Q: For the past 17 years, we have hosted parties at Christmas. Although years ago they started with 15 guests and light hors d’oeuvres, the list has grown to 82 guests and a full buffet dinner and bar. It costs several thousand dollars when you factor in the servers and bartender, and it requires months of planning.
Over the years we have had guests who attend our party, but we never see or hear from them during the year unless it’s to inquire about the party. We don’t expect a tit for tat, but we are now at a point where we need to curtail costs. We feel used by these people, and would rather host a smaller gathering for people we consider better friends and acquaintances.
What I’m struggling with is how to respond when asked why they are no longer on the guest list. — Used Party Host
A: If someone actually has the gall to ask that question, I think you should tell the truth and respond that, “We have had to cut costs, and this year we decided to entertain only people we see on a regular basis.”
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Q: You missed the mark in your answer to “Mother Doesn’t Know Best” (July 7), whose 8-year-old stepson arrives for visits in old, ill-fitting clothing, even though the father purchases new clothes for him on every visit.
I live in Ohio, and the state considers housing, food, electricity, gas and running water as part of the makeup of child support. I know this firsthand. You also need to know if the mother is working and if she contributes to her son’s support. What about other expenses (toys, haircuts, uniforms, etc.)?
Part of the problem may be that Stepmom and Dad live across the country and aren’t there to see what exactly goes on day to day. Yes, the little boy shouldn’t be showing up at their home in clothes that are too small, but even Stepmom said he was putting on weight. — Mitzi In Dayton, Ohio
A: Your points are well taken. However, the majority of the feedback I received about that letter pointed out that children arriving in old clothes for visits with their dads is a popular ploy that some custodial mothers use in order to get new clothes, and some even return the clothes for cash. Read on:
Dear Abby: I had a divorced girlfriend I had confided in about this same problem. She said, “Don’t you know? We always send the kids to their dad’s in their worst clothing. That way, they’ll have to buy them new stuff during the visit.”
You can’t assume that because a child arrives in worn or ill-fitting clothes that the custodial parent is unfit or that the child doesn’t have lots of better clothing at home. — Mrs. D. in Virginia
Dear Abby: Please suggest that when Stepmom and Dad buy clothes for his son, they mark the labels with the boy’s initials. The mom may be returning the items for cash and buying something she wanted for herself. — Mom Who Knows
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.