DEAR HARRIETTE: The busiest season of the year has begun, and I seem to be getting a lot of invitations for events. I realize that I have gotten more than one invitation for a particular night, and I wish I could attend both events. One is a cocktail reception, and the other is a more formal dinner. Is it OK to go to the cocktail party briefly and then head to the dinner? I would be early for one and a little late for the other. I don’t want to be rude, but both are important for my work. -- RSVP
DEAR RSVP: Look closely at the invitations to see what is reasonable for you to do. If there is enough time for you to drop by the cocktail hour briefly and still arrive at the dinner before the meal will be served, go for it. What you don’t want to do is hold up the meal service at the formal event because you are tardy. You should also speak to the host of each event to explain your plans in advance. In this way, you will have managed their expectations.
When you go to the events, be strategic. Survey the room at the cocktail party. Figure out who you want to greet, and go directly to those people so that you use your time effectively. Be sure to greet the host. Since you will have already indicated that you will be leaving early, there is no need to say goodbye, which might disrupt the flow of the event.
At the dinner, arrive discreetly and do your best to insert yourself into the activities without calling too much attention to yourself.