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Miss Manners: Guest pointed out a burned-out bulb in the middle of dinner

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: In the midst of a special Thanksgiving dinner last year, one of the other guests stopped conversation cold by asking our hostess if she realized that one of the bulbs in her antique French porcelain chandelier was burned out. I was sitting too far from the guest to kick her under the table, and our hostess could not see the lightbulb from her seat at the head of the table. Our host, at the other end, apologized immediately, as he is the custodian of lightbulbs (as well as an excellent sommelier).

I apologized to our hostess for the other guest’s rudeness and told the guest she should have either said nothing at all or waited until later and said something in private. The other guest insists it was something she thought our hostess, who had spent days setting a beautiful table and preparing our feast, would want to know. I am equally sure she did not want to know right then.

We will all be gathering again this Thanksgiving. If something similar should occur, what is the correct way to proceed? Should I make a point of sitting next to this guest so I can kick her if she says something inappropriate?

Lightbulbs burn out without warning, and Miss Manners does not consider the hosts disgraced by this, nor humiliated to have it noticed.

What is a disgrace is a guest who presumes to scold, much less kick, the other guests.

Dear Miss Manners: Our family has holidays at my mom’s house. After a toast, she insists on going to each person to touch their glass. This drives my husband crazy; he says that etiquette says you are just to raise your glass, or at most, “clink” with the people next to you. My mom literally gets up and goes to each person — and most times, we have a group of 16 at dinner.

What is a polite way to tell her this is wrong?

“Kevin tells me that there are people who consider physically clinking glasses during toasts to be rather crude. Of course we think that’s silly, but it’s probably not a good idea to make a spectacle of it.”

Or to Kevin: “Ma enjoys it. Let’s just ignore it.”

Dear Miss Manners: Is it rude to keep your Thanksgiving guests waiting to eat indefinitely because one guest is more than an hour late?

Yes. To be polite, Miss Manners instructs you to greet the tardy guest with, “I knew you would want us to go ahead, so we did.”

Dear Miss Manners: Is it proper to enclose money in Thanksgiving cards to grandchildren?

It is not a general custom. But Miss Manners is guessing that the grandchildren will not object.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin