Perfect Day

Perfect Day Wedding

Party Etiquette – How to Properly Respond to an RSVP

Party Etiquette – How to Properly Respond to an RSVP

Parties involve much planning and preparation. From selecting the party invitations to deciding what food and drink to serve, the party planner puts much thought into planning the perfect event. In order for both guests and host to enjoy the event, here are some party etiquette points to consider along with tips on how to properly respond to an RSVP.

Guest List. The guest list is an all important part of planning any successful party. Begin by listing everyone you would like to invite and then be prepared to scale the list down to a manageable size. Your venue and budget will determine head count. Of course you don’t want to exclude anyone, but often you may have to, so pick your deletions carefully. Keep the group congenial and consider the mix of personalities. Be careful not to exclude one person from an acknowledged group and do your best to clearly define the list so that no one who hears about it later will feel they were intentionally overlooked.

Party Invitations. Your party invitations will set the tone for your event. From a formal seated dinner to a backyard BBQ, the party invitations will let guests know what to expect. Be sure and include all of the details, including the correct date, time and location. Don’t assume anything. Indicate the day of the week as well as the date and month to be doubly sure. Include the time and indicate am or pm if there is any chance at all of confusion. Give clear directions on location. Even if it is at “our house”, include the street address and a map if someone may not have been there before.

You will more likely than not want to know in advance how many to expect. Indicate on the invitation if an RSVP is called for and how to contact you. Include your phone number or email address for responses. And if the invitee was allowed to bring a guest, let them know to alert you if they are coming with someone or alone so that you can get an accurate head count.

Clearly address the invitation to those you wish to attend. If children are invited, include their names as well. If not, add a short message that makes it clear that this party is for adults only. If guests can bring someone with them, make that clear as well. You will need all of this in mind as you plan your head count and make arrangements for the food and drinks. You may also want to say something about what to wear, “black tie” or “casual”, for example, and even mention if gifts are optional if you think that may become a concern. Have a friend proof your invitation just to make sure you have included everything you should. As the saying goes, it is better to include too much information than not enough!

RSVP. The term, RSVP, is a French phrase that stands for repondez s’il vous plait and translates to “please respond” in English. Sadly, this practice of letting someone know of their plans in advance is quickly dying in today’s culture. Party planning depends to a large part on head count. Hosts will need this in order to determine how much food and drink to provide. Party etiquette requires that you let the host know if you will or will not be attending if the invitation says, “RSVP”, or asks for a response. This is just common courtesy. Consider how you would feel if you had no idea who or how many were coming to an event you were hosting.

An invitation may include the line “regrets only”. This means that you are only obligated to let the host know if you will not be attending. But, please make sure that you do let them know and even if plans change, do not show up unexpectedly if you said you could not attend. RSVP means that you should let the host know if you are or are not attending, as either way, they need to know so that they can plan accordingly. And don’t delay in responding. Let them know just as soon as possible.

The invitation may indicate how to respond. An email may be requested or a phone call. It is best to not assume the message was delivered if you are in any way unsure. If you send an email, follow-up to make sure it was received. If you leave a phone message, check as well just to make sure there is no doubt. Warmly thank the hostess for the invitation when letting them know if you will or will not be attending. If you have a conflict, there is no need to explain in detail, but do offer your appreciation even if you cannot be there.

Although it should not be necessary, it is perfectly acceptable to contact those you have not heard from to confirm their attendance if the party is approaching and you need a final head count. There is no need to be confrontational but a simple call or email may serve as a reminder for those you’ve not yet heard from.

Gifts. Many parties call for gifts but often it is unclear what proper party etiquette dictates. If you receive birthday party invitations, normally a gift would be called for unless stated otherwise. Although not required, it is also considered proper etiquette to send a gift even if you cannot attend the actual party. Graduation invitations and baby shower invitations normally require gifts as well and, again, even if you cannot attend the actual event. Anniversary invitations often do not require gifts and depend on the formality of the event or your willingness to give. In any event, a gift should be thoughtful and only something you can afford to give. Make sure and include a card inside the box or firmly attached to the outside as often the honoree will not take the time to open them during the party and you would not want to leave them guessing as to who give them the gift.

It is considered in poor taste to request gifts on party invitations. One exception might be a baby shower invitation when it is helpful to include mention of where the new mom might be registered. A small hostess gift, flowers or bottle of wine is nice to bring to a dinner party as a thank you gift. And follow-up with nice thank you cards to the host in appreciation. Thank you cards are a must if you are the gift receiver!

Party Behavior. A party is a time for joyous celebration. Hopefully you have selected your guests wisely and everyone will enjoy the event. If there is any doubt that someone may disrupt it, think twice before inviting them. And, if you are the guest, make sure you are not too joyous!

As a guest you are expected to be on time and dressed appropriately. The formality of the event should dictate your actions. Conduct yourself properly and remember that the party honoree is the star of the event, not you! If alcohol is served, it is your responsibility to consume only what is appropriate. As the host, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on abusers and make sure they do not drive if you have any indication at all that they might be in danger or harmful to others or themselves.

As the host, after all the planning has been done, enjoy the party yourself and the memories after. Your guests are sure to appreciate your efforts and reciprocate in kind. As a guest, thank the host for including you, congratulate the party honoree, and enjoy the festivities. Be a welcomed guest, reflecting behavior suited to the occasion, and hopefully you will be invited back in the future.