DEAR MISS MANNERS: I planned a party for New Year's Eve with many close friends. I awoke on New Year's Eve day with the flu and throughout the day eventually called everyone and canceled the party. I feel guilty, as some of my guests were upset because they could not make plans at another place on such short notice. Did I do the right thing?
GENTLE READER: It does sound as if you missed an opportunity to give these people the flu. But no, we don't do that kind of thing. Miss Manners congratulates you on being a great deal kinder to them than they turned out to deserve.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How long must you wait on guests to arrive before you decide to go ahead and eat?
My sister and her husband routinely run very late for dinner or lunch at my mom's house. On Christmas they were one hour and 30 minutes late! Everyone was there, including their own children, who took separate vehicles.
My mom wants to wait until everyone is present before we start. We called their house and cell phone and got no answer. My dad decided that we needed to go ahead. I was in agreement. The food was getting cold and we had to end up reheating it.
Personally, I think it is very rude to be so late. I make sure my family is there on time. But they just don't seem to get it! They are late 100 percent of the time. And it is usually at least 1 hour.
GENTLE READER: We have august precedence for the rule that absolves people from staring at rapidly chilling food. George Washington decreed that he would not delay dinner for tardy guests. And he was citing an even higher authority: his cook.
As your hostess and presumed cook dissents, you must try persuasion. It may alleviate her misgivings if you tell her that Miss Manners considers it a kindness to the tardy guests not to have to bear the responsibility for spoiling dinner for the others. She recommends bringing them to the table when they arrive by saying, "We went ahead because we knew you wouldn't have wanted us to wait."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is is possible to reciprocate too quickly? My twin brother and I hosted a New Year's Day dinner party, mixing out-of-town guests with local friends. As the party was obviously drawing to an end, a friend issued an impromptu invitation for the group to go to his house for more champagne (and a tour of his lovely home). Most, including my brother and I, accepted his kind offer for the continuing festivities.
Is this impromptu invitation considered reciprocation by our friend? We are at a loss as to who issues the next invitation. By the way, my brother and I quickly reciprocated to our New Year's Eve hosts -- on the following evening, although the invitation was issued (and accepted) several weeks earlier.
GENTLE READER: Your dinner guest was continuing your dinner party, not reciprocating, so he still owes you. But his other guests now owe him as well as you. However, you and your New Year's Eve hosts are even, which is a good thing, because Miss Manners can't figure out who reciprocated to whom. Is there any champagne left?