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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Where’s That Beer Been?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Due to my own carelessness in not writing an entry on my calendar for a housewarming/birthday party, I forgot about it. The invitation from our friends was through social media, to which I had responded that I would attend.

My most important concern is what to say to apologize without sounding like the party was of such little importance that I could have forgotten it. A secondary concern is the medium to use to apologize: private message through a social media channel, or handwritten note sent via mail.

I think that I know your answer (note via mail), but is it ever acceptable to express apologies (or thanks) electronically?

GENTLE READER: Taking the time to write and post a letter, in addition to being the proper thing, will increase your chances of obtaining forgiveness. Miss Manners allows electronic correspondence for actions requiring the most minimal thanks. But as minimal apologies are not likely to sound genuine, she is hard-pressed to think of a case in which they would be either proper or effective.

The letter should demonstrate your remorse by showing your would-be hosts that you condemn yourself more than they ever could. Expressing horror at your own thoughtlessness and the deepest contrition should do it.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)