Newport Manners & Etiquette: Minding Your Party Manners

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


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Parties should be about having a good time, but don't forget to use proper party etiquette.

Flu season etiquette, business etiquette with difficult clients, and did you say 'party'? Minding party manners when you live together. Is it good etiquette to send a photo of the recently deceased on a Christmas card? All topics of concern to Didi Lorillard at this November.

Handling two clients who don't jive

Dear Didi,

What do you do when you have two clients and they don't like each other (and don't want to be at my office at the same time), but can only come at the same time of day, because they both work late? M.W., Providence

Dear M.W,

These two clients are going to have to learn to play together nicely in the sandbox, if you cannot alternate their meetings; for instance, meeting with one the first Tuesday of the month and with the second the second Tuesday. Tell them it is up to them to decide. Otherwise, they can each have your undivided attention only twice a month but both times to themselves. In order to make it more pleasant for everyone involved setting boundaries, such as alternating Tuesdays, may help them come to their senses and see how silly it is. They are really just vying for your attention. ~Didi

Deciding on a Christmas card after a death in the family

Dear Didi,

My husband and the father of my two children passed away in March. I sent Christmas photo cards every year. My daughter wants the card to include a picture of him. I would find it very odd if I was to receive a Christmas card with his picture on it. What do you think? L.C., Wellesley, MA

Dear L.C.,

Agreed, it seems sad at a time when everyone is trying to be so merry. But let's make this about your two children and you and not about everyone else. Find a photo with all four of you or of your two children with their father to use on the card. If that doesn't work, then use two photos. The website let's you have a card with several photos. What you don't want to do is to sign the card from him, so leave his name off the card and don't make mention of his absence. Continuing the family photo card can be a reminder to everyone of your family's happy memories. These first holidays will be hard, but having a family photo(s) Christmas card may be a part of your mourning process that will help in the healing. ~Didi

Protecting yourself from flu + cold sufferers

Dear Didi,

What does one do when your tennis partner shows up at the indoor courts with the flu and is coughing and sneezing, and is going to be touching the ball and shaking hands, etc. with the rest of the group who are afraid of catching it? Name and location withheld

Dear reader,

Look at the alternative, if she hadn't shown up you would have been missing a partner and playing doubles with three instead of four. Your contagious tennis partner should have found a substitute and stayed home. If it happens again, say, "I'm afraid I might possibly be coming down with something, so I'm not going to shake hands after the last set." Keep a small container of liquid hand sanitizer in your tennis bag to use openly between sets while saying, "I wouldn't want any of you to get sick too. We all have such busy lives." You should only need to put on this charade once for her (and everyone) to get it. To rub it in further, you could add, "It would be more considerate to find a substitute next time. I'm feeling as though I might be coming down with something." Of course, you're not really sick, but just acting the way you think she should act in this situation, which should help her to become more considerate of others. ~Didi

Did you say party?


So my boyfriend of almost 2 yrs and I have recently moved in together and it's been hard getting used to it as we both went from living with family to living together. BUT I can honestly say I love him and I am happy. Problem is we have totally different schedules (actually) I secretly love this. Also he ALWAYS wants to have his friends over ALWAYS for dinners/drinks and I am usually more than happy to help with the cooking/cleaning and I play hostess and make sure all his friends/family feel at home at our house. Recently my mom went out of town for a week. It was hard not seeing her so I decided when she got back to have a nice dinner with my family, siblings, mom, and 2 aunts and cousin just to hang. I let him know of my plans waaay before, like days before, on the day of the dinner he calls me and tells me his best friend will be coming to dinner also. I'm thinking GREAT because he won't feel left out and he can have his best friend to chat with and I can give my attention to my family as much as I want. FAIL I get home from work to get stuff ready and I see 4 of his friends on the couch and about 10 of his friends come over. I don't know if I should be upset over this? All of a sudden the dinner I wanted to have with my family turned into his party on the ONE day I wanted to hang with my family. He doesn't understand this was rude of him, so was it? Am I being childish? He barely spoke with my family, because he was busy with his friends, whom I NEVER have over and he always has his friends over. How can I tell him him that there's a time for family and for friends? Help pleeeease. H.J., Worcester, MA

Dear H.J.,

The awesome thing about living with someone is that you can work out these kinks by experimentation. You both have to start really listening to what the other person is saying. When you say 'family party,' the only word he hears is 'party.' When you say 'it is fine for his best friend to attend,' he hears 'it's OK to invite all his friends.' Now you know. Going forward, when you say 'family party' you have to set boundaries as to how many people he can invite to keep it a 'family party.' So you say, "You are welcome to invite your best friend, but I want to keep this a family party. You can invite one friend." Remind him that when he has parties, you don't invite your whole family. You may have to state boundaries more than once in order for them to sink in. As you can see, it is all about listening and making sure he understands and respects your boundaries. You might have to ask him to repeat what you said before it makes sense to him. ~Didi

Do you have a question to ask Didi? Email it to [email protected] or visit her at If we use your question, we can withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Prior weekly columns are listed below. More topics can be accessed through a search.


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