Miss Manners: When you treat friends to dinner and they also make a to-go order – Lifotravel

Dear Miss Manners: Several times when I have invited and offered to treat someone at a restaurant, my guest has added a to-go order.

For instance, mid-celebration, a birthday celebrant received a whiny hungry call from her husband, and zap, my bill increased by $100. On another occasion, a client ordered a to-go dessert and made a faint gesture to pay — no reaching for his wallet or asking the waiter for separate checks. Of course I ate the bill. Another was a relative, and a known moocher. I should have been prepared for that one.

It’s hard to go from being generous to a hard stop. Do I just stop inviting anyone to restaurants? Is there a witty thing to say that doesn’t come off as me being a tightwad?

The first time Miss Manners heard about someone doing such a thing, she was astonished. Would anyone really have the gumption to con a generous friend like that?

Well, yes. She has now received a number of such letters reporting this petty crime — several people have done this to you, personally — and in each case, the host is embarrassed into sponsoring the fraud.

Well, don’t be. The thing to say when it happens is, “I believe this part of the order is yours. How do you want to pay for it?”

Dear Miss Manners: A close friend texted to see if my husband and I were available on a certain Saturday, three months out, to celebrate her husband’s milestone birthday. She’s thinking of having a dinner at a downtown restaurant for about five couples. (We’ve done similar events for other milestone birthdays.)

My husband and I disagree on the etiquette of how long we have to let her know if we are free. What’s appropriate?

To text her right back, of course. Were you planning to wait to see how you feel the day of the dinner? But perhaps you are confusing this with the save-the-date notification, which applies to events at least six months later and does not require a commitment.

Three months may be borderline, however. If you can truthfully say, “We’re planning a trip around that time, but don’t know the exact dates,” Miss Manners will allow you to do so, provided you also tell your friend when you expect to be able to give her an answer.

And rest assured that if there is a death in the family, or you are invited to the White House for dinner that night, you may cancel.

Dear Miss Manners: My son had a lavish wedding six months ago. Since then, despite taking several vacations, the newlyweds have not written any thank-you notes. I have reminded my son that people were very generous, and that his reputation is on the line. He agreed, but still nothing. I am mortified.

At this point, do I write to the friends and relatives who were included on our behalf to thank them for their attendance?

At least you chastised your son, and not his spouse. Miss Manners thanks you for that.

You presumably taught him better, but unfortunately, child-rearing doesn’t always take. And it never will if you let him avoid the consequences by doing his duty for him.

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

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