Harold Almon Etiquette Coach
Mitigate the obligation: only accept invitations for the type of event or entertainment you are willing to give and from people you would like to invite to it (or work or pay a lot.)
The rule or reciprocity is excepted when you accept an invitation to an event where you have or had to pay to attend. Such events are a fundraiser, wedding shower, wedding, dance, or a ball. It can be omitted when you have to work to attend an event, when you cannot reciprocate and that fact was known when the invitation was extended, (and when you are male and single, or you are young.) You are to enjoy and to avoid pushing the latter rules. In social life, the rule of reciprocity could be omitted when the event was an expense account (work) lunch. However, a dinner is to be reciprocated-in kind, and normally in mixed pairs, or the excuse you offer had best be a good one.
Once someone acknowledges the requirement, at the activity, a senior guest can say, “Can I” or “Let me,” and waive it, unless (you) the host insists.
Knowing Business Social Dining Etiquette Lessons Polished Table Manners for College and University Students: what is being signaled and what to signal back, and being aware of how you look when you eat is practical, civil, and the right thing to do.