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by Abigail Van Buren

Uninvited Guest Cleans Up On Leftovers

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I enjoy entertaining and having family over to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Our son's birthday is approaching and I'd like to get your view of something my husband's older sister, "Jane," has been doing.

Jane is 55, divorced and has been dating her co-worker "Chuck" for a couple of years. At our celebrations, after everyone is done eating and cake has been served, Jane makes up a large plate of food (without asking) and invites her boyfriend over to eat.

Chuck shows up, stands at the kitchen counter and devours the food while complaining about it. Then he helps himself to more and leaves. He never says thank you, never participates in the celebration and, frankly, wasn't invited to begin with.

How should this be handled at the next event? If I confront my sister-in-law, does that make me as rude as she is? My husband doesn't want to rock the boat. However, it bothers him, and he, too, is put off by it. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. -- AGHAST IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR AGHAST: What Jane has been doing is extremely presumptuous and to call her on it isn't rude. This should not be "handled at the next event"; it should be handled BEFORE the next event. Tell her you prefer any leftover food be saved for your own family, and that in the future, she should not invite Chuck unless she has first cleared it with you. If she can't abide by your wishes, you should not invite her.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations