Advice | Miss Manners: Party host asks for donations for expenses after the event


Dear Miss Manners: In January, I had the pleasure of attending two holiday parties. Both events were potlucks, to which I gladly contributed dishes. The hosts provided beverages like water, tea and coffee. The parties were well-attended, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

However, a few days after each gathering, I received a message from the hosts. They mentioned the amount they had spent on the party and requested a $10-$30 donation from the guests, providing their financial app details for this purpose. This approach struck me as more akin to a fundraiser than a social gathering among friends. Is this a standard practice in modern times? Is it now customary for hosts to ask for post-event monetary contributions to cover their expenses? I want to ensure I am up to date with current social etiquette.

Putting aside the audacity of asking guests both to cater the party and to pay for their drinks, Miss Manners cannot imagine how one could even consume $10 of water, tea or coffee. So it would seem that guests are being charged rent for the use of the venue as well. This borders on extortion.

There is nothing wrong with an agreed-upon potluck, but that is where it stops. The act of holding a party must assume some of the responsibility for basic amenities. Even restaurants don’t charge for plain water.

Dear Miss Manners: My son is a first-grader at a local elementary school. We drive him there for drop-offs and pickups each day, which entails parking and escorting him to and from the building. These drop-offs and pickups typically take about 15 minutes each.

I have gotten in the habit of parking on a residential side street that is convenient for entry and exit without having to wait for crossing guards and such. Lately I have noticed the lady whose house I typically park in front of giving me sideways glances, and the other day, she wagged her finger at me from afar like I was a naughty schoolboy. This residential street is about half a block from the school, and it’s a public street with no residential parking permits required. The husband and wife at this house are obviously retired and well off, and they park their cars in the garage; I am not encumbering them in any way.

Should I start parking somewhere else? My gut instinct is that I have every right to park there, so why should I make my life more difficult to accommodate them? They are the ones who bought a house next to an elementary school (the school has been there since 1957). Am I justified in continuing to park there?

Yes, but if the dirty looks continue and you feel emboldened, you may reasonably say, “I’m sorry, but parking on this street does not seem to be restricted. Am I missing something?” Miss Manners just asks that you steel yourself for the answer.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.



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