DEAR MISS MANNERS: A good friend of mine has informed me that my mother-in-law is throwing a surprise party for my husband's 40th birthday.
Great idea! Except for the fact that I was totally clueless. Plus this party would be at my home.
My mother-in-law never mentioned this to me, nor did she ask permission to use my home. I'm so torn between telling my husband or not telling him. As you can imagine, I'm very frustrated and upset. What do I do?
GENTLE READER: Actually surprising the guest of honor at a surprise party is not strictly required -- although an appearance of surprise is.
But Miss Manners would have thought that surprising the host would have created insuperable logistical problems. Apparently not. Your mother-in-law overstepped the bounds of common sense, as well as good manners.
But since you support the party itself -- and presumably wish to continue good relations within the family -- the best approach is to speak directly to your mother-in-law about the party itself and not, at least directly, about not being consulted. This will leave you free to agree (or disagree) with your mother-in-law about more pressing matters such as the guest list, the menu -- and possibly the location of the party.
Your complaint is best handled by prefacing your remarks with a pleasant expression of surprise that you didn't know about the party. Your husband can then be tasked with being more explicit with your mother-in-law later.