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Miss Manners: ‘Is it impolite not to answer the door when a stranger knocks?’

2 min

Dear Miss Manners: Is it impolite not to answer the door when a stranger knocks?

I answered the door for someone who was likely a scammer; I declined their offer and thanked them for their time. I later related the story to some people who said I should unequivocally never open the door for strangers.

This seems a bit silly to me, as I can think of many scenarios where talking to strangers can be beneficial. (Girl Scout cookies, anyone?) Is there a way to deter solicitors without being off-putting?

Solicitors are not easily deterred. Etiquette does not require you to answer the door to a stranger who wants to sell you something. That some will disagree (perhaps even some who are not peddling merchandise) does not convince Miss Manners she is wrong, it merely causes her to advise against being too obvious about it. That is, hiding under the bed is not required, but disapproving stares from the window are discouraged.

Once you do open the door, you have committed to some minimal interaction: thanking them, then saying that you are not interested while closing the door. Not inviting them in for tea.

Dear Miss Manners: My daughter and her fiance are having a planned elopement. Only six people will be in attendance: the bride, the groom and both sets of parents. The happy couple plan to have a larger celebration next summer with approximately 75 people.

With that background information, will you please advise if it is appropriate for a friend or relative to host a bridal shower? If yes, who should be invited: all friends and family, or just those who will be invited to the eventual celebration?

Your daughter is not eloping. An elopement occurs when the happy couple secretly flees, usually in the middle of the night and usually to avoid parental objections.

If all the parents are willing to hold the ladder — metaphorically, in the sense of being present — consent is assumed.

Your daughter is having a private ceremony limited to immediate family. This is perfectly proper, as is the celebration she is hosting next summer. She does not, however, get to plan auxiliary parties in her own honor. Friends who are in on her nonsecret get to decide whether to throw showers, bachelorette parties or any of the other modern accoutrements.

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.

© 2023 Judith Martin