Metro-East Living

Giving workers a snack is hospitable

Q: We recently had some exterior work done on our home. It was a three-day project and it wasn’t cheap. I was talking to my elderly aunt about the project after it was all done and she asked me if I had made some of my special oatmeal cookies for them. When I told her I hadn’t, she asked me what I did give them. When I told her nothing, she chided me for not being more hospitable. They took time off to go to lunch somewhere each day and I noticed they brought coolers with water bottles. We paid them well. Was I inhospitable by not giving them cookies or snacks?

A: No, not necessarily, but look at it this way. If you were one of these workers, would you not have felt truly appreciated if you were offered a cookie or two and iced tea in the afternoon, or a cup of coffee and a doughnut in the morning? Even though you paid these workers, if you had the discretionary money and time available to provide this form of hospitality, it would have been nice.

Q: From little on, I remember when my folks were invited to someone’s house for a party or dinner, they always invited that couple back to our house when they had a party or for dinner. My husband remembers that, too. We have invited this same couple that we met through some friends, who have some of the same interests as we do, to several parties and barbecues at our house. The last party we had was on Memorial Day weekend. They always make a point of telling us when they leave that they are going to invite us to their house. It never happens or hasn’t happened yet. Isn’t it proper etiquette any more to do this? We understand from another friend of ours, who has already verbally been invited, they are having a Fourth of July party. We have not received a call or an invitation. My husband thinks we should “put them on the dime” as he refers to it and call them; tell them we heard about their party and ask if our invitation got lost in the mail? I think that is way too bold. I won’t make the call, but my husband is thinking about it if we don’t hear anything from them by the 25th of June. Should he?

A: No, your husband should definitely not call this couple and embarrass himself and them by “putting them on the dime” asking for or seeking an invitation to their party. While it is polite to reciprocate a dinner or party invitation, there is no iron-clad etiquette rule stating it is an absolute requirement. Hopefully, you soon will receive a call or invitation to their party and if not, merely drop them from your invitation list for future parties or dinners at your home.

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