Wednesday, May 21, 2014

RSVP: The Art and The Agony

Planning a party is easy!  You don’t have to have a theme or a reason.  All you need are a few things: a time and place, maybe some snacks and drinks, and some people to party with. 

Turns out the first few things – the prep, planning, purchasing, and timing – the work of it all, the part that takes the most thought, time, and money – this is the easiest part.

Finding out who will be there so you know what to prepare?  That’s hard.  Party day can be the stuff of nightmares, like forgetting you were enrolled in a class, only to find out on final exam day.  Or showing up to work without pants.  You’re unprepared.

Who’s coming?  How many are coming?  I’ve invited fifty people!  How many have RSVP’d to let me know they’re coming?

One, two, three, four, five.  Five have said they are coming.  Five out of fifty.  Oops, four.  I’m coming.  To my own party.  Do I count?    

Wake up WAKE UP!  This is a nightmare.  They didn’t get the invitation.  They don’t know it’s coming up.  I will need to make phone calls and send emails and texts.  It will take days to contact everyone.

Nope.  Not a nightmare.  It’s real.  It’s happened.  I’ve planned parties before, and like showing up sans pants, I was left hanging.

What has happened to the art of the RSVP?

Répondez s'il vous plait, which is French for please respond, is often overlooked on present day invitations.  Once described as “inexcusably rude” not to respond to an invitation to a gathering, most modern people don’t care to offer an intention to attend or not to attend.  Some people may try to tell you that they don’t know what RSVP means, but to that I say mmmmkay.  Don’t believe you.

I was taught that to not indicate your intention to attend a gathering that you were distinctly invited to is rude.  Okay, maybe not inexcusably so, but rude nonetheless.  Is it that a negative response is so difficult to offer?  “I can’t come” is an adequate response to a party invite.  No explanation is needed.  I’ve made my share of “no, thank you” responses in the past without much more than an explanation of “we have previous plans.”

In a society where people can’t get enough of watching each other humiliate themselves on television, make callous and careless statements to each other over social media, and regularly flip each other the bird in traffic, I can’t believe that people don’t respond to party invitations just because they feel bad that they can’t come.

In fact, it's cool to respond “no” if you can’t come.  I don’t feel bad over a negative response to an invitation.  I regret that I won’t see your gorgeous smile at my party, but it’s better than preparing for your presence, only to find that you don’t show up.

And how embarrassing is it if you don’t respond and I don’t have food or space for you when you decide to come after all?  What if I decide to cancel the party because nobody said they were coming and you come knocking?  Well, that would be awkward is what.  Oh, hi; come in.  I think I have some crackers and a couple slices of American cheese to give you.  Is water okay?


People: PLEASE.  Respond to the invitation.  Someone has gone to the trouble to invite you, to request your presence.  They want you to be there.  They are asking you to be there.  If you can’t be there, tell them so.  Do it right away.  Give your host time to prepare.  Don’t be the person who just doesn’t show.  Don’t be the person who shows and isn’t expected.  Just RSVP.  Let a sister know if you’re coming or not.  It’s so easy.  With all the impersonal means of communication available to us these days, you won’t even have to deal with watching the disappointment cloud your friend’s face when you tell her you can’t come to her party.

You also won’t see the relief in her eyes, either, but that’s a life lesson for another time.


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27 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I am a big fan of responding to RSVPs, even to huge events where people are very likely not to notice (when they just need to know 'roughly 500-600 people are coming). Where are people's manners these days?

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    1. I think most people weren't taught. Or maybe they have never given a party and don't know that something like "number of guests" is important.

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  2. I admit I sometimes forget to RSVP "no" if it's a paper invitation, but I don't get it when people don't RSVP to an evite. There's even a "maybe" option if you're not sure!

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    1. I seriously don't get it either. Evites are so easy to respond to! I've heard "I don't look at my email" so many times. What? Then why do you have it?

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  3. AMEN! I couldn't agree more. It makes me crazy. Especially when I sometimes use Evite. How hard is it to point the mouse and click? And I hate when I run into someone who I've invited and I have to ask, "Are you coming?" And they respond along the lines of, "Of course, you know I'm coming." Ah, no, I don't - because you didn't RSVP!!!!!

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    1. Yes to all of that. A hundred times, yes.

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  4. I am so with you on this. And to throw in a little of my Steel Magnolias wisdom (because it's always appropriate to do so) you understand the fine art of the polite RSVP because clearly, "you were raised right." I was also taught that it is simply rude not to reply, no matter what your response is. Honestly, do people not have manners and an understanding of basic social etiquette anymore?

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    1. Thank you! It boggles my mind how many people just don't know simple courtesy. It's not fancy to expect an RSVP - it's just practicality! I feel bad for brides these days - how do they know how many people to expect?

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  5. It makes me INSANE when I'm planning a party. How rude! The worst is when they don't RSVP and then show up. Or just never say anything..ever. (they're never invited back and shame on them because we throw great parties)

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    1. That is the worst. More often we have the problem of people just not responding, but they don't come, either. Showing up without letting me know you're coming? SO rude! And of course you would be considered rude by that person if you didn't have a place for them. You are right for never inviting them back.

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  6. Ha ha ha, that last line! I am dealing with this RIGHT NOW since I'm waiting on responses (or lack there of) for my son's party this weekend. I'm sure peeps will show up that have not RSVPed. Don't you just love that little surprise? NOT!!! Emily Post is rolling over in her grave... ;p

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    1. The worst is when people don't RSVP to your kid's party. It breaks my heart to tell my kids that we've invited 15 people, but only 5 can come. Or at least 5 who bothered to say they were coming!

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  7. Getting RSVP's for my son's birthday party was a nightmare! And since it was at a facility, I had to pay based on the number of people attending. So when I had heard from less than 1/4 of his class, then I had to figure out how many to tell the party facility. Some people did show up who did not RSVP. I ended up paying more than I needed to because of the inaccurate head count, and I had left over goody bags, cupcakes, etc. Given that it's easy to call, email, or text an RSVP, I find it rude and inconsiderate when someone can't be bothered to respond.

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    1. People don't understand this. It's the same at a wedding - when we had ours, I wanted to tell every person who didn't RSVP that we still had to buy their dinner for them, only to let it go to waste! I'm sorry that happened to you. It's almost not even worth it these days to try and plan a great party. The more stories I hear about this, the angrier I get!

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  8. I might still be bitter about one of our birthday parties that I made a lot of food for, only to have a huge section of the family not show up. Or RSVP. I don't invite them anymore, that way I'm sure they're not coming. Harsh? Maybe.

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    1. Not harsh. Practical. Those people can't be counted on. I hate it when people say things like "You know I just show up" or "I didn't learn RSVP when I was a kid." You know what? LEARN IT.

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  9. THIS is why I don't have parties.
    Or friends.

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    1. Julie. I was just responding below you and I had to come up and giggle at your comment.

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    2. I figure a couple more posts like this one and I won't have any friends, either. Oh, the things we sacrifice for the social good.

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  10. Replies
    1. Yes, thank you. I knew I could count on you to agree with me on this.

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  11. Searching brain, trying to remember... I think I actually had that happen once for a Halloween party. We were going to do a hayride for the Girl Scouts. No one responded. I cancelled. That evening one of the moms calls, "What time are we supposed to be there?" You're not. Not anymore.

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    1. It would have been hard for me to keep from giving a little lesson in basic manners right then and there. Ugh.

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  12. I agree 100%. I admit that I have forgotten a couple of times, but usually the mom will circle around and ask, and I hang my head in shame. But overall, I respond, and if I say yes, then I will show up unless someone is very ill.

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