Dear Mary

How can I have a fuss made of me on my 40th, without people knowing I’m 40?

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. Last year my husband and I stayed with a much-loved, but slightly airy-fairy friend in her house in Tuscany.…

Mary solves your problems: Should I tell the hostess if I see a rat on her patio?

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. My partner and I recently had two close friends — one a Peer, the other a former Member of the…

Mary answers your problems: is it acceptable to serve a puff pastry circle on a steak pie?

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. Some rather flashy new neighbours of ours — I won’t mention their names as his will be familiar to…

Mary solves your problems: How do I dodge my annoying chatty neighbour?

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. Our best friends own a house in Morocco which sleeps about ten. They rent it out but go two…

Mary solves your problems: We forgot our guests’ names and couldn’t introduce them

26 August 2017 9:00 am

Q. I am in my seventies and my husband is in his nineties. The other night we had two couples…

With far too many funerals to attend, how do I support my grieving chums?

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Q. Mary, I am what you would probably call a Sloane Ranger. I have great numbers of close friends and…

Never chuck an invite for a better one... unless it’s from the Queen

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Q. I was brought up to stick rigidly to any invitation accepted and never to ‘chuck’ when a better one…

Lots of my friends are turning 40 – how do I cope with the boring, drunken birthday dinners?

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Q. I’m shortly to host a very large family gathering. Everyone will be related to the same ancestor, so we…

How can I stop my children renting out their flats and coming to stay?

29 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. My children are very lucky in that we have bought them all flats. However, they are now renting out…

How can I get more likes for my amazing Instagram posts?

22 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. Last summer a friend of my brother-in-law’s house-sat for us while we were in Greece for a week. We…

Dear Mary: what’s the etiquette when security gates don’t just open?

15 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. Is there an etiquette regarding security gates? My wife and I were invited to dinner by new neighbours who…

Dear Mary: our friend’s new wife is a horror show. How can we avoid her?

8 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. ‘Alfred’ is a friend of 30 years’ standing who has just married for the first time. Alfred retains all…

Is the (occasional) glance permissible when presented with a splendid décolletage?

1 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. We have friends to stay each year in Scotland and it’s always a pleasure. Guests know there is signal…

How can I get the buyer of a supermarket to notice my products?

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. I import a range of very high-quality food products from Europe into the UK. They are regarded as the…

My husband keeps pointing out birds in our garden but I can’t see them

17 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. Having retired, my husband is now an enthusiastic observer of the goldfinches, greenfinches and bullfinches in our garden. Their…

How can I stop a friend posting photos on Instagram of my parties?

10 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. We have received a ‘save the week’ card from friends who take a villa abroad every year. We usually…

How to make the most of the social opportunities of the polling station

3 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. I am a member of a well-known country house opera society, and I organise annual trips to performances for…

No need for excuses with party bores... it’s your duty to circulate

27 May 2017 9:00 am

Q. Re getting away from bores at drinks parties (Dear Mary, 20 May). I take issue with the idea that…

Dear Mary: how do you excuse yourself from a dull conversation?

20 May 2017 9:00 am

Q. My mother always told me that only boring people are bored. However she never got stuck at a drinks…

Stop carping at having to buy a holiday gift for your cleaner. It’s vital

13 May 2017 9:00 am

Q. My 23-year-old son has taught himself to play the piano, learning the theme tune to The Truman Show without…

My cleaner is brilliant but how can I stop her working in bare feet?

6 May 2017 9:00 am

Q. I have a very good cleaner who comes once a week. She is far more efficient than anyone I’ve…

How can we avoid looking like 'awful oiks' at the Fourth of June?

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Q. New colleagues invited us to lunch but didn’t warn us that the clippings had not been cleared up from…

How do you reject someone but still spare their feelings?

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Q. May I pass on a tip to readers wishing to reject a hopeful romantic partner without hurting their feelings?…

Does a gentleman raise his hat once or twice to a lesbian couple?

15 April 2017 9:00 am

Q. My aunt lives in a small market town with narrow roads and limited parking. A neighbour opposite acquired a…

What can be done about flakes who cancel at the last minute?

8 April 2017 9:00 am

A friend of a friend hosted an engagement party in a London hotel. Invitations had gone out six weeks beforehand,…