Etiquette: It's OK to arm guests with bug spray at an outdoor party

July 8, 2013 

Q. Should the host and hostess provide bug spray for their guests for an outdoor party? Can the guests bring their own?

A. Yes, it would be very considerate for a host and hostess to provide bug spray for an outdoor party. A guest can also bring his own supply. Make sure the spray is not used in the vicinity of food and that it is not left near food or children.

Q. I have a small dog that is very afraid of fireworks. She shivers and will try to hide under anything. I was invited to a friend's house for a barbecue on the Fourth of July. I asked if I could bring my dog if there wasn't going to be any fireworks. I could have left her at home, but there has always been a lot of fireworks around our apartment complex, so I didn't want to do that.

It was a fun barbecue until a guy started lighting cherry bombs and other stuff. My dog went berzerk and I guess I did, too. I took it upon myself to ask this guy to stop. My girlfriend was inside getting more food. The guy didn't like it that I asked him to stop. We got into a heated conversation and then I grabbed my purse and my dog and I went home.

My girlfriend called afer I got home, wondering what happened. I told her. She was a little upset with me for not asking her to solve the situation, instead of leaving. Howeverr, she indicated she probably would not have been able to get him to stop because he was one of her bosses. She want me to come back, but I refused. Another one of my girlfriends thinks I owe her an apology. I just want to forget about it. Your opinion, please.

A. Whether you have a good time or a boring time at a party, it is proper etiquette for you to write a thank- you note to the hostess, thanking her for inviting you. Focus on the positive items surrounding the party, rather than the guest who decided he needed to add live fireworks.

Q. My parents recently invited two couples to their home for dinner. Mom served strawberry pie a la mode. She always makes her own pie crust and filling. She said one of her guests thought she bought the pie in a store, and kept asking her to "fess up." Mom is really good-natured and didn't get upset, but I think the guest who asked that question was really out of line, don't you?

A. Yes, I agree. A guest should never ask such a question -- not in front of others guests and certainly not more than once, and certainly she should not contradict the hostess's response. I would not extend another invitation to this person for any event in my home.

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. Or email to

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