Metro-East Living

How to handle conflict with food and fireworks at Fourth of July parties

Q: We have an annual Fourth of July BBQ/party at our house. We invite family, friends and neighbors. My husband personally went over to one of our new neighbors and verbally invited them. Fine, except he just told me they said they were going to bring some fireworks over to our house and set them off later in the evening. Not good. We have little ones who come who aren’t ready for fireworks and some of my family bring their dogs because they don’t want to leave them at home with fireworks possibly going on in their neighborhood. My husband says it shouldn’t be a big deal and everyone might like it. I totally disagree, so I guess it is up to me to go tell them not to bring them because my husband says he won’t. Am I doing something wrong, or am I being “unneighborly” if I go talk to them?

A: As the hostess for this annual party, you have an obligation to consider the welfare of all of your guests, dogs included. What you do not need, is to have a large group of unhappy and terrified guests, including dogs. Having fireworks when you have never had them before, is an invitation to pandemonium! You are certainly justified in having a conversation with your new neighbors wherein you merely explain the situation, and then politely say to them: “I know you will understand why it would not be a good idea for you to bring any fireworks to our party.” After your husband gives this some thought, I am certain he will feel better if they don’t bring any fireworks as well.

2020 Dianne Isbell NEW

Q: I hate to be a new mother-in-law who tries to tell her son-in-law what to do, but his wife (my daughter) tells me he doesn’t want to put trays of ice underneath the potato salad, deviled eggs and slaw that they are going to serve at their house for a BBQ on the Fourth of July. My husband says I should not get into the middle of it. I think I am right to do so, however. It’s not worth having someone get sick. Am I being rude if I assert my opinion?

A: I suggest you “tread softly.” Wait until you get to their house to see how the food is actually being served. Maybe the weather will be so hot outside, they will decide to eat inside their air-conditioned house, and then put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Or, maybe your son-in-law will realize himself he needs to put these foods over ice if eating outdoors. If not, perhaps some other guest will make “the ice” recommendation and you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Think positively rather than fretting about what might not be a problem at all.

Q: I always tell my guests they do not need to bring anything when we invite them to dinner or a BBQ or whatever. There is always one who does not follow my request. She usually brings some kind of salad which may or may not go with what I am serving, but I always make a salad to complement my meal anyway. So, do I need to put out her salad or can I tell her I will keep it for us to eat later? It’s usually not big enough to serve the entire group anyway.

A: You can give it a try by saying this to her when she hands it to you: “Oh, thank you so much. We always love your salads. Would it be okay if I put it in the refrigerator for us to have later?” If you then get this shocked look, you may have to add, “Or would you like me to share it with our guests today?” Then be prepared to live with her answer and smile politely as you add it to your table.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to