Dear Miss Manners:
When we host Thanksgiving dinner, my sister-in-law is in the habit of asking to take home leftovers. In the beginning I didn't mind too much because she was a young single parent and I felt it was a small way to help her. Of course I also felt obligated to offer my brother-in-law some too because he was still young and in college and I didn't want him to feel left out.
But then my husband's stepmother would ask to take home leftovers. By the time I dished out leftovers, there wasn't much left for us!
This year my husband's family is coming over again, and I'm cooking the dinner (which I totally enjoy doing). But, as selfish as it sounds, I don't want to share leftovers. My husband and I work full time, we have a 1-year-old, and we'll be putting a lot of work into the dinner. Leftovers have become very sacred.
My sister-in-law is now in her early thirties, and my brother-in-law is on the verge of getting married, and I don't feel they need to take home more than what is offered at dinner. (They'll also be staying the night, so I'm sure we'll have turkey sandwiches while they're with us.)
Do you think it's rude of me to tell my sister-in-law, if she asks (my brother-in-law won't ask), that this year we are not sending leftovers home with anyone?
It warms Miss Manners's heart to think of your family gathered at Thanksgiving, all squabbling over the leftovers, which you hold sacred.
If it were any other meal, Miss Manners would ask if you had tried cooking less food, but overcooking for Thanksgiving seems to be a tradition. Sharing leftovers need not be. You can say "But that's your lunch tomorrow" or "No, we're planning to make more meals out of them" or just "There isn't anything we aren't planning to use" -- but only if you promise to say it in a cheerful and uncritical way.
Dear Miss Manners:
I am in charge of planning an off-site meeting for my company, including a dinner at a local country club. I informed all attendees that jackets would be required for dinner, no tie. My CFO told me I should also include the proper attire for the ladies who would be attending.
My response to him was that it is typical to only indicate the attire required for gentlemen, and ladies always know what to wear. I followed with the example that on formal invitations "Black Tie" is indicated, but not "Black Tie and Evening Gown." Am I still correct in my thinking? Has a list of descriptions of acceptable attire for ladies been published that I have missed?
No. But not for want of trying. In the interests of evenhandedness toward the sexes, and because ladies have been known to get away with more (or rather, a lot less) than they should, clubs, restaurants and other organizations have tried to devise dress codes for ladies.
They are inevitably foiled by fashion. Gentlemen's clothing has been more or less standard for more than a century, but ladies' keeps moving. Those who tried to ban ladies' trouser suits soon found that these had become conventional. Miss Manners suggests telling the CFO that while he can direct the gentlemen, he will have to trust the ladies.
Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.
(c) 2005, Judith Martin