Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an etiquette question: When you go to a party at someone's house, a casual dinner party with a group of people, is it customary to send a thank-you note to the host? Is a follow-up call appropriate? Or an email? I feel like I want to reach out to say thanks, but I am not sure about what level of formality is appropriate. -- Unsure, Tacoma, Wash.

DEAR UNSURE: Years ago, there was something called a bread-and-butter note that people dropped in the mail to thank the host after a lovely meal together. It is always nice to send a handwritten note to someone to say thank you. That said, it is not very common these days for people to send thank-you notes for this type of occasion.

The expression of gratitude is the most important point. The delivery can come in different ways. Placing a call the next day or soon after is a lovely choice. You can reminisce with the host about the good times you had. If the person is commonly on email, and if the invitation came via email, then an email thank you is perfectly appropriate.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got into a big argument with my husband at the end of a lovely evening, primarily because he was drunk. Well, we both had had a lot to drink that night, but he got loud and aggressive. Because he was drunk, he did not listen to me when I told him to cool it. He didn't do anything to hurt me or anything, but he was definitely loud and out of control. We were with another couple, and it was embarrassing when he kept going on and on. It continued after they left. I want to address this, but am not sure how. -- Out of Control, Racine, Wis.

DEAR OUT OF CONTROL: Because you and your husband had both been drinking excessively, you can start a conversation when you are both sober to set the stage for your state that evening. Admit that you had consumed a lot of alcohol, and ask him if he remembers doing the same. Point out the good experiences you had during that evening. Then remind your husband of how the evening took a turn for the worse.

Describe to him how he raised his voice and the specifics about how he was aggressive. Point out that your friends were there and that it was awkward to have him be so aggressive in their company. Do your best to remain calm as you reflect on the way the evening unfolded. Tell your husband that the way he behaved made you uncomfortable. Ask him if he recalls his aggressive behavior. If he does not, continue to remind him of exactly what you remember him saying and doing.

If you think it is possible that one or both of you have a drinking problem, consider going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting ( It is possible that the alcohol was the trigger for the behavior that you so disliked. Getting help for that could help eliminate the potential for such outbursts in the future.