Dear Carson: Without telling you how often I change the bed linens, could you give me a general rule about how often you should change the linens, i.e. sheets, napkins and towels? My husband says I don't change sheets and towels often enough. - Linen Limbo
Dear Limbo: Of course, everyone has the right to choose for themselves, but the general rule of thumb is for sheets that are slept in by two people to be changed twice a week and sheets that have been slept on by one person, once a week. It is pure luxury to have a fresh towel after one use, but two uses are average. If one uses napkin rings for table linens it is possible to use them longer than if one does not designate which napkin belongs to whom. After all, that was the original purpose of napkin rings. My parents once had an elegant houseguest in their home and when the gentleman asked what the little silver rings were for he was told they were so that the linen napkins would not need to be laundered so often. His scoffing comment was, "My God, what poverty!" This proves that luxury is in the eye of the beholder.
Dear Carson: I was having lunch last week and a couple stopped at our table to chat. As young men we were taught to rise whenever a lady came to or left our table. We stood for an inordinately long period of time, while our food turned cold. The table-hoppers seemed oblivious to the fact that our lunch was getting colder by the minute. Is there any proper way to handle these table hopping situations without being rude? - Standing Stooges
Dear Stooge: Table-hoppers should make their stop as brief as possible so that the food of others does not grow cold. If no such courtesy seems forthcoming I think it is perfectly permissible for the gentlemen to simply bob up in respect and then sit and resume their meals. If too long an interval has passed the gentlemen may say "Excuse me" and take their seats. Inconsiderate table-hoppers are getting their needs met at the expense of others.
Dear Carson: During the holidays we had overnight guests who, upon arriving, presented us with a hostess gift. Is this a usual practice for visiting house guests? Such a practice seems a little like payment for room and board. Is this something we should do when we visit others for overnight stays in their home? - Honest Hostess
Dear Hostess: It is in no way considered payment for your hospitality. However, a small gift, like a plant, scented guest soaps or candles, cocktail napkins or luxury foods are appropriate hostess gifts. In Natchez, Miss., where I grew up it was considered appropriate for a guest to tip the household help in addition to a bringing a hostess gift and writing a thank you note. Another thoughtful gesture is for the visiting couple to treat their hosts to a lunch or dinner at a restaurant as their guests. Such a gesture should be met with appreciation by the hosts.
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