Q: I have in-laws and a few friends who constantly show up at my house unannounced and stay for hours. This really bothers me and my husband. Most of the time we are busy, in the middle of a project, haven’t had dinner or we have other plans. I think it is totally inconsiderate. What is the proper etiquette for visiting and do you have any advice for me as to how I might handle this problem without having to move and not tell them where we are moving to?
A: If you are genuinely busy, or simply don’t feel like company, you say, “Hi! How great to see you. I wish I could ask you in but we are just about to get ready to go out. Give me a call next week and we’ll pick a date to get together.” You have no obligation to entertain gusts you weren’t expecting. While it is rudeness to you to have someone drop in, many people were raised differently in areas where spontaneous visits are quite the norm. There is never a guarantee, however, that someone is available to entertain you when you stop by, so there should be no hurt feelings as long as when it is you who is being “dropped in on” you make a sincere effort to have a planned get-together another time. If this happens more than once, you can say quite politely that you love seeing them but are always so scheduled that it is difficult for you to focus, and would prefer that they call first, or that you really plan get-togethers so you can concentrate on them and enjoy their company fully without worrying about other things you had been planning to do.