Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Invitation Etiquette: A Refresher

It's that time of the year again when there are many parties, dinners, and social events that require invitations  and responses so that a host or hostess can plan the event.   I want to remind people that invitations that are received need a response and that RSVP means: “Répondez, s’il vous plaît,” or, in English: “Please reply.”  I don't know when we started to be so lax about invitations and their RSVP request so that people ignore them, but it is definitely a major complaint for me.  Emily Post wrote a famous book in 1922 called Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (frequently referenced as Etiquette)  and there is a website for Emily Post for you moderns who only use email and texting.  Emily Post is even on Facebook. more excuses that you don't know what to do when you receive a formal or written invitation.

What does Emily Post say about receiving an Invitation and RSVP?  Please read what she says below:

Invitation Etiquette
Whether it is to a wedding, a dinner party, shower or gala event, an invitation comes with some important obligations. Here’s a quick guide to keep you on the guest list.


From the French, it means “Répondez, s’il vous plaît,” or, “Please reply.” This little code has been around for a long time and it’s definitely telling you that your hosts want to know if you are attending. Reply promptly, within a day or two of receiving an invitation.

2. How do I respond? Reply in the manner indicated on the invitation.

•RSVP and no response card: a handwritten response to the host at the return address on the envelope.

•Response Card: fill in and reply by the date indicated and return in the enclosed envelope.

•RSVP with phone number: telephone and make sure to speak in person – answering machines can be unreliable.

•RSVP with email: you may accept or decline electronically.

•Regrets only: reply only if you cannot attend. If your host doesn’t hear from you, he is expecting you!

•No reply requested? Unusual, but it is always polite to let someone know your intentions. A phone call would be sufficient.

3. Is that your final answer?

•Changing a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ is only acceptable on account of: illness or injury, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict. Call your hosts immediately.

•Canceling because you have a “better” offer is a sure fire way to get dropped from ALL the guest lists.

•Being a “no show” is unacceptable.

•Changing a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ is OK only if it will not upset the hosts’ arrangements.

4. “May I bring…”

Don’t even ask! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts want to invite—and no one else.

•…a date. Some invitations indicate that you may invite a guest or date (Mr. John Evans and Guest) and when you reply, you should indicate whether you are bringing someone, and convey their name.

•…my children. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.

•… my houseguest. It’s best to decline the invitation, stating the reason. This gives your host the option to extend the invitation to your guests, or not.

5. Say “Thank You.”

Make sure to thank your hosts before you leave, and then again by phone or note the next day.

I mailed out invitations to six couples for Thanksgiving Dinner the last week of October.  Hmmm, what to buy, food for 6, food for 12,  food for 14?  I'll wait for the RSVP replies. My two daughters told me they'd be here, one with her boyfriend. 

I happened to see one of the invited by chance two weeks ago and asked if he and his partner would be there?  "Yes" was the answer.  He called me Monday night to say "No - going to work Thanksgiving Day."

Six of the invited live out-of-state, so I invited them to stay over as our house guests.  I thought perhaps they could not come, but I really want to see them.  Did I get an answer from any of them? Invitation to my sister and her husband - never answered.  Invite to 4 other friends, not even an email!

OK, I'm not a mind reader, so we bought a 15 pound turkey and purchased food and drink for 12 potential guests.  Now it looks like my husband and I are hosting 3 guests.  Oh, today I heard from my daughter - can she bring her girlfriend who just got dumped by her boyfriend and has no where to go?  Of course!  Plenty of food!

May your Thanksgiving Day be full of joy and guests who properly RSVP'ed.


Oh, and Happy Left Overs to you!

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