DEAR MISS MANNERS: When we are traveling and visit with friends or relatives, we always go out for dinner one night. We always pay as part of our thanks for staying at their house. When they come to visit us and we do dinner out one evening, we again pay, as we feel they are our guests.
No one even offers to pay either way. Seems we are always footing the bill for dinner. Who should pay and when? How do we get out of it?
GENTLE READER: The host always pays, but the question is, who is the host? Is the dinner out an extension of the invitation to stay over, or is it a way of thanking the house host and giving him/her a night off?
Miss Manners recommends not stepping outside until you know the answer.
Dessert, as you have discovered, is far too late. If you are issuing the invitation, you are the host. If your house guest suggests a night out, you can say that is so kind, and that they really do not need to take you out -- you can eat at home.