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.