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Miss Manners: Preferring that relatives keep distance

Dear Miss Manners: How do I tell family members not to bring anyone to our new home, as if they are tour guides?

How do I tell family members not to post our information or photos on Facebook? We don’t use Facebook!

How do I tell family members not to bring housewarming gifts? Because the gifts aren’t gifts; it attaches the family members to your home as if we now owe them.

I am preparing our change-of-address cards, and I want to include this for some of our family members. This was difficult for us with our previous home. We have moved farther away, and I don’t want unannounced overnight guests.

Gentle Reader: You have certainly piqued Miss Manners’ curiosity. Yours must be quite a major house, as visitors are regularly posting pictures of it to strangers.

Miss Manners is further at a loss as to what kind of housewarming present would tether its giver to the house – a very long, retractable leash?

It would seem that an obvious answer to the problem of having unwanted guests (or their presents) would be not to send change-of-address cards to them. These cards are optional, and the information they contain is on a need-to-know basis.

However, if you do send the cards, there is no polite way to tell people that a housewarming gift is not a ticket of admission. To deflect unwanted guests, you could write inside, “We look forward to inviting you in the future.”

Miss Manners has a feeling, however, that the subtlety of this wording will be lost on the sort of visitors who invite themselves. In that case, she recommends the first solution: Do not tell them where you live.

Awkward co-worker repartee

Dear Miss Manners: I have enjoyed a good reputation at work throughout my career. Now, I am starting to become a bit well-known in my field, so I occasionally meet colleagues who are new to me but who, when we are introduced, will say, “Oh, I’ve heard all about you,” in a somewhat gushing tone.

I usually just smile, say, “How nice,” and then ask the person something innocuous about work or some other pleasantry, but it feels quite awkward. Is this an appropriate response?

Gentle Reader: But these people apparently did not say that they heard something nice about you. Miss Manners considers that this leaves you free to begin asking about them.

However, if you consider this awkward, you can toss off a saucy, “Don’t believe everything you hear!”

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send questions to or email