Q. Whenever we attend a dinner party or event at someone's home, we take a hostess gift. Recently, several couples purchased a dinner at a charity auction. We paid $75, and the dinner will be hosted by the person who donated the event. Since we paid for this event, we are uncertain if we should take a hostess gift. We most likely will take something, but under these circumstances, is it required?
A. Yes, a hostess gift is most appropriate because this hostess has not only donated the use of her home for this charity dinner, but she is paying for hors d'oeuvres and beverages, the meal, preparing it and serving it to guests she may not even have met before.
Q. We have an Open House every year during the Christmas holidays. It's a lot of work, but we enjoy seeing lots of our friends and sharing a beverage or two to celebrate the season. The majority of those who bring a hostess gift, bring wine -- some we like and some we rarely ever drink.
Since we really don't need any more wine or candles or candy, would it be considered inappropriate for us to say something like this on the invitation?: "In order to share the spirit of the season with others who are in need, we suggest you consider bringing a can of food in lieu of a hostess gift, which will then be donated to the local community food pantry."
A. Sounds like a great idea because that is what the season is all about -- doing what we can to help make others happy.
Q. I just received a Christmas greeting via email from a long-time friend. She made it an attachment to her e-mail. I can't open the attachment. Can I send her an email and ask her to fax the letter to me or mail me a copy, or does that show my ignorance?
A. Let me assure you, you are not the one who should be worrying about being considered ignorant. You are also probably not the only person having difficulty opening this attachment. Feel free to reply to the email, requesting another form of the message be provided, whether copied inside another email, faxed or snail mailed. I hopt the sender will get the picture that sending out a Christmas letter as an attachment to an email, is not the best idea.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.