Birthday party no-shows come at a cost for host

Published 4:52 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: I recently hosted my husband’s birthday. It was a great party. I reserved for 85 people, including the DJ, his assistant, the party planner and her crew. On the day of the event, 20% of the guests who RSVP’d did not show up. One couple said their two daughters had a debut party that night. Another family said their son had an outing. Others had legitimate reasons, like being sick or the house catching fire. 

I gave my guests ample time to RSVP. I sent the save-the-date cards four months before, the invitation two months before and the deadline to RSVP two weeks before the event. I even extended the invitation to allow other adults and kids to come to the party. I was too generous. I think it’s rude for the families who RSVP for a certain number of people to dismissively not show up because of another event, not considering that each head count means additional cost and planning for the meal, seating chart, etc. 

How do I let them know I wish they would have told me ahead of time so I could have removed them and saved myself a few hundred dollars? Or should I even let them know? — GENEROUS HOST IN TEXAS

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DEAR HOST: If I thought a lecture to these boors would be effective, I would tell you to go ahead and do what you have in mind. However, a more effective and less confrontational way to save yourself a future headache would be to simply omit them from your guest list.


DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law is a lovely woman — generous, with a heart of gold. Her husband, my husband’s brother, is a kind and gentle man who works hard to provide for his family. They do much for their community and seemingly have every moment of the day occupied with something. 

But whenever I’m with my SIL, she never fails to whine about where her husband falls short. Sometimes, she does it in front of him. It’s uncomfortable because I don’t want him to think I agree with her. Almost always the problems are minuscule. Example: The house is never clean enough, or he’s not doing X-Y-Z to help her. (To me, it looks like he does plenty.) She says she’s always doing “everything herself.” 

I’m not one for confrontation and don’t want to cause trouble in our relationship because I do enjoy her a lot, and I’m afraid of the repercussions of “going there.” But enough is enough. It makes me dread one-on-one conversations or not want to interact because it is draining. How do I handle this? — ZERO TOLERANCE 

DEAR ZERO TOLERANCE: Ask your sister-in-law to please stop complaining, because when she does it makes you uncomfortable. After that, when she starts again, change the subject to something else — cooking, gardening, even politics or religion if you think it will distract her. Good luck.


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