DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend of mine, who lives in the same city, recently reached out: She had invited guests to stay with her the coming weekend, but the number of guests meant that she had nowhere to sleep, so she wanted to know if she could stay with me.
I said yes, but that I would be preparing for a work trip, leaving early Sunday for the airport. I said she was welcome to stay overnight and leave the keys on the counter when she left.
I truly don’t mind having guests — it’s why I bought a place with extra space — but it feels like her agreement to host her guests has somehow ended up my responsibility. And I had only a few days’ notice to clean my house and prepare the guest room, when I assume she’s known for a while that she had folks flying in from out of town.
I know I could’ve said no, and probably should’ve, but now that I’m obligated, I’m just interested in the etiquette here. If you offer to host out-of-town guests and end up putting yourself out of your own home, is becoming someone else’s guest really the most elegant solution?
GENTLE READER: As you know, you should have said no. Your friend doesn’t know how to say no, either, or she would not find herself crowded out of her own home.
Acting against your own interests is not a violation of etiquette, but Miss Manners believes that you would both profit from learning to say “I’m so sorry, but … ”
Perhaps standing by your word, which is the decent thing to do, will remind you to refrain from making commitments you will later regret.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our daughter graduated from college this year, and if we send out the announcements we purchased, some family members and close friends will likely send her something. I understand that the announcements should have been sent following the ceremony, and I don’t intend them to be a gift grab.
The issue is that she is working overseas and will not return until the end of the year. She would be unable to send handwritten thank-you notes until well after the approved time frame.
Given the circumstances, what is the appropriate thing to do to acknowledge her accomplishments without offending anyone?
GENTLE READER: As these are relatives and close friends, why do you need the formality of a printed announcement? Can you not just tell them that your daughter graduated and is now working overseas?
Of course, if they already know, the announcements will absolutely seem like a nudge to do something about it — a gift grab, which is what you say you do not intend. What else would they be if the information is already known?
Should presents arrive for your daughter, you should tell her so that she can write her thanks. (Miss Manners is presuming that the country where she is working has a postal system.) Waiting six months for her return would leave the donors wondering whether the gifts had arrived, and your daughter claiming to have had no time to write while she was setting up her new life.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.