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by Abigail Van Buren

Hosts Trim Once-a-Year Friends From Their Christmas Party List

DEAR ABBY: For the past 17 years, we have hosted parties at Christmas. Although years ago they started with 15 guests and light hors d'oeuvres, the list has grown to 82 guests and a full buffet dinner and bar. It costs several thousand dollars when you factor in the servers and bartender, and it requires months of planning.

Over the years we have had guests who attend our party, but we never see or hear from them during the year unless it's to inquire about the party. We don't expect a tit for tat, but we are now at a point where we need to curtail costs. We feel used by these people, and would rather host a smaller gathering for people we consider better friends and acquaintances.

What I'm struggling with is how to respond when asked why they are no longer on the guest list. -- USED PARTY HOST

DEAR USED PARTY HOST: If someone actually has the gall to ask that question, I think you should tell the truth and respond that, "We have had to cut costs, and this year we decided to entertain only people we see on a regular basis."

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors