DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have been together for over 40 years. We both are accomplished cooks and greatly enjoy hosting nice dinner parties for four or six guests. We have accumulated fine china, sterling silver and crystal over the years, and we enjoy setting a beautiful table and creating good food.
However, over the years, many of our guests have said how much they enjoyed the evening but that they could never reciprocate, as they cannot entertain in the style we enjoy providing. We respond that we love hamburgers on the grill, too, and that just getting together is the primary enjoyment.
Although our invitations are always eagerly accepted, and our friends seem to greatly enjoy the evening, even repeat guests over the years have failed to reciprocate. My spouse suggests we just "dumb it down," keep the sterling and crystal in the pantry and provide more simple fare. I do not agree, as this would greatly reduce our enjoyment in entertaining, but perhaps our more formal style has become obsolete in today's casual world. By the way, many of our friends are well-off, with beautiful homes.
Do we compromise our standards and give up what we enjoy doing? Or do we continue to be the frequent dinner party hosts and seldom, if ever, the guests?
GENTLE READER: Please tell your spouse that you need not "dumb down" your parties just because other people are rude.
Yes, Miss Manners knows that many will take exception to this, but she will remind them that your friends seem perfectly happy to enjoy your finery, even if they are baffled by how to entertain formally themselves. Decent people do not entertain merely to show up others. If your friends cannot find a way to reciprocate within their means, it is their problem, not yours.