Q: I invited a couple to my home for dinner. But I had a series of domestic and work crises during the week before the meal and I’m just not up to cooking. Is it rude to take them out to dinner instead? Do I have to call them in advance and tell them?
A: It’s certainly not rude, but you should call for several reasons. First, you ought to make it clear in advance that you’re footing the bill, since you extended the invitation. It’s also courteous to alert them because their attire and travel plans may be affected. You can choose the restaurant, unless you know they have a favorite place. And if it doesn’t inconvenience them to come to your home first, you could invite them to have drinks there before going out to make the evening that much more intimate.