Dear Miss Manners: A guy I just started dating took me out to dinner for my birthday on our fourth date. He raised his glass and made a toast in my honor.

I chimed in during the toast to say something nice about him as well. He said that I should not have interrupted the toast. I suggested that correcting etiquette is also not proper form. Can you help us?

Gentle Reader: There were three breaches of etiquette by Miss Manners' count. You interrupted your date while he was speaking. He admonished you. And you admonished him.

Assuming that the evening did not end with a fourth, unreported breach — for example, his drink on your dress — and that a fifth date is therefore a possibility, Miss Manners prescribes apologies all around.

Kids run the show

Dear Miss Manners: I received an invitation for my niece's baby shower, where the hosts listed are her 7- and 2-year-old daughters. This means they will be the ones to run any shower games and to open each gift for their mother.

Her 7-year-old did that at her bridal shower (at age 4). It was very annoying and time-consuming. Is this the trend now for parties, allowing the kids to be the hostesses?

Gentle Reader: The practice of using a party as a stage for one's children to bore the guests is not new.

And there is certainly a trend toward misunderstanding the duties of a host, which include inviting and entertaining the guests, not focusing on being the recipient of gifts. Etiquette also prohibits her from throwing a shower for herself, or even agreeing to one when it is not her first child.

OK with no invite

Dear Miss Manners: One of the people in our office (a second career for me, where everyone is 20 years younger) is getting married next fall. I have picked up some indications that this individual may feel obligated to invite everyone from the office.

While I would be honored and delighted to be invited, I would not want to displace another guest.

I thought of taking the individual aside and explaining all of this, but I don't think that would be "correct," especially because it is possible I've misread the situation entirely. Is it better to politely decline the invitation with some made-up excuse, or just cheerfully attend?

Gentle Reader: There is no correct way to decline an invitation that has not been issued, even if you feel that accepting would place undue hardship on your host. Should you be invited, Miss Manners suggests that you not explain your reason for declining, as the assertion that an invitation was not made wholeheartedly is not a flattering one. She also expects that you will not feel offended if the invitation does not materialize. If it does, you may treat it as sincere and accept if you wish.

"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to her website, www.missmanners.com.