Dear Abby: I'm confused about the protocol in thanking or repaying someone after staying several nights at their home. My feeling is, if you're staying with people, the nicest way to thank them for their hospitality is to pay for most, if not all, the lunches and dinners you share with them when you dine out. That way, you lessen the monetary burden of your visit, and it gives you a chance to say "thank you" for the use of their home.
Some visitors seem to think that when they come to your home, you should not only put them up, but also pay for all their activities while you show them your town. What is correct? Or is it a matter of preference?
-- Visiting From Phoenix
Dear Visiting: According to Emily Post, when a guest stays overnight, a nice bottle of wine would be a proper gift if you know your hosts drink and their preference. If there are children in the household, a game they can all enjoy or candy might be nice. If you will be staying longer, she suggests a picture frame with a photo taken during your visit sent afterward, a houseplant in a decorative pot, hand towels or beach towels.
And I agree with you that treating your host(s) to a nice dinner during your visit would be gracious and thoughtful.
Give it right back
Dear Abby: Due to a health problem that caused some of my hair to break and fall out, I have recently begun wearing a wig. At a social function a woman who was not a friend of mine approached me and asked if I was wearing a hairpiece. How could I respond to such a rude question without admitting that I am wearing a wig?
-- Stumped in Pennsylvania
Dear Stumped: Try this: "I'll forgive you for asking that question if you'll forgive me for not answering."
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.