Life Advice



Make Guests Accommodate Their Uninvited Plus-Ones

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do I do when guests bring their own guests to our house?

I am not a practiced hostess, so I plan everything beforehand: menu, dishes to use, tables needed, etc. I've had guests show up at the door with family members who "happened to be in town." I've had to add tables, bring down extra dishes and send my husband for takeout to provide enough food.

This has resulted in my being a complete wreck for the evening, thinking vengeful thoughts about the "generous" guests!

Is there a courteous way to handle this? I don't feel it would be polite to ask the uninvited to leave.

GENTLE READER: No, it wouldn't. They are most likely innocent parties, who have been assured that you will be delighted to include them.

So Miss Manners prefers to deal with the guilty parties.


"I'm so sorry you didn't warn us about bringing other guests so we could prepare for them," you should pull them aside to say. "Would you be so kind now as to help us out?"

They are then the ones you send out for extra food, and seat separately if there is no room for them at the main table. If they do not understand, at that point, how much trouble they have caused, they will when the people they brought rave about how welcoming you were to them.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would like your advice on how to respectfully correct individuals who insist on addressing me by my given name rather than my professional title, which is "Dr. Smith." I was always taught to address adults respectfully by Mrs./Ms./Mr./Dr. and their last name, unless specifically invited to use their given name -- a practice that I continue to this day.

Yet, even though I never introduce myself using my given name in the professional environment, I frequently am addressed that way by the parents of prospective clients. I also have noticed that my male colleagues are often referenced or introduced with their titles and last names, whereas the same people use given names for my female colleagues.


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