Posted by: DD | June 4, 2007

no. 456 – Miss Manners Needs a Blog

I have a minor conundrum and need some advice. I’d write a letter to Miss Manners if 1) I knew she would respond; and 2) I got the newspaper that ran her articles. Plus, my problem isn’t quite as high-brow as she normally tackles.

As I have mentioned, I am planning a shindig for my 40th Birthday next month. There will be fireworks involved and I’m not talking about bottle rockets and black cats. We have a friend who is a professional pyrotechnician and has verbally committed to being available that night. We have only a few neighbors since we are technically "in the country". Because of the distance and the layout of the land, we actually cannot see any of our neighbors’ houses (except a couple of roof-peaks here and there).

We were wondering if we should invite those neighbors we don’t know very well, even though I have stressed to my husband I am not inviting every TomDickandHarry we have ever crossed paths with because I want it to be a very informal and I’d prefer that as little introductions be necessary as possible. Mr. DD thinks we should invite them since things will probably be noisy and there will be a lot of activity in the area.

I’m of the opinion that we just send out a little note that states there will be a party and there will be the aforementioned noise and activity so they can have a heads up. Mr. DD thinks that sending the note would be a bit like rubbing their face in it. A "I’m having a party! And you’re not invited!" kind of thing.

I’m concerned that if I invite the neighbors that I will feel responsible for making introductions and getting them hooked up in the appropriate groups if they do decide to show up.

What would you do?



  1. If you don’t want to invite your neighbors, since they don’t live ‘next door’, I probably wouldn’t mention the party. UNLESS shooting off pyrotechnics requires a permit from a local governing body, which it very well may, to pre-empt phone calls/complaints directed at you or the police. If that is the case, you might want to let them know…

  2. I did check with the County Sheriff (since we are outside city limits) and they said we just need to give them a reminder either the day of, or the day before, that we’re going to have fireworks, but other than that, they didn’t think we needed anything permit-wise.

  3. Oh, you know us – we invite EVERYBODY. But, when I throw a shindig, I want to do it big.

  4. I think you should let the neighbours know, and I certainly don’t think it’s rude to not invite them. Hopefully most people would realise that some parties are more intimate and not everyone and their goat can be invited.

  5. It might depend how big the party will be – if the neighbours will constitute about half the party, perhaps not, if they will get lost in the crowd, go ahead. And they might not come, anyway.

    We have in the past invited next-door-but-one but “warned” next door, who is quiet and uncommunicative. So I think you can get away with “country” neighbours just being “warned”.

  6. I would give them the heads-up note and include in there that they are welcome to stop by if they want. Seriously, how many do you think are going to take you up on it? It is less formal than a real invitation and therefore less likely to make a neighbor feel obligated to come. If I received a note like that, I probably wouldn’t go, but I would be glad of the warning since I have a dog who is scared of fireworks.

  7. Do you KNOW these neighbors? Like actually know names and have talked to them and stuff. For me, if I were one of those neighbors I would appreciate the heads up but wouldn’t think you were rubbing my nose in the fact that you were having a party. But I look at it as someone who knows my neighbors enough to recognize them and say Hi in the laundry room and that’s about it.

  8. If they’re just your neighbours and you don’t really associate with them its polite to warn them of the noise but if you don’t know them well enough, you don’t have to invite them, surely?

  9. If it’s a biggish party, then I’d invite them. As long as you like them. More people = more presents, right?

    If it’s smaller then you could just let them know. If they like fireworks you could tell them they’ll be a show and maybe they’d like to come for that?

  10. I would send out invitations with the expectation that they won’t attend. Were I one of your neighbors, I would see that as a polite way of you telling me to look out for the pyrotechnics. You could use language like intimate, family, etc… It’s kind of like inviting your cousins thrice removed who live in Siberia – hey, I haven’t forgotten you, but I don’t think you’ll come anyway.

  11. I’ve actually experienced this issue when my ex-stepmom planned a party for my dad. Her note to the neighbors was something like, “I just wanted to give you a friendly heads-up that on Friday we will be setting off fireworks, so don’t be alarmed when you hear the noise.” She didn’t mention that there was going to be a party.

    Don’t invite them if you don’t want to worry about them. It’s no fun worrying about people you barely know… and it’s your party you can do what you want to.

  12. You can do what is the norm in our neighborhood-if one of us on our little road knows we’ll be having a loud party, they invite the neighbors round the night before for an hour of “We’re sorry about the noise” drinks. It sounds really cheesy, but when we had our first invite we really appreciated their thoughtfulness. It’s something our neighborhood seems to do.

    Otherwise, I think a note in the post or you dropping by to apologize is ok.

  13. I think you are under no obligation to invite them, but you could tell them when the fireworks would be so they could at least enjoy the show.

    If you know them and want to invite them, put an open invite on there too.

  14. I’m thinking…let them know it’s your 40th, and that there will be fireworks, and then just toss in that if they want to stop by to enjoy the fireworks, they’re welcome. Most people will just be so confused by the “do we bring a gift, or don’t we” conundrum that they just won’t come.

  15. I wouldn’t invite them to the party but could you invite them to the fireworks? You could send them a note letting them know of the big fireworks at the end of the party. Make them aware and say, “You are more than welcome to join the viewing at whatever time.”

    If you don’t really know them then don’t worry. 🙂

  16. I would send an “announcement” that there will be fireworks and an open invitation.

  17. I think the idea of a “sorry for the noise” drink party the night before is a good one as a compromise between you and Mr. DD. And an excuse to extend your (our!) birthday celebration!

    Hope you have a blast.

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