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Posted on Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Thoughtful gifts convey proper thanks for hosts' hospitality

By Dear Abby


I'm confused about the protocol in thanking or repaying someone after staying several nights at their home. My feeling is, if you're staying with people, the nicest way to thank them for their hospitality is to pay for most, if not all, the lunches and dinners you share with them when you dine out. That way, you lessen the monetary burden of your visit, and it gives you a chance to say "thank you" for the use of their home.

Some visitors seem to think that when they come to your home, you should not only put them up, but also pay for all their activities while you show them your town. What is correct? Or is it a matter of preference? -- VISITING FROM PHOENIX


According to Emily Post, when a guest stays overnight, a nice bottle of wine would be a proper gift if you know your hosts drink and their preference. If there are children in the household, a game they can all enjoy or candy might be nice. If you will be staying longer, she suggests a picture frame with a photo taken during your visit sent afterward, a houseplant in a decorative pot, hand towels or beach towels.

And I agree with you that treating your host(s) to a nice dinner during your visit would be gracious and thoughtful.


One of my best supervisors is in a same-sex relationship. She and her partner are raising three wonderful children from previous marriages. I have introduced them to my husband at the office as well as work-related social events. He says he "hates" them because he believes their relationship broke up their marriages and it's wrong to raise their children this way.

When he encounters them he refuses to acknowledge them and will snarl when near them. Neither of them have done anything to deserve this treatment, and it makes me embarrassed and ashamed of him. I've tried to reason with him -- nothing works. I told him flat out he can have his opinions, but I expect him to treat them with respect.

I'm to the point where I have to attend work-related functions alone and not allow him to come to my office. That's one solution, but I'm still upset about his attitude in general. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. -- UPSET IN TEXAS


I suspect that your husband's reason for "hating" your supervisor has less to do with the fact that she and her partner ended their marriages, and more to do with knee-jerk homophobia. Children who are raised in happy homes do better than those who are raised in a household filled with unresolved tension. I can't change your husband's attitude, and neither can you. Only he can do that, but enlightenment isn't likely to be achieved until he recognizes a need for it.

P.S. His manners are atrocious, and you're right to keep him apart from your work environment.


Due to a health problem that caused some of my hair to break and fall out, I have recently begun wearing a wig. At a social function a woman who was not a friend of mine approached me and asked if I was wearing a hairpiece. How could I respond to such a rude question without admitting that I am wearing a wig? -- STUMPED IN PENNSYLVANIA


Try this: "I'll forgive you for asking that question if you'll forgive me for not answering."

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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