Life Advice



Who Pays For Guest's Caregiver's Dinner?

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I will be celebrating our 51st wedding anniversary soon, and we sent out electronic invitations to nine couples to share this occasion at our favorite restaurant.

The wife of one of the couples we invited has Alzheimer's; we have not seen her for over a year and have no idea what to expect. At our last get-together with her, her husband and other friends, she was very quiet and did not recognize any of her friends.

I see her husband monthly and I always ask how she is doing. When he replied to the invitation, he said he would need to bring his wife's caregiver. I responded, I'll put you down for three. I did not say anything about who would pay for the caregiver's dinner.

They have been very good friends to us over the years. We have no children and our families are spread out, making it hard to get together for special occasions, so they have included us in some of their holiday celebrations.

I plan on paying for the caregiver's dinner because I believe it is the right thing to do. But out of curiosity, what is the appropriate way to handle this situation?

GENTLE READER: The appropriate way is as you have done and are planning to do. The husband may intercede and offer to pay -- and if he fights you hard enough, you may graciously allow him to do so. But otherwise, Miss Manners suggests that you kindly include the caregiver in your tally. It is a small price to pay for the comfort of this couple and your other guests.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a dinner at my brother's house where beef was being served as the main course. I don't eat beef, and my brother and his wife are aware that I don't eat beef.

A few days before, my brother called me to tell me to bring something to eat, as nothing else would be served. I said I would just eat a salad and the side dishes, but he still encouraged me to bring something, saying the sides would also contain meat.

I arrived with a small lobster tail, already prepared, and put it on my plate when dinner was being served. Both my brother and sister-in-law began commenting how inappropriate it was for me to bring a lobster tail for myself and not the entire group.


No other person brought anything to the dinner; they all ate the beef. Was I wrong to bring the lobster tail? Should I have brought lobster tail for all their guests?

GENTLE READER: You did what you were told. Unfortunately for you, none of the other guests were informed. So it had the unfortunate result of making you look bad when, in fact, you were trying to be accommodating where your hosts were not.

That said, a lobster tail does look a bit ostentatious. If you were in a position to provide the other half of Surf 'n Turf for everyone, it would have been the most gracious course in what was, Miss Manners readily admits, an unfair situation.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)






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