So, after planning my older two sons’ birthday party, which you need a headcount for the location and especially for the total amount it is going to costs. This is when hostin g becomes the hell you never think of with parties. I am personally the “prepare for the worst case scenario” host, where if someone does not let me know I assume they are coming, but that does not help the budget of the party and with a shared birthday you are also wondering does this child have people coming or is no one showing up for the party for this child. I do not care if people do not show up, because I will jump or have friends come with their kids for everyone to have fun. Last year all of my middle son’s invited guest came, but no one for my oldest son, because it was a tournament weekend for basketball. It is one rule that I follow, that whenever I get an invitation to RSVP to the person, whether a yes or no, I do not care if there is R.S.V.P., Regrets Only or whatever, I’m calling you and letting you know. I think of it as paying it forward for my children’s parties, so this is one thing that erks my nerves.
I spend my money and time planning this party for their family and friends and there are always a few that do not plan on responding to the invitation, which I’m sitting there and wonder how many are coming exactly and how much will I end up forking out for the party. And let’s be honest if you have the party at a place, like Jump Up, Pump It Up, SkyZone, or whatever people are placing inside now and making a franchise out of it, it costs a decent amount.
I take the time to hand out or mail out the invitations 2-3 weeks in advance in an invitation that states the obvious. I spend my money planning the food, decorations, goodie bags and whatever else to make it unique and something the kids would enjoy. There can only be two outcomes:
Outcome #1: Not only taking time out to answer questions from the place and do not give them any information, because I do not have it. Why you may ask? No one has responded. So my estimate is a couple hundred and then only a couple of people show, which would then if I was able to plan accordingly would be able to have more money to spend on bills!
Outcome #2: You have no one respond and the considerate others who did respond so when I tell the place we have 6 confirmed and then my three kids and then the day of the party comes and 21 kids show up with no other response and I’m sitting there wondering where did I go wrong in wording of the invitations.
Both are equally as stressful in party planning. This concern is not just for kids’ parties, but every event possible. My cousin had invitations go out, with replycards, pre-stamped return envelopes and whatever else. She spent thousands of dollars and people showed up that replied, “no” and she had people reply yes and never bothered to show up. We have a large family and this was a 300 person event, so it was an expensive cost that she lost.
After sending an invitation with a RSVP and a deadline of the RSVP. The day after the deadline, sending out an email (of course, if you know their email)
Dear So and So,
We are going to miss you at event name on the date. I know how busy everyone is and I hope you day is pleasant!
I hope to see you soon.
Hosts and hostess thought well enough of the guest to extend an invitation to share in their hospitality but in failing to courteously respond to an invitation, the guest does not show a reciprocal “well thought of” attitude towards the host. I am happy to entertain and have people over, but I do not have sympathy for the people who cannot be bothered to pick up the phone to call or text or email me their acceptance or regrets.
We should view RSVP silence as a definite “no” and reinforce this through communication that takes control of the situation and confirms to the guest that we understand their intention to not come. Any thought that they could wait to last-minute or simply show up is nipped in the butt. And it clearly makes sense. When a guest RSVPs in the affirmative or negative, I respond back with either a happy acknowledgement that they will be attending or regrets that they will not be able to come. A new option is to pro-actively acknowledge that my silent guests have also made it known they will not be attending either.
This type of pro-active confirmation of guests’ non-verbally stated intentions to not attend an event is not new for anyone. Some people even take the time out to call their guests that has not responded to the party and call them to express their regrets on not being able to attend the function and when they get an RSVP an hour or so before the start of the function, they say to them, “I am really sorry, but when we did not hear from you, we made our plans accordingly and it’s much too late to change them. Perhaps we’ll enjoy your company next time.”
My husband would often invite over friends for holiday dinners, cook-outs of my youngest son’s birthday is on the 4th of July so we would just informally invite people, but tell them to make sure they let us know. We were on a military base and I always cooked a lot, so it was not a big deal if they were showing up, but when they did not show up, I was left with a 20lb ham or turkey all the classic sides for my family of five. The good thing was, my husband could have the duty officer swing by and pick up some for the other guys who were left in the barracks and nowhere to go for the holidays or he would take them in the next day. I came from a family that my mom cooked a lot and with just my husband and I, I would cook for at least 10 people, so everyone knew if you wanted to eat at someone’s house because you were tired of the mess hall food or fast food they could come to our house. After the kids came, I told my husband any guys that do not have the funds to go home or nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter tell them to come over and enjoy food and watch some television – whether it was a movie on, them all playing games or a sporting event. So, if someone was coming over with their kids and spouse, I planned on it, but when they didn’t show up, I was left with tons of food that I could have put to another meal for my own family instead of throwing it away after lunchover day.
Even a “maybe” is better than silence when responding, because maybe it is something that they need to do before the event like find a baby-sitter. If the person responded to the first card with a maybe, you know that once they figure out if they are or are not able to come to affirm or regret the invitation. You know when they call you with a “maybe”, that it is a response and they will respond again when they are able to give you a definite answer to coming to the event.
As for silent guests showing up unannounced I think too many people have fallen for the myth that etiquette exists to make everyone comfortable in every circumstance. There are definitely situations where the goal should be to make the rude person as uncomfortable as possible. If one has five guests that RSVPed they will attend and you set the table with six places (one for yourself) and an unexpected guest shows up, rearranging the table to add another chair and another chair and another place setting isn’t likely to happen to discreetly in my house and unless the guest is an obtuse clod, the effect won’t be lost on them. In this case, there were to be six of us for lunch so I made six creme brulees the day before. Had a seventh guest show up, someone would have gone without dessert and that probably would have been me. I made a great show of burning the sugar at the table with my little butane torch and believe me, “everyone” would have noticed there were only six, not seven brulees.