Q  We are having a dinner party next month and one of our invited guests is a recovering alcoholic. We will have a cocktail hour and plan to serve wine for dinner. Should we not do this so he isn’t uncomfortable?

A  A recovering alcoholic doesn’t expect everyone around him to do as he does, and there is no reason to bring attention to the situation. When offering drinks before dinner, add sparkling water, lemonade, or other soft drinks to your list of what you offer to everyone so he can choose which of those he would like, and at dinner, include sparkling cider along with wine.

Q  We’ve been invited to a wedding reception only, not the ceremony. Do we need to give a wedding gift in this case?

A  Yes. Whether you are invited just to the ceremony, or just to the reception, or to both, you give a gift. When invited to any part of a wedding, you give a gift whether you attend or not.

Q  A man I met has invited me to dinner. He is in the process of a divorce but it is nowhere near final and I feel uncomfortable accepting because of that. I like him and enjoy his company, but in my mind, he is still married. What can I say that lets him know I’d like to accept, but just can’t, under the circumstances?

A  Be honest. Tell him you would love to have dinner with him, but that you aren’t comfortable doing that while he’s still married. Tell him that once his divorce is final, you’d like the opportunity to get to know him better. Making up excuses or equivocating about meeting him makes you both feel awkward. Honesty works.

Q  I know you don’t put butter or jelly on a whole slice of bread or toast and pick it up and eat it that way, but what about a roll?

A  The same principle applies. You tear or cut off small pieces of the roll and butter each piece individually. You don’t pick up the whole thing, or even half of it, and take bites.

Q  I had a party recently and a work colleague never showed up. She never called me to say she couldn’t come at the last minute, or afterward to apologize for not showing up. She is not generally rude, and we have a friendly relationship, but she hasn’t said anything. I’d like to ask her about this. Is that rude of me?

A  No, it’s not rude at all. Just say, “I missed you at my party — I hope nothing was wrong or happened so you couldn’t be there. . .”  This gives her the chance to smack her forehead and say, “Oh no! I forgot!” or offer her explanation. It’s much better to clear the air and not have this mystery dangling between you and become awkward, especially since you have an otherwise nice relationship.

Questions for Catherine? Send then to [email protected]