Annie: Uninvited guests are a problem
Dear Annie: For the past few years at our summer holiday party, a family friend has taken to inviting his own guests without my knowledge. There have been as many as seven additional people showing up uninvited by me. They include various family members of his whom I either do not know or have only met briefly and would not typically invite into my home. This past year, he showed up with a couple who had a baby. I had never met them. Before I knew it, they were pitching tents in my yard, intending to spend the night.
The next morning, I awoke to a total stranger rummaging through my refrigerator. She was looking for something to feed her baby, who was obviously hungry and fussy. It was all I could do to be polite.
I do not want this to occur again this year and am asking for your advice on how to handle the situation. The family friend is oblivious to the issue and has a tendency to be immature and impulsive if confronted. Our kids and grandkids are friends, and I am afraid that if I were to say something, they would be unhappy that their friends couldn’t come. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. -- Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Dear Between: Are you really stuck between a rock and a hard place? This seems like a pretty straightforward soft landing for you. It is preposterous to invite or, should I say, impose seven additional guests to your summer holiday party. Had your friend asked you in advance so you could have prepared for them, that would be a different story. But this past year took the cake, and I’m surprised that uninvited guest didn’t literally take your cake, as well, as she rummaged through your refrigerator.
I admire your diplomacy and kindness in being polite and giving the stranger and her baby some food, but by all means, this type of behavior must stop. And you are the one who has to draw a hard line in the sand with your children and grandchildren.
You need to have a direct conversation with them about the family friend, explaining that no one is allowed to invite guests without your permission. Pitching a tent and sleeping in your backyard is out of the question. If you don’t want to upset your kids and grandkids, you could always include them in your decision-making process. Ask them ahead of time whom the friend would like to invite. Tell them that you are fine with it as long as you know ahead of time. Keep the conversation light and fun.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “Broke but Still Spending.” I, too, am a senior widow and needed to reduce my Christmas gifts. A sister-in-law started a tradition when all of our children were small and our paychecks had to stretch. She gave each niece and nephew a Christmas ornament. I’ve resorted back to that tradition. I give family members a gift of a tree ornament, either homemade or purchased. I try to pick out something meaningful to the recipient. I put a sticky tab with the year on the ornament.
Last month, I shopped after-Christmas sales and got ornaments for 75 percent off - saving for next Christmas. I enjoy giving these ornaments because I can afford them and each is different. My children each had a box of special ornaments when they left home. - A Creative Gift-Giver
Dear Creative Gift-Giver: Thank you for a wonderful suggestion. I’m printing your letter to inspire others.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.