Skip to main content

Go to party without our houseguest?

By Julie Rottenberg, Real Simple
Hosts can ditch their houseguest for an evening to attend a dinner party, expert says.
Hosts can ditch their houseguest for an evening to attend a dinner party, expert says.
  • When lipstick marks glasses at restaurant, ignore it, says manners expert
  • You don't have to attend friend's shower for fifth baby, nor give a gift
  • Hosts allowed to go out one night alone during houseguest's weeklong visit

(Real -- Readers pose their etiquette questions and Real Simple's Modern Manners columnist tells them what they should and should not do.

Question: My husband and I have a houseguest coming to visit for a week. On one of the evenings he is here, we have been invited to a dinner party. Is it OK to go? Should I ask the host if we can include him?
--- Laurie Eastwood

JULIE ROTTENBERG: First of all, you're hosting a guest for a week? My hat goes off to you, along with some sympathies and a big dollop of amazement.

As for your question, you're already being generous enough to host this guy for a week; I don't think it's unreasonable for you to go out for one of the nights he happens to be there. If you're willing and happy to have him join you at the dinner party and you're comfortable enough with the party's host to ask about bringing him, then, sure, go ahead.

But perhaps you're worried about putting the host on the spot by asking to bring a "plus two." Or secretly you may be thinking that by then you'll need a break from your guest. (This is something I strongly recommend at some point in the week, for all parties involved.)

If so, I think it's OK to head out on your own, as long as you alert your guest to your plans ahead of time. That way, he'll know what to expect and can make other plans for the night if he chooses.

But I would like to think that adult guests can take care of themselves for a night without a chaperone. So go ahead and have fun. After spending so much time under one roof, you'll probably all benefit from a little time apart. Getting ready for overnight guests

Should I wipe lipstick off my glass?

Q: I've always wondered the proper etiquette regarding lip stick/lip gloss on drinking glasses/wineglasses. I always get lipstick/gloss on the glass I'm drinking from at parties. Is it proper to wipe it off with my napkin, or do I leave it?
--- Sarah Meyer What to say in awkward social situations

ROTTENBERG: Oh, I hate you for pointing out what I've always subconsciously known but never wanted to address: the unpleasant sight of that darned lipstick mark on every glass I've ever put my lips to. (Even Vaseline seems to leave a mark, have you noticed?)

Still, as unsightly as it looks, I say this falls under the category of "Life's too short." In other words, if you're at a party (or a dinner, or a brunch, or some other function where you want to have fun and look good, otherwise you wouldn't be wearing lipstick), ideally you should be focused on having fun and being sociable, not doing maintenance on your glass after every sip. Because really, where's the fun in that?

I'm sure there are those who will argue there are ways to reduce the mark on the glass, such as blotting your lipstick after applying it, but aside from that, I wouldn't go to any crazy lengths to avoid something that's not such a cardinal sin.

And for those who will say it's the equivalent of your panty-lines showing, I say: Oh, relax and have another drink! Timeless Red Lipsticks

Must I give a gift for a fifth shower?

Q. A friend of mine is in her fifth pregnancy and having a baby shower. I have always gone out and bought nice, thought-out gifts for her, but she saves everything from her previous pregnancies, and I'm still buying expensive gifts for her. As she has never been to a shower in my honor, am I still committed to giving her yet another gift?
-- Lizzie Nixon

ROTTENBERG: First of all, your fertile-Myrtle friend is allowed to get pregnant as much as she pleases, but that doesn't mean you have to keep buying expensive gifts for her. I say, once the babies start outnumbering the parents, you can choose to pull back on your gift giving, in terms of the kind of gift you buy or whether you buy one at all.

Of course, if you're going to the shower, you probably don't want to show up empty-handed, but that doesn't mean you have to go out and buy yet another expensive cashmere onesie. You could bring cookies, or a box of clementines, or even just a thoughtful card.

Having said that -- and I know you didn't ask about this, but I can't help myself -- I say that if you don't feel up for attending yet another shower for this person, you have my permission to skip it. I'm even going to go farther out on a limb here to say I think anyone who invites people to five baby showers is in need of some kind of a talking-to.

If you've had enough of these baby showers (and it sounds like you have or you wouldn't be writing me), it's perfectly OK for you to send regrets and best wishes for another healthy baby. At a certain point, there are only so many showers we can all attend in our lives, and it sounds like you've fulfilled more than your quota for this particular friend.

Get a FREE TRIAL issue of Real Simple - CLICK HERE!

Copyright © 2011 Time Inc. All rights reserved.