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Monday question: Trimming the Christmas ... guest list

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 26, 2012 07:34 AM

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Happy Cyber Monday! Here's a question for you:

Every Christmas, we throw a large, lavish party for friends and neighbors. We include entire families. Some of the children from our neighborhood (who are now young adults) have no memory of a Christmas that didn?t include our party; many people gush (to the point of embarrassing us) about how our party is the highlight of the season. While it warms our hearts to think we have created wonderful holiday memories, we have decided to trim the guest list, cutting out people who don?t reciprocate. They are nice people and we would enjoy getting together with them when we are not besieged by hosting responsibilities, but the fact is we see them once a year -- at our own party. This leaves us with some questions: What do we tell guests who ask, "Where are the Jones' this year?" when the Jones' weren't invited? And, is there any way to tactfully get the message to negligent guests who are invited but with whom our patience is running very thin, that they are in jeopardy for next year? Or, because of the guilt we would feel in breaking tradition and disappointing the kids, are we stuck with this guest list in perpetuity? By the way, we have several friends who used to throw annual parties, but have stopped because of the stress of deciding upon a guest list when so many fail to reciprocate. That is not an option for us: the party will go on.
What's your take, dear readers? I'm very bothered by this letter myself. "The party will go on"? This seems more about ego than generosity. And big parties simply aren't a quid-pro-quo phenomenon. My advice is either throw the party with a better attitude, or yes, decide you are going to take a break this year. (It is too an option.)

However, I'm eager to hear your thoughts, so let's hear 'em! And if you've got questions of your own, send them in!
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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