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Think through all party details before inviting

By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
          Dear Thelma: I'll finally graduate from college in May, a few years after most friends. Unfortunately, my university is several hours from my home. Because of the long commute to the ceremony and limited seating, I've chosen to celebrate my graduation with friends at home. I've selected a favorite restaurant and bar where friends can gather and celebrate if they wish.
        I'm quite sure that traditional etiquette rules state there is no proper way to ask for friends to pay for their own meals or drinks. Do you have any suggestions on wording? Also, is it improper to send a casual "invitation" on Facebook since most friends are recent grads themselves?
        A: You're right that there is no proper way to ask people to pay for their own meals at a party you are hosting.
        If you really do want to host a party, you should think about what kind of party your budget allows. If you can't afford to buy everyone food and drinks at a restaurant, which is very expensive, you should consider a gathering at home. There you can have it catered or make the food yourself. You can control whether you serve just appetizers and drinks or a full meal. It would even be fine to host it as a potluck, asking everyone to bring something to fit a menu you design or their favorite dish or drink.
        Any invitation you send should honor your guests by its tone and presentation. Using Facebook to send invitations for parties such as those mentioned would be fine, provided that everyone you plan to invite is on Facebook and uses it regularly. If not all your invitees use Facebook, you should consider sending the invitation in a way that all equally could receive and respond to. An invitation to a casual event, by Facebook or otherwise, always includes everything that a proper invitation requires: purpose of the party, date, time, location, dress designation, and an RSVP or "regrets only" request.
        If truly hosting a party is not what you have in mind, then you must be very clear in your communication to these friends you want to gather together. Talk in person or by phone to your closest friends and arrange to get together at the restaurant you've chosen, being clear that everyone should plan to cover their own expenses. Then if there's a larger circle you'd like to include, send your message on Facebook saying, "Hooray, I've graduated! A group of us is getting together to celebrate. I'd love for you to join us if you can. Here are the details."
        A clear look at what you really have in mind and clear communication will make the evening you have planned a memorable and happy one.
        Dear Thelma: How do I introduce Dr. Rubenstein as our mayor at the Citizen of the Year Banquet for the City of Saraland? Is it Mayor Dr. Rubenstein or Dr. Rubenstein, the mayor?
        A: Mayors are typically given "The Honorable" distinction before their names and the designation as mayor after their names when being introduced. This actually works well with the professional title: "The Honorable Dr. Larry Rubenstein, mayor of Saraland."
        Because his professional title of Dr. may seem to put a hiccup in the normal introduction, it's always appropriate to ask the mayor or someone on his staff before the event how he prefers to be introduced.
        Invitations, introductions and good manners never go out of style.
        Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.

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