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Polite ways of saying ‘no’

I’m hosting a 50th birthday party for my husband. It’s a formal event at a hotel with a sit-down dinner. We didn’t say “plus one” or “and family” on our invitations, and have had a few people respond asking if they can bring a friend/date/their children. Can I politely say no or once asked am I socially obligated to say yes, or does it depend?

I’m hosting a 50th birthday party for my husband. It’s a formal event at a hotel with a sit-down dinner. We didn’t say “plus one” or “and family” on our invitations, and have had a few people respond asking if they can bring a friend/date/their children. Can I politely say no or once asked am I socially obligated to say yes, or does it depend?

– Politely Curious

Dear Politely Curious,

Well, you have to decide what is important to you. The short answer is that the person who is invited is named on the outside of the envelope and it is rude on behalf of the guest to put you, the hostess, in a position to ask if you can bring someone who was not invited.

Now that we all know the rule, the question is what to do? First off, do you have the room to seat these additional guests?

Lack of space is always a great and polite way out.

Secondly, if it is just one or two guests who happen to be your best friends than you might be a little more tolerant and allow them to bring someone. However, regarding children (and I love kids), if this is an adult party it is 100 per cent OK to say, “We would prefer if you would hire a baby sitter to take care of the kids that night, so that you and your husband can relax and enjoy the evening with the adults.”

• Got a question? Please email askcharlesthebutler@metronews.ca