Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I love to entertain. It is a labor of love to host houseguests, dinner parties, brunches and children’s birthday parties.

One thing that always leaves me stumped is what beverages to have on hand. We don’t drink much except water, tea, wine and beer in our home, and those seem to suffice for casual guests. But for a dinner party or houseguests, are there certain beverages that are considered basic necessities of a civilized home?

Just as an example, we don’t drink coffee, but houseguests sometimes do. Should I continue sending my dear husband to the corner cafe for the guests’ morning lattes, let them fend for themselves, or is it time to invest in a coffeepot (even though it would gather dust the rest of the year)?

And what to do about those quirky guests who only drink a certain brand of cherry-flavored diet soda, which could hardly have been predicted? It seems everyone has their must-have drink of choice. What are good hosts to do?

GENTLE READER: Their best. Reasonable hosts should have basics on hand -- and reasonable guests should politely make do if their choices are not available.

While it is not your duty to maintain a full-fledged bar or packaged goods store, it is, however, gracious to take note of what your more regular guests prefer and stock it when they come. And if a cheap but functional coffeepot is less effort and expense than your husband’s trips to the cafe, then perhaps consider that as well. Miss Manners is particularly fond of her French press, which she notes has many functions besides making coffee -- like brewing tea and straining shellfish. Although probably not together.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I own a motor home and frequently enjoy camping in the great outdoors at state and national park campgrounds.

The problem I have is with other campers who seem to think (or not think at all) that it’s OK to cross through our campsite on their way to the shower house, a trail, another campsite, lake shore, etc. These are children as well as adults.

As a young Boy Scout, I was taught that a campsite is a rather personal space and that I needed to ask permission to enter or cross through another’s site.

Can you recommend a way to enlighten these “trespassers” without sounding like a curmudgeonly old man telling them to “GET OFF MY GRASS”?

GENTLE READER: While not a motor homeowner herself, Miss Manners has it on good authority that you are indeed justified. Decorum and civility dictate that the parameters of your campsite be considered temporarily yours and should not be trespassed.

Rather than resort to barking at strangers, however, she advises putting a large object such as a picnic table -- or leashed animal -- near the border to help discourage traffic. You could also bring a few strands of rope lights to outline the front area of the campsite.

And if all else fails, you could always resort to staging homegrown theatrics in the form of a big blowout fight. No doubt, that will keep EVERYONE away.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

More like Miss Manners