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–JG, Boston, MA
- Great cheeses (if the host is not lactose intolerant).
- Fine wine or handcrafted beer (if they're not AA).
- Handmade chocolates (if not diabetic).
- An attractive coffee table book about their favorite subject or a racy novel.
- Taking photos of your hosts interiors, children or pets and sending them copies would show thought and time commitment on your part, but wouldn't cost much.
- Offering to cook a gourmet meal and providing the ingredients is an excellent way to contribute and show appreciation.
- Being a good guest starts before you arrive when you clarify the time you are arriving and leaving. If you come early, your host may not be ready for you. Should you be arriving later than you had anticipated, he may hold dinner for you, if didn't call him about your delayed flight.
- Be cautious when you're a guest bringing along another guest. When you're planning on bringing a date or a pet, be sure to have consent beforehand from your host, because someone in the house may be allergic to dogs. If you usually fly solo, there is always the possibility that you were invited to the house party to be introduced to another guest, which would make bringing a date awkward.
- Should you have strict dietary restrictions, bring your own food and don't make a nuisance of yourself by talking about what you can't eat. Fit in with the meal plan.
- A good guest is self-sustaining in other ways too by going off on their own to explore. Ask if there is anything you can bring back back? Milk, dog food, cold beer, paper towels?
- Find out what you can do to contribute and help out with meals.
- Don't be on your phone the whole time.
- Make only positive comments about the house, the hosts and their friends.
- Ask how to leave your room at your departure. Do you fold your sheets and towels and stack them at the foot of the bed? Or do you drop off soiled linens into a laundry basket down the hall? No matter what, empty your wastebasket and don't leave the remains of food and beverages behind in your wake.
–AB, Newport, RI
- If you're renting, you can use that as an excuse.
- If you've had unpleasant incidents in the past, that's an even grander excuse.
My question is about neglectful parenting.
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I maintain a full bar for entertaining. I think it’s part of being a good host, but I’m wondering if I haven’t kept up with the times. Should I stock Red Bull and similar beverages?
–ES, Chicago, IL
- The FDA actually put a ban on the sale of pre-packakaged caffeine-and-alcohol drinks because the caffeine can mask alcohol's effects with the result of a person drinking too much too fast.
My question is about selfie etiquette.
To my horror and dismay my college student niece posted a selfie of she and my sister just after she passed away. I want to ask her to take this macabre selfie down but my husband and our sons say that it would be adding insult to injury. My sister would be mortified. What do you suggest?
–Name Withheld, Cos Cob, CT
- Try to understand how a daughter experiences the loss of her mother.
- What does she feel she has lost with her mother's death?
- As hard as it may be, keep all judgement to yourself.
- Disregard the selfie incident and let it go.
- Lighten up her heart by telling her funny and interesting stories about her mother, to show how much you appreciated her, too.
- Not only did you and your niece lose your sister, but you both lost an important relationship, and in those relationships a sense of self that existed in those bonds.
My question is about etiquette in whatever gender restrooms.
In an all-gender bathroom, is it OK to ask if the people on either side of you could pass you toilet paper? In an outdoor all-gender restroom at a concert, I wasn’t sure if I should intrude on other people’s privacy. I know now that I would certainly try to help the person out.
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My question is about an utterly casual yacht wedding.
My boyfriend and I are invited to a wedding taking place at sea on a yacht. What do we wear? What should we know about a yacht wedding? The dress code is Utterly Casual. Since there are 150 guests we don’t want to be underdressed or overdressed. We’re not sure what Utterly Casual means for a wedding on a boat!
- Most important is footwear. Shoes should be broken in so they won't slip or slide on slippery high polished flooring. Don't wear spiked heels that could damage any wooden floors.
- Your boyfriend would wear a navy blue blazer or any lightweight linen jacket, a collared open shirt and dress khakis, colored or white trousers with possibly a rubber sole shoe. A tie would be optional.
- As the bride will be dressed super casually, you wouldn't want to wear anything that might be dressier than what she's wearing. A jumpsuit would be terrific or any dress that moves well in the wind and on the dance floor that's not puffy with fabric or tacky with sequins.
My question is about doctor patient confidentiality. My husband and I are currently without health insurance and he’s been taking an over-the-counter anti-depressent called SAM-e, which makes him irritable and at times either whiny or overly-anxious — or both. His primary physician doesn’t know he is taking SAMe. But I feel I should tell him. My husband insists it is as good, if not better, than any of the expensive prescription antidepressants he took when we had health insurance, pre Obamacare. Should I just be happy that he is no longer depressed and grin and bear the whining and anxiety.
–Long-Suffering Wife, West Bath, ME
- For instance SAM-e could possibly affect bleeding risk if your husband is also taking any drug that affects bleeding, such as aspirin or blood thinners.
- Or if he takes a drug to control his blood pressure.
–AV, Newport, RI
–PO, Newport, RI
We’re planning a Newport Picnic in August and need some tips on how to make it work well. Please give us some dos and don’ts.
–Jennifer, Providence, RI
- Organize ahead of time, plan the menu and do the advance work.
- Base the picnic food around a signature drink: Pimm's cup, Dark & Stormy, Cosmopolitan and craft beer from a local brewery.
- Even if you're serving sandwiches or prepared food from a local eatery, pack colorful napkins, bamboo flatware and plates, tubs for ice, spices, salad dressing, and colorful tablecloths or light weight blankets.
- Include prep tools for putting the picnic together: a sharp knife and cutting board, serving spoons, opener for bottles and cans, trash bags and paper towels for cleanup. Be safe about spoilage and take a thermometer for the coolers to keep track of the temperature of any salads with mayonnaise, egg dishes and meats.
- Plan blankets for everyone to sit on and have a fully charged wireless speaker.
- Text the location dropping a pin in a map app with the location.
- Ask everyone to bring water, those with food allergies and restrictions should bring their own food.
- Know who is bringing what.
–Name Withheld, Stonington, CT
- On the one hand, you wouldn't want the scapegoat clerk who was following orders to get fired.
- So that leaves the culpability to the culprit, the person who ordered the clerk to embarrass the member in front of her friends.
- Tell someone close to the president your story and let them deal with it as they may.
- It sounds like a matter of policy. How to inform a member that he's not paid up.
When addressing a letter to the secretary of state of your home state, do you address them as the Honorable ….?
–HB, Torrington, WY
- Go and have a glorious time celebrating your half-brother-in-law's milestones.
- Forget about the slight that you feel was made toward your son and his wife. If they weren't invited, they weren't invited.
- They're adults and can handle it.
- You would be making a nuisance of yourself if you made a fuss.
- Be a fence mender.
- By not attending the fête you will only be widening the gap.
Accepting A Compliment