DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband's family lives in different areas of the country, and we see them a few times a year. He likes to invite them to a local restaurant at our expense.
It is left up to me to find a nice restaurant and make the reservations. It could be a group as large as a dozen people. Why is it so difficult to get a response from them -- a simple yes or no?
I feel terrible making a reservation for a dozen people and then, on the day of the dinner, having to change the number.
Any suggestions to make this go a little smoother and keep my blood pressure down?
GENTLE READER: It's not just your husband's family. Apparently it is nearly everybody. Miss Manners is deluged with complaints from hosts who cannot get firm commitments from their guests.
They hedge, or they don't respond at all. They accept but do not attend, or decline but show up anyway -- sometimes with guests of their own.
All they have to do is decide whether they want to attend, inform the host of their decision (with thanks) and then do it, unless there is a death in the family.
Why is that so hard?
It should be noted that when the event is at a restaurant, or catered, as a wedding may be, some people make the mistake of thinking a head count is not important. Of course it is. The hosts are likely to be charged for no-shows.
But beyond that, treating an offer of hospitality like that is insulting. Someone has expressed a desire to see you and is willing to go to some trouble to entertain you. Failure to treat that overture as important, whether or not you accept the invitation, is a clear statement that the host means nothing to you.
Please forgive this rant. You know what they should do; the problem is that they don't. And we need to get your blood pressure down.
Can you stick your husband with this job? It's his family. Or you could pick one of the relatives, possibly the most negligent one, and issue a deadline by which that person should give the restaurant a final count directly. If nobody shows up one year, it will be a lesson learned.