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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: When we have out-of-town guests, what are our responsibilities?

We provide luxurious private accommodations and meals, which is to be expected. But are we supposed to pay for ALL their entertainment -- such as the ballet, symphony, concert and golf fees?

We invited a couple to stay with us, but where do we draw the line? They will be houseguests for three weeks because they will be coming from a great distance, and this was planned nearly a year ago.

If they offer to pay for anything, should we accept their offer? -- NO NAME OR CITY, PLEASE

DEAR NO NAME: The symphony, concert, ballet and golfing? Your guests appear to be accustomed to the best. The financial arrangements for these activities should be discussed with your invited guests before they arrive and before the reservations are made. If you are purchasing tickets in advance, you can easily ask for their seating preferences -- and which credit card number you should give the box office. Also, if the visitors play golf, with or without you, they should pay their own way.

Since they are staying for an extended period, your guests should reciprocate your hospitality by taking you to dinner at least once a week. You should not have to pay for everything, nor should they expect it.

DEAR ABBY: I read your column regularly and find you to be the voice of reason. On many occasions I thought about writing to you for advice -- and now I am. An invitation to an upcoming bridal shower is what put me over the edge.

Is it appropriate for the bride's mother to throw her daughter a bridal shower? And, more important to me, to include in the invitation a three-page history of the bride and groom, along with the bride's panty and bra sizes? -- HORRIFIED IN THE HAMPTONS

DEAR HORRIFIED: According to the etiquette books, bridal showers may be given for the bride by her friends or relatives -- but never by members of either her immediate family or her fiance's.

I see nothing wrong with including information about the bridal couple for guests who might not have met one of them. However, to include the bride's bra and panty sizes is disclosing far more information than necessary.

I've heard of blushing brides -- but it should be a flush of happiness, not embarrassment.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to add an act of kindness to your collection.

About two years ago, we moved to Alta Laguna Mobile Home Park in Alta Loma, Calif. We had our newspaper subscription transferred.

After three or four mornings, I commented to my wife that the new delivery person was doing an excellent job of getting the paper on the top of our steps right by the door.

Later I discovered that a widow in the park arises at 5:30 every morning and walks around the park picking up newspapers and putting them at the door of all 50 homes.

Abby, the widow is Vernon Stotts (cq), and she just celebrated her 93rd birthday. What a wonderful person.

I hope when I reach her age I am as spry and alert as she is. -- ROBERT J. WATSON JR., U.S. NAVY (RET.)

DEAR ROBERT: So do I. Thanks for writing!

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