Etiquette Questions, Answered: Entertaining and Guests
Must We Reciprocate a Dinner Invitation?
Q: If a new acquaintance invites my family to dinner, are we obliged to return the invitation if we found her husband objectionable,
bigoted, and rude?
A: While it feels polite to reciprocate when people have had you over to their house for dinner, there’s no obligation to do so―especially if you didn’t enjoy their company. I recommend finding another way to show your appreciation without matching their sit-down dinner in kind. For example, you could invite them to some other event or party at your home, preferably a large-enough gathering so you’re not forced to sit next to this dud of a dude and suffer through his uncharming personality again. Or, if you would really rather never see this man again (let alone subject your friends to him), send your hosts a bouquet of flowers, a food basket, or some other token of thanks that will make you feel as if you’ve returned the favor without having to endure another night of unpleasant company. After that, I recommend being cheerfully but consistently unavailable for future dinner invitations from them. They’ll get the hint eventually.
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