A Question of Etiquette: Holiday party, plus two?

color-etiquette-12-22-16We are having a holiday party between Hanukah and New Year’s Eve. Invitees are calling to ask if they can bring other friends to the party. Basically, the answer is no, because we just don’t have room for more people, and I also think it is impolite of them to even ask. How do we say this without offending them?

Your reply is that you would love to be able to include their friends but that space just doesn’t permit and, because others have asked, as well, it would be unfair to make an exception for one and not others. You say you are so sorry to say no and hope they will still be able to come, even though you can’t include their friends. It’s not necessarily impolite of them to ask, but it would be better if they declined and explained why, leaving it up to you to say, “Oh, bring them,” or “Oh, I’m sorry. We will miss you!”


We are hosting a New Year’s Eve party, and there will be a couple of recovering alcoholics attending. We ordinarily would offer alcoholic beverages but are worried that this wouldn’t be appropriate and don’t want to cause any problems for them. What should we do?

Recovering alcoholics do not expect everyone around them to do as they do. Just be sure you also offer sparkling water and other non-alcoholic beverages in addition to alcoholic beverages. If they are unable to be around those who are drinking alcohol, they would likely decline your invitation, understanding that this would be the situation. It is up to them to manage what they do, not up to you to try to manage it for them. As nice as your thoughtfulness is, you needn’t change your plans.

My young daughter just told us that there are boys running around the playground during recess, chanting “Build a wall” and “Go home” to  some students, saying they can do that because the soon-to-be-President says it’s okay. We are horrified, naturally. We know who the boys are. Should we arrange a meeting with their parents to discuss this?

Since this is happening at school, it is better to call the principal and tell her or him. In the meantime, be sure to tell your daughter that because this is very unacceptable behavior she needs to tell her teacher or the playground monitor if it happens again. You certainly may give the principal the names of the boys who are doing this, but let him or her deal with their parents in addition to addressing this problem on a school-wide basis. Young children can’t be expected to manage situations like this, and it is likely that many students are hearing this taunting and are either influenced by it or are as concerned as your daughter is. Therefore, the intervention of the faculty and staff is essential not only to correct the behavior of the perpetrators but also to support the children who know this is wrong.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to catherine.michaels@gmail.com