DEAR MISS MANNERS: How long do you stay at an office party at your boss’s house when you really just want to “make an appearance”?
I’m just not sure if there is a protocol as to how long “an appearance” is.
GENTLE READER: The minimum length of a decent appearance must pass the highly subjective test of not leaving the hosts feeling that the two necessary exchanges -- the hosts’ greeting at the door, and the guests’ seeking them out to thank them -- have merged.
It is unfortunately difficult to reduce this to a fixed number of minutes, although it is presumably shorter at a large party. This often means that staying longer than you feel is absolutely necessary is the only guide. Miss Manners prohibits cheating -- such as taking leave of the husband, knowing that it was the wife who welcomed you.