Wednesday, December 05, 2007

RSVP....find out what it means to me

**warning: pet peeve rant alert**

OK, I'm throwing Kira a birthday party this Saturday. She brought invitations to school last week; she's inviting ten girls. (yes, 11 second-grade girls in my house, I know I'm insane...moving on)

On the invitation, I requested an RSVP and gave our home number AND my email address (because I know that *I* would rather respond by email). So far, and it is now three days before the party, I have heard from TWO people. (one acceptance and one regret) That means it is up in the air about EIGHT of the guests.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but for me there's a BIG FREAKIN' DIFFERENCE between preparing for a party where there are nine guests versus one guest. And as of right now, which is the day I was planning to do the final shopping for supplies, I have no clue AT ALL which party to prepare for.

The purpose of an invitation is to let people know there's a party, and when, and where. For people who care to know how many guests to prepare for, it is common to put "RSVP" on the invitation.

RSVP (or in the full French, Répondez s'il-vous-plaît) means RESPOND PLEASE. NOT: "respond if you feel like it" or "only call if you need directions or need to report an allergy" or "hey, I just put this here for the hell of it." It means "I need a head count on this party so I know how much food and drink to prepare, how many crafts and games to prepare for, and whether I need to bring an extra table and chairs into my dining room."

Often, an invitation will have either "RSVP" or "Regrets Only." "Regrets Only" is obvious...that's for a hostess who is going to prepare for everyone on the guest list to be there, in case everyone shows up. Ignoring this request and then not showing up will mean that the hostess and her family will be swamped in extra food, and will be making puppets every Saturday until next year.

Ignoring the RSVP and leaving the hostess with no idea whether you're coming or not will lead to an insane hostess who will wait until three days before the party and then CALL YOU to find out why you've been so unbelievably rude as to not let her know how much work, effort and money she needs to invest in this party.

Issuing an invitation and then having to turn around and call every member of the guest list is just flat-out annoying. Why did I have to spend an hour designing and printing invitations in the first place, if I'm going to have to call each person anyway?

Of all the etiquette rules out there, lack of attention to an RSVP request and the dearth of written thank-you notes are my big top two irritants. Both indicate a MAJOR MAJOR disrespect of the other party.

The proper way to handle an invitation is this:
1) read the invitation
2) decide RIGHT THEN if you are able to attend or not
3) immediately contact the hostess and let her know the result of 2)

#2 is essential. DO NOT WAIT. Do not decide to decide later. Either you are available or you are not. The point of sending an invitation out before the date of the event is to reserve your time. This is not a matter of "if you've got nothing better to do the day of the event, show up! Surprise me!" CHOOSE NOW.

The hostess is not a mind reader. If she puts RSVP on the invitation, she wants you to TELL HER whether to count on your presence or not. If you do not respond, she is forced to either a) assume you are coming; b) assume you are not coming; c) hunt you down and ask you. c) is redundant, because she has ALREADY asked you (see: you received an invitation).

Putting off the RSVP risks that you will forget you need to respond. Putting off the RSVP on the assumption that one person more or less won't matter does not take into account what will happen if EVERY GUEST makes this same assumption. Which will then put the hostess in the exact position that I am now in, namely that I have no idea if I am throwing a party for one guest or nine.

I've even taken into account if people are shy about calling someone. (Lord knows I am.) This is why I love when someone puts an email address after an RSVP. This allows me to whip out a little email, without having to brave the telephone and risk actually talking to a person.

So. Now that I've ranted on and on... It hasn't solved my problem. I still don't know who's coming. And since I hate the telephone, and talking to (real!) people, I am now going to have to assume everyone is coming, and get tons of stuff. Just in case. grrrrrrrrr. mk

1 comment:

Amy said...

I really hate that, too! And the lack of a thank-you card just pisses me off. It makes me ask, "Why should she come to your stupid little party next year, if you're just in it for the free stuff?" Grrrr.

We did get a "regrets only" invitation last year, and I thought it was a much better method. That way, those who can't come are more likely to call. Funny thing is -- she got no calls! Everyone showed up. Weird.

I'm sure it'll get worse before it gets better...