Manners Matter: Dinner Party Hostess Gifts

Dear Mary Pat,

We often have people over for dinner and it’s something that my husband and I really enjoy. We have a great group of friends and like to see them as often as we can. There is an occasional guest, however, that doesn’t quite grasp the concept of a hostess gift. He brings a bottle of wine and if we haven’t opened it during the evening, he takes it back home with him. After the third time seeing this trick, I’ve noticed that it’s the exact same bottle of wine…down to the price tag (really?) in the same spot. When you bring someone a bottle of wine, you leave it up to them to serve it that night or they can keep it for another night. Should I say something to him or leave it be?


Wondering Over Wine

Ephraim, Wis.


Dear Wondering Over Wine,

Your first option is not to invite him ever again, but that seems extreme since at this point we don’t know if he’s clueless, cheap or rude. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s clueless. Maybe he’s still operating under the BYOB rules of college. Maybe he’s waiting for you to serve the wine and doesn’t understand when you don’t open the bottle during dinner.

That’s actually the best solution – why don’t you open the bottle while he’s there? That way he can’t take it home with him and it’s one less bottle you have to serve from your own collection. Then see what he does the next time he comes over for dinner.

You obviously don’t have friends over for dinner so they bring you things. Part of being a good hostess is making people feel at ease in your home and being gracious. Even though this is a really annoying habit of his, it’s not worth an awkward conversation.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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