Saturday, January 26, 2008

Today's RSVP Etiquette

Okay, I'm in desperate need of some input. I want to know if I'm being overly critical of something and hope for some feedback from other people.

Miss M just turned five and we were having a birthday party for her. For the girls' birthdays, we opt for a small gathering at home or a pizza place and invite immediate family plus a few friends. A few weeks before Miss M's birthday, we sent out invitations to everyone, including a note to RSVP.

The RSVP results:
Family let me know during regular conversations that they would be there. Check. The father of one of the kids is a friend of ours and knew about the party before I even sent out invitations. So his RSVP came before he even got the invitation. Check. No reply from the two preschool classmates. We had previously had a play date with one, so I called them after a week of no reply. They immediately apologized and said that the husband and child would be there. I didn't get a "Let me get back to you" response, so I genuinely think they were busy and forgot. I can accept that. Check. Then there's the last one. The family had opted not to have their phone number or email in the class directory so I could not call them. I asked the teachers to forward an additional note to the parents with my phone number in case the invitation was MIA. Still no response. The party came and went. No show. Ummm… yeah. Should have seen that one coming.

I realize that I invited someone that I didn't know, but our kids go to school together. Miss M was only allowed to select two classmates and she was dead-set on these two. The invitation didn't say "drop your kid off with us strangers and leave" and they didn't call to ask if they could stick around for the party. They were more than welcome to… I like being friends with the parents of the children my daughters play with. We tried to prep Miss M by telling her that (classmate) probably would not be attending because his mom had not called me.

When I talked to Miss M after the party to recap how much fun she had, she talked about who was there then said "I gave (classmate) a letter at school and asked him to come to my party. He didn't come. That makes me so sad." I consoled her and reminded her of the fun we had anyhow.

Am I being ridiculous in thinking this is unacceptable and rude? Is it normal for people these days not to RSVP? Maybe I should include a note in the future that says "If you don't RSVP by mm/dd/yy, then it's assumed you do not plan to attend." I'm annoyed but keep telling myself that some people are just inconsiderate.

What's your experience with RSVPs?


  • Anonymous

    I was just listening to Oprah the other day (at work on the radio) and they were talking about that exact subject ie. RSVP'ing, although they were referring to weddings, they were talking about the correct idea that yes you should indeed reply back and let the person know yes or no if you were attending with/out a guest. They also mentioned it's gotten worse and people are not RSVP'ing assuming you will 'just know' they are attending. Which does make it difficult to plan for food, etc. I think it's great you talked to your daughter about her party and asked her how she felt about it. I think you did all you could with asking the teacher to send an extra note but I do agree it was rude they didn't let you know either way, especially after 2 notes to them asking if they were attending. People are getting 'forgetful' and not thinking you will mind if just one/two more attend as it's no big deal but it is. Maybe adding a date on there would be good because that way you set a date and you won't be wondering up until the time of the party starting if someone is going to show up without you knowing they were coming.

  • Apryl Kuhn

    I usually just put "RSVP by (whatever date)" and if they don't get back to me by then, I assume they're not coming. Some people think RSVP means "call me if you're coming," not "let me know if you're coming OR not."

  • Unknown

    I used to party plan, and you woudl be surprised at how many people do not RSVP. And yes, it is rude, and I feel that you can be annoyed. But better you had the feeling they were not coming and then have them truly not come. Being surprised at the last moment by a guest can be just as bad, imo.

  • Heather

    That has been our experience as well. It seems that only the people planning on attending RSVP. I think the intent has been lost, where people think they only need to call if the do plan to attend, and not if they don't plan attend. But children think that anyone that gets an invitation will come, and it makes them sad when they are expecting a friend that doesn't show up.

  • Michele

    Since Zoe moved up to the older class at daycare, we get invites all the time for kids Zoe goes to school with but we don't know their parents. I would never dream of not letting them know that we would or wouldn't attend even if I don't know them. It's rude in general for the parents but I think it also reflects badly for the child. The poor kid has no control over this and his/her parents are being rude.

  • Anonymous

    I thought this was just a southern thing! Now I know people all over need a refresher course on manners. For my son's 7th birthday party invites went out and only half rsvp'd. On the big day, 2 kids whose parents did not RSVP showed up.

    I wonder if people are just plain lazy or if in this day of emails, text messages and Instant messaging if people just don't like to talk to other people anymore?. Especially when declining an invitation?.

  • Anonymous

    It is happening everywhere...even in moms groups..where moms join under the fact "they don't want to be stuck at home and need to get out" and then never rsvp or show up for anything.

    I think it's just people are losing the capacity to interact with other people. They can call on the cell phone or text or im, but when it comes to actual socialization...well...crickets have it better off...LOL

    Sorry to hear what had's annoying and what's sad is when those non-rsvp'ers get annoyed or insulted if reminded...apparently it's okay to have bad behaviour so long as it doesnt' intrude on the person committing the offense, lifestyle.

  • Patty

    My parents just had a party and every single couple they invited RSVP'ed, which surprised the hell out of me. People seem to get ruder by the minute. And, as much as I think everybody should always RSVP, it's seems even crappier not to when it involves a party for a little girl.

    Speaking of rude people, I still owe you a long overdue email. Please forgive me for not answering you yet.

  • C

    More people don't RSVP than do. Personally, I'm thinking it's because so many kids have birthday parties now, plus all of the extra-curricular stuff that goes on.

    I always call people a few days before that I haven't heard from. If you don't have a number, then oh well. We've had no responses and no-shows like that, especially when it's a family we haven't gotten to know yet.

    Now that my kids are older, they will do a bigger activity and can only afford to invite one or two friends. We make it really clear up front with their parents that we only have "this many" friends we can take, and if they can't come to let us know. Then we can invite someone else.

    Don't fret over it. It'll happen again ... at some point ... at some age ... trust me. :)

  • Unknown

    The lack of RSVP etiquette has presented me with so many headaches -- I'm the de facto party planner for our large extended family, and found it impossible to plan quantities, set-up, etc. It seemed the most egregious in their lack of response were those with the biggest family -- whether they showed or not presented a major monkey wrench -- "should I prepare enough for eight additional people, or assume they're not coming...?"

    We are lucky in that we have a family website, so it makes it easy to communicate with everyone. I finally partially solved the RSVP issue by 1) letting everyone know that from that point on, unless they responded, they would not be on the invitation list in the future; and 2) hosting another party and not sending invites to those families who hadn't previously responded. Harsh? Yes, perhaps, but I think it is even harsher to leave a host in the lurch -- 8 steaks, plus or minus, is a lot of contingency planning.

    Next, I started posting the invitation with all the details on the family website, but left out the location and time -- this forced people to call to get that information, and unless I heard from them, I knew they wouldn't be coming. Draconian? You betcha! But at least I didn't completely stop hosting parties, which is how I felt with the way we were treated by the non-RSVP'ers.

  • Nicole Brady

    Thanks everyone for your responses. It's nice to know I'm not in the sinking boat alone.

    Louise - Thanks for the laugh! Harsh, yes. Effective? Sure seems so! I may be taking that approach in the future.

  • Shannon

    I know I'm coming to this post late, but I was looking up RSVP etiquette to see what other people's experiences have been with kid's parties.

    I've invited 12 of my son's preschool classmates for a party this Sunday. Only 4 parents RSVP'd. I plan to call the others to see if their kids are coming or not.

    I was starting to take it personally, but I guess it's the course of how parents handle etiquette nowadays.

  • Anonymous

    Late response but I came across your blog after posting a similar topic on my blog

    I am talking about wedding etiquette but I think it is all the same. ITs is very rude to ignore RSVPs and no matter what crisis may be going on (I'm sensitive -- there are extreme ones, such as illness, but I would bet most cases are not), if you can remember to brush your teeth and buy groceries you can leave a voicemail or mail a pre-stamped invite card. My humble opinion. I wouldn't expect more from others than I would expect from myself.