DEAR MISS MANNERS: My 13-year-old daughter goes to an elite prep school and gets invited to lots of swanky parties (lately bar and bat mitzvahs).
Our neighbor, my daughter’s best friend since toddlerhood, goes to the local public school and spends lots of time at our house. I like her very much; however, the problem is my daughter thinks it is okay to “get her invited” to parties, which means she asks the child hosting the party if she can bring a friend.
I say this is crass and completely unacceptable. She says all the kids do it and that I am being mean to her BFF. These are no backyard BBQs, but rather grand affairs along the lines of a wedding.
How can I explain to my sweet child that this behavior puts the host in an uncomfortable position and is expensive to boot?
GENTLE READER: Evidently, the potential feelings of the host have not made an impression on your daughter. You may have to wait years for that — until her wedding guests announce that they will be accompanied by their own guests.
Meanwhile, Miss Manners suggests that you point out that she is putting her friend in an uncomfortable position. Will the friend not be embarrassed to attend a party to which she was not willingly invited, and where, presumably, she does not know the host or many of the guests? Perhaps the hosts will be welcoming, but what if their manners are not up to that?
If your daughter is concerned about including her oldest and closest friend in the circle of her new friends, then she should throw a party herself and invite everyone. Perhaps, then, they will get to know one another, and her neighborhood friend will be legitimately invited to those parties.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few members of my women’s social group were trying to convince me that it is all right for a hostess to put on a luncheon and charge each attendee just enough to cover her costs. They claim this is equivalent to a potluck — after all, everyone would put money into their food items (not literally), so how could that be any different from just donating the money?
They were surprised that I did not think this was an acceptable idea — “after all, other groups do it” — but I was not able to explain the difference adequately and need Miss Manners’s kind assistance.
GENTLE READER: There is another difference that would, as it were, make all the difference:
Is this a group in that you are all just friends, and from time to time one of you invites the others for lunch? Or is it an organized group on a schedule, with gatherings held at each of your houses in turn?
While Miss Manners agrees that it is unconscionable for an individual hostess to ask her guests for money, it is also an imposition for her to order food from them.
But in a cooperative group, the person in whose house it meets is not really a hostess in that sense. How responsibility is shared is then up to the group to decide.