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(Stock photo | Getty Images | Photodisc/Stock photo | Getty Images | Photodisc)

Is it rude to limit my dinner party guest list? Add to ...

The question

One of our friends is in the habit of trying to bring extra people to my dinner parties. He will typically call the day before and announce, ‘Oh, my friend from out of town is visiting; I’d like to bring him along.’ I constantly say no, but am constantly feeling defensive about it. Am I being too uptight?

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The answer

A great guest list is part art, part engineering: a considered mix of gregarious friends, mysterious acquaintances and fascinating strangers from whom you can expect brilliant conversation at minimum and a minor but nonetheless unforgettable scandal at very best. What’s worse, you’ve got to be able to feed and water all these people, which the last-minute inclusion of your buddy’s “really fun” naturopath/colon-irrigation therapist friend Lothar fromWachsenburggemeinde is going to complicate . You shouldn’t feel defensive about declining to accommodate uninvited guests; if you’ve said no as many times as it sounds you have, your friend should have received the message by now. All that said, however, would a little serendipity kill you? Why not answer yes, even once, and see what happens? It might add some excitement to your table, and that’s never a terrible thing.

Follow food writer and restaurant columnist Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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