Miss Manners: Everybody deserted our hosts early at their New Year’s Eve party. How could we have handled it differently?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I attended a New Year’s Eve party with about four other couples. At 10:30, people started leaving, and I quickly came to realize my husband and I would be the last remaining guests.

I was afraid it would be rude to be the only ones there and have the hosts feel obligated to continue to entertain just us until after midnight. So my husband and I also got our coats and left just behind the other guests, leaving our hosts with an empty house.

Was it right to leave and not be the last remaining guests, or would it have been better to stay until the new year was toasted?

GENTLE READER: How awful for the hosts to be deserted during the key part of the occasion. Miss Manners does not accept your reasoning that, after preparing for guests, they would prefer to be left alone. Please apologize to them.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: On New Year’s Eve, we took my elderly mother and a friend to a fairly upscale Italian restaurant. My mother and the friend each ordered a glass of red wine. The server, who knows us as regulars, confirmed with my husband that he wanted “the usual coffee for the driver.”

When it was my turn, he asked if I wanted my usual red wine. Instead, I asked about Champagne -- “by the glass, as I am the only person here tonight who likes Champagne.” He said they had nothing by the glass, but they had several types of small bottles, splits and single-serve bottles. I asked a couple of questions (sweet or brut?) and ordered the one that sounded best -- a split of no more than two glasses.

When he brought the split, he brought three glasses and divided the Champagne into three partial servings. So my mom and the friend were each served both the red wine they’d ordered AND a glass of what I’d ordered for myself.


I let it go, as it wasn’t that big a deal and I really couldn’t think of a good way to say, “Hey, wait -- that’s MY Champagne.” They enjoyed the red wine, but neither touched the Champagne. Not only did I not get a full glass for myself, the other two partial servings went to waste.

Was this just a goof by the waiter, or is it a rule that any time a bottle of Champagne is ordered, no matter how small, it is expected to be shared with the whole table? This was a very early dinner, so no midnight toast was in the offing.

GENTLE READER: Still, it was New Year’s Eve, good fellowship, and all that.

Miss Manners wonders why, in that spirit, you did not say, “If you’re not going to drink that, may I have it?” You could have started with your mother, and her friend would have been sure to say, “Here, I haven’t touched this, either.”

Some wisdom to guide you through the new year: It is all right to ask for what you reasonably want as long as you do it politely. And for that waiter: Listen to the customers.

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Miss Manners | Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Miss Manners, written by Judith Martin and her two perfect children, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Marin, has chronicled the continuous rise and fall of American manners since 1978. Send your questions to