Dear Carson: During the holidays my wife and I went to an upscale restaurant with another couple. My wife and I were seated on one side and the other couple on the other side. The men were talking sports and the women were talking about volunteer work. It seemed such a mess with conversations of different interests going on at the same time. Should everyone be quiet and let just one person have the floor, so to speak? - Conversation Cacophony
Dear CC: When two couples go out to dinner, the same sex should sit elbow to elbow. This seating is to avoid the conversational diversity of interests that you described.
Dear Carson: I planned and played host to a holiday party to celebrate my husband's 70th birthday. At another social gathering, one of my friends told me that she and her husband were really looking forward to my party. The third person present was someone whom I had not invited and I felt embarrassed for her and for me. What should I have said or done? - Hot Faced Hostess
Dear Hostess: It is a good rule of thumb never to mention a gathering to which another party to the conversation might not have been invited.
As the embarrassed hostess, I would have given a slight shake of the head or a warning look to the invited guest.
There is no good way to handle such an awkward situation, but you might try minimizing the tactless remark by saying that just a few friends are dropping by or try changing the subject.
Dear Carson: When doing place cards for a formal function, do you write "Mr. and Mrs. David Davis" or "Mr. and Mrs. Davis?" Also, for a judge, do you write "Judge and Mrs. Davis" or "Justice and Mrs. Davis?" They are doing a place card for each couple because of the number of attendees. - Pondering Place Cards
Dear Pondering: I prefer that each person has his own place card as in, "Judge David Davis" or "Mrs. David Davis" for more formal occasions, and for less formal dinner parties I like the given name and last name of each person, as in "Judith Davis" and "David Davis."
Dear Carson: Is it improper to write an additional note on a printed sympathy acknowledgement card or should I send two separate notes (one handwritten and one printed)? - In a Quandary
Dear Quandary: It is acceptable to write on a printed or engraved sympathy acknowledgement card.
Dear Carson: Does one address a widow as, "Mrs. John Doe" or "Mrs. Jane Doe?" - Widow Worry
Dear Widow Worry: Either way is correct.