Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my column to work on other projects. I hope you enjoy these "Best Of" columns. Today's topic is: Birthday bashes. I'll be back with fresh columns in two weeks.

Dear Amy: We just celebrated my daughter's first birthday with a wonderful party at a catering hall. We had live entertainment, food, an open bar for the adults, flowers, balloons, favors — you name it!

I spent months planning for this party to make it a perfect event. This is my third child, and every party has been a big event like this one.

My problem is rude guests. I had more than half of the party (20 families) respond several days past the RSVP date. They showed up one to two hours late with no apology, and some left early.

These guests took it upon themselves to sit wherever they wanted, even when I had place cards with assigned seating. As much as I love to throw parties for my children, in the end, I feel disappointed, insulted and used.

Should I stop having these parties, or should I continue doing what my children and I enjoy and ignore the rudeness?

Amy says: It's somewhat refreshing to learn that even in this tough economy there are still people who throw cotillions for 1-year-olds.

You need a reality check. You also need a reality show. If you had your own show, your guests' rudeness — and your reaction — would be highlighted for the amusement of the rest of us.

Every time you host one of these extravaganzas you emerge with the same frustrations, so you should do an objective postmortem to figure out what you could do differently in order to have a different result.

I suggest that you adjust your expectations somewhat regarding timely RSVPs, consider doing away with your seating chart, and adjust the length of your event. Your only other option is to get different guests. (February 2011)

• • •

Dear Amy: It all started last year when a male co-worker had a birthday.

I decided to give him a gift. I wrapped it and surprised him with it. I was on my break, talking to my husband, when my friend walked in and waved a "thank you," but later he asked me, "What's the catch? Is it a regift? I want to see the receipt."

I told him he was hurting my feelings and demanded the "gift" back. He refused to give it back and nonchalantly apologized for what he had said.

I went into his lunchbox without his knowledge and took the gift back.

The next day I got him a chocolate cake to make up for what I had done. I went to give it to him and he rudely told me to leave.

You bet I took the cake! I ate it, too! It's been a year since this happened, and we haven't spoken since. What do you think?

Amy says: People sometimes compare the workplace to high school. In your case, it's more like kindergarten. You are not a grown-up. You are a thief. Consider yourself lucky your co-worker didn't notify management (or security) when you went into his lunchbox.

You can assume he was embarrassed by your generosity when he made wisecracks about the gift you gave him. His behavior was rude. Your behavior afterward defies explanation. (May 2011)

Send Ask Amy questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.