DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in an exotic location, even though it's simply where I'm from and where I live. I went to school in the U.S., and many of my friends from school like to come and visit me. When they come, they expect me to host them for their entire vacation. It's almost like they think my home is their hotel.
Don't get me wrong. I want to see my friends, but I am not a travel agent or a bed-and-breakfast. I can't really afford to host them the way they expect, and I also have to work. I can't be off the whole time they are at my house. But they don't seem to understand this, and they get mad at me. What should I say to them? -- Not a Hotel, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
DEAR NOT A HOTEL: It's time to speak plainly to your friends. Tell them how much you love them and appreciate them coming to visit, but state plainly that you are not a hotel. Tell them you hope they will continue to come to visit but that you need them to understand your parameters. Then lay them out.
Establish a length for visits. Describe how you hope the meals will go -- with everyone pitching in so that you don't become the sole cook or provider of meals. Talk about what you have to do while they are in town, especially if you have to work. Remind them that they are coming for vacation, but this is where you live and work. Be clear with them. You may find out that some of them may choose to stay in a hotel and visit with you rather than crashing at your place the whole time, especially if you make it clear that they cannot have free run of your house, refrigerator and time.
You don't have to feel bad about this. Remember: Your home is not a hotel, and you are not an innkeeper. You are a friend, and a good friend at that.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a misunderstanding with my next-door neighbor, who has been a dear friend for many years. I hosted an event for my colleagues at my home and did not invite her. She thought I was having a party for friends and got her feelings hurt.
When I reached out to her to talk the next day, I learned she was upset. I was really surprised, because as much as we like each other, neither of us invites the other to every event we have.
I don't think she should have been invited to this event, but I feel bad that she's upset. How can I help her to feel better? -- Next-Door Neighbor, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR: Invite your neighbor over for tea and chat with her about the event. Tell her that you hosted a gathering of colleagues and tell her a little bit about the event. Then tell her that you think she's upset because she wasn't invited. Remind her that both of you host events for different groups. Sometimes it's right to be included, sometimes not. Assure her that you love her just as much. The end.