I was dumbfounded to see what our dinner guest ordered

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was flummoxed by something that happened to my husband and me.

We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a family dinner (12 of us all together) at a local restaurant. I ordered flower arrangements for the table that echoed the flowers in our wedding. We preordered some appetizers for everyone to enjoy, but left dinner and drink choices to our guests, which we paid for.

The dinner was lovely and just what we wanted, and the final bill was in keeping with what we had budgeted. I will admit that, at the time, we didn’t look at every item on the check but added a nice tip and went home very satisfied with the evening.

It wasn’t until a couple days later that I looked more closely at the bill and saw that a guest had ordered some takeout that was charged to us. I think I know who it was, but it seems pointless to ask about it now.

I am sure the restaurant did not make a mistake, as we worked closely with them when planning the dinner and had a dedicated server for the evening. I didn’t monitor what our guests ordered, and we left first, so I didn’t see any takeout bags people might have had.

I still can’t believe someone would do this; no one at the dinner was hurting for money or food. I’m perplexed.

GENTLE READER: That someone would take advantage of a free meal? You should read more of Miss Manners’ letters.

If you host such a party again, you may well tell the server that it is all right to turn down any takeout orders, saying, “I am afraid that our takeout and delivery service is closed for this private party. Our regular business hours recommence tomorrow.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in what one would describe as an upper-middle-class neighborhood. My husband and I spent a great deal of money to make our backyard resemble a resort (including a six-foot privacy fence) since we could not go on vacation the last few years due to COVID.

It was very quiet and peaceful until new neighbors moved in next door. They have five children! As most children do, they enjoy playing outside, and they are constantly loud and screaming. I feel as though I cannot fully enjoy the luxury of my backyard due to the incessant shrieking.

I work very hard during the day as a manager of a surgery center and like to relax in my own sanctuary when I return home. Do I have to suffer in silence so that they can be happy? What is the proper way to handle the situation?

GENTLE READER: Are you suggesting that the children be taught not to use their outside voices … outside?

Normally, Miss Manners would propose that you invite the family over and then casually mention the issue (“Don’t you find that in this neighborhood it’s hard to contain the noise level?”).

But with five of them, the parents may well start using your oasis to escape the children themselves. Miss Manners therefore suggests that you invest in noise-canceling headphones to go along with your privacy fence. Eventually the children will grow up and move out.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.