Q: For the last several years and again this year we have hosted an annual open house. We have mailed invitations with an RSVP and the first phone call came today. She asked, “I will have a guest, is it all right if I bring her?”
Last year we ended up with 6 extra people we did not know. They ate and drank heartily and never sent a thank you. One person even asked if she could pack up some cookies to take home. After that experience, how do we nicely say no? Are we wrong to feel it is an imposition to host people we do not know, nor invited? I also have a question of reciprocity. How many times do you invite a neighbor etc. without them doing any inviting to you? It is good to keep cordial relations with the neighbors, but I feel it should be two sided.
A: It is not incorrect for someone to ask if s/he can bring a friend to a large party, although no one should do this when the invitation is for a small dinner party. It is equally correct for you to say you are sorry, but you simply cannot accommodate another guest, although you wish you could, but hope she (the invited guest) is able to attend anyway. However it is likely she can’t, if she has a guest.
As to how often you invite friends or neighbors without a reciprocal invitation – that is your choice entirely. If you are never invited back, you can stop inviting them yourself, or if you enjoy their company and don’t mind at all always being the hostess, you can continue to invite them. This is not to say they should not reciprocate, for they should, of course, but some people simply aren’t comfortable entertaining and don’t, nor do they think of asking you out to dinner, or to a movie, etc., their treat, instead of returning your invitation in kind.