waiting to tell her.
Your hostess was no more responsible for what you lost from your evening bag than if a precious earring had dropped from your lobe and gone missing. Nevertheless, an expensive missing earring would be far more difficult to replace.
On the other hand, you had an etiquette obligation to inform your hostess about the theft, so that she could alert the caterer in the hope of initiating tougher staff screening. Even at the risk of not being invited back.
Q. What do you do as a host when you see that one of your guests has changed her place card to position herself next to your best friend's husband? L.R., Santa Monica, CA
A. Let's not overthink this. Don't let a guest get away with behaving badly. Switch the cards back to their original place. Conspire to have someone else divert the culprit's attention and then make the switcheroo. But do it as soon as you can. When the cocktail hour before dinner lasts more than a half hour, guests start getting restless, fidgety, hungry, or all three. Don't let your mischievous guest have a chance to create more mischief. When she discovers the switched-back card, she should get the message.
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