Housewarming Parties: Your House is Warm Enough

Q. At what point is it too late to throw a housewarming party? Is three years too late?

A. Yes, a house warming generally is held in the first three months or so that you are in residence. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a party and entertain your friends – it just means that your house has already been warmed!

Wedding Correspondence: Thank Yous for Missing Gifts

Q. It appears that quite a few cards with check or cash in them did not make it to the bride and groom after the wedding. How do they determine if the guests did not send a gift, or if it was lost without insulting anybody?

A. In a situation like this, and it is not unusual, the best thing you can do is write a letter to the so-far non-gift-giving guests. Thank them for being with you on your special day and express your pleasure in having them there. This shows your excellent manners and enables them to write back or call and say, “gee, you didn’t mention my gift. . . did you receive it?” If you did not write, but they gave you a gift, they will assume that you did not write thank you notes to your guests. So, write those thank you notes; you can explain what happened if they call or write in response to your note. If they didn’t give you a gift, they will nonetheless be impressed that you wrote!

Table Manners: Combating Loud Noises

Q. I recently encountered a situation where was making loud noises while eating their food. I would like to know if there is a polite way of letting this person know that eating manners are offensive without too much of an embarrassment to the person.

A. No, there really is no way to correct someone else’s table manners without causing embarrassment, unless that person is your child.

Hosting House Guests: We’ve Got Company from your Company

Q. A colleague of my husband’s from another city has asked my husband if his fiancé, whom neither of us have ever met, can stay with us for two weeks in the summer while she takes a class here, so she can save money. The colleague is not in a compromised financial situation. I find this in extremely bad taste, but my husband does not and he does not mind hosting at all. I do. I think two weeks is long even for family. My thought was to say unfortunately it’s not a good time and offer to give names of hostels and other inexpensive accommodations in our area.

A. You have no obligation to entertain the fiancé of your husband’s colleague and it is fine to say you are expecting family over that time period and simply don’t have the room to be able to accommodate the fiancé. Do provide some options, such as hostels, bed and breakfast accommodations, etc. Hosting such a guest is more than providing her a place to stay – it entails sharing a private space with a stranger, feeding her, accommodating her schedule, giving her a key to your home, perhaps providing transportation, etc. A houseguest is rarely a carefree undertaking, and certainly not when it is a stranger.

Black Tie Optional: Note the Time of the Day

Q. What is the proper length dress to wear when attending a black tie (optional) wedding? The wedding is to be held at 3:00 PM.

A. You dress according to the time of day. Therefore, you would wear a dress knee to tea length, according to your personal style preference. What is throwing you off is the black tie request, which is incorrect for a 3 p.m. wedding. Men would wear suits or sport jackets and slacks to an afternoon wedding, not tuxedos.

Dining Etiquette: On Hostesses and Forks

Q. How do you know which fork to use in a formal dinner and what does it mean when the ‘hostess turns the table’?

A. You use the forks in the order they are presented, beginning with the one furthest from the plate, then the next one, etc. When the hostess turns the table she shifts her attention from the guest on one side of her to the one on the other, and all guests are expected to follow suit and talk to the person on the other side of them.

Baby Shower: Inviting the Mother-In-Law

Q. Does the mother-in-law, who lives four hours out of town, have to be invited to a baby shower from mother-to-be’s hometown friends?

A. No, she does not have to be invited, but of course it is very nice to invite her if you think she would love to be there as a grandma who probably is pretty excited about her soon-to-be grandchild.