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Miss Manners: Cost of admission is too much

Dear Miss Manners: I am the godmother of a lovely girl who will be turning 2. Her mother and I have decided that we want to throw her a nice casual party at a fall festival that includes hay rides, party favors, live music, a decorated gazebo, etc., for a reasonable price that I am happy to cover.

The cost of the party reservation does not include the cost of the entrance fee into the festival, which is $15 per person. Is it the responsibility of the hosts (my friend and me) to front the ticket cost for our guests? Or is it reasonable to ask the guests to take on this payment? I am a single 20-something woman with limited income and my friend is a single parent. We are just not sure how to go about this with fairness and grace.

Gentle Reader: If the party reservation does not include the entrance fee to any of the festival’s enticements, Miss Manners is not surprised that the price is so reasonable. Unfortunately, fairness and grace will not be forefront on your guests’ minds if they are invited to a party for which they have to pay (and pay not insignificantly, since presumably no 2-year-old is traveling without parents).

As compromised as you and your friend’s financial situations may be, you are making the assumption that your guests’ are expendable.

No party invitation should come with an entrance fee (a lesson lost on most adults celebrating birthdays at restaurants by “inviting” guests to pay for their own meals). Miss Manners is afraid that you must find an alternate venue – perhaps someone’s backyard where you could create a similarly festive atmosphere? At 2 years old, the birthday girl and her friends will have just as good of a time – and their parents will have an even better one for not being charged for the fun.

Note is never out of order

Dear Miss Manners: The mother of a childhood friend is dying of cancer. I no longer live near this friend and have not been in contact with her since high school, but I always get news of the family from my mom, who still lives in the small town where we grew up. I am very sad to hear this news and have very fond memories of this woman.

Is it kind or selfish of me to write a short note to this woman to let her know she matters to me and that my thoughts are with her?

Gentle Reader: How it could be construed as selfish to let someone who is dying know that she is important to you, Miss Manners cannot imagine.

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s daughter, Jacobina Martin. Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, or to her email,