Invitation dilemmas

Q. I’m an assistant and my employer invited me to lunch for Administrative Professionals’ Day. I work alongside two others who are technically in another department. They were not included in the lunch invitation. The vice president of their department works from another office on the opposite coast.

Should I have declined the offer, and, instead, asked that they be included?
R. B., Lancaster, CA


You were right to go to lunch with your boss. His offer was honoring you in recognition of the day and your efforts to support him throughout the year.

You should not have declined and then said, “But if you want to take Marge and Jane along with me because their boss is across the country, then I’d be happy to go to lunch.” Now you are dictating the conditions under which you’re willing to have lunch and not giving your boss the choice of whether to invite them while still honoring you. In the end run, it turns a nice invitation into a negotiation and hurts your relationship with him.

It’s unfortunate for the other two assistants that their boss works in another location, but that’s a reality of their job. It’s not your position to negotiate on their behalf or attempt to correct a missed opportunity on their boss’s behalf.


Q. How can I word an invitation for a co-worker’s retirement dinner? In addition to the per person cost of the dinner, I would like to include an addendum that people can make a donation for a gift.
N. K., West Creek, NJ
A retirement party thrown by the business should be entirely funded by the business, including any gift, because the business is the “host.” What you describe is a get-together of colleagues and not a party with a host. Therefore, a “pay your own way” lunch or dinner is appropriate. Below the invitation information, write: “Dutch treat.” It’s not appropriate to solicit gifts in addition to the meal. One option: the participants chip in to purchase the honoree’s meal, but that should be all they’re asked to contribute. “Dutch treat, and we’ll all treat Bob.”

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