I was somewhat taken aback that someone would do this (snoop in a closet), and did not know how to respond.
“Oh dear. So that’s where you disappeared. We’ll have to work on being more entertaining so that we don’t lose you to our private rooms.”
For your own edification, Miss Manners assures you that snooping is a transgression, but so is offering to give a present back. But she supposes that you learned that lesson already from your friend’s response.
Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I enjoy hosting dinner parties in our home. My husband does not drink alcohol, and I recently decided to stop drinking for health reasons. My close friends know that I stopped drinking and are generally supportive, but I have not told others.
In the past, our dinner parties always included wine, beer and perhaps a signature cocktail. We did not serve alcohol at a recent family dinner party, and I think my brother-in-law was disappointed.
In the future, must we serve alcohol? If we don't plan to serve alcohol at a party, what is the best way to convey that to our guests beforehand? I don't mind serving alcohol, and I don't mind others drinking around me, but I think it's best not to keep any alcohol in the house.
If we do serve alcohol at a party, would it be rude to ask a guest to take away any leftovers? (I suppose we could dispose of it down the drain, but what a waste for those poor grapes to have died in vain, particularly if the bottle was not opened.) And if a guest brings alcohol as a gift, what is the most polite way to handle it?
Serve it to them. Here is an exception to Miss Manners’ rule that guests should not bring food or drink when they are about to be served food or drink. You should not solicit it, but when the inevitable question of “What can we bring?” comes up, you may respond, “Thank you. We should have everything, but Murray and I don’t drink alcohol anymore, so if there’s something special you would like, we can either get it for you or it would be lovely for you to bring it.”
Then they will have been forewarned when you pack it up for them at the end of the night.
2021, by Judith Martin